Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Fauquier County Board of Supervisors,



June 9, 2005


Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning



Community Development


Magisterial District:


Cedar Run


Service District:





7809-78-6301-000, 7819-05-2089-000, 7809-95-1226-000, 7809-95-2820-000, 7809-88-9130-000, 7819-04-1889-000, 7809-95-4740-000, 7809-86-8607-000, 7900-40-8840-000, 7819-14-0300-000

& 7819-04-3611-000



A Resolution to Approve Warrenton-Fauquier Airport SPEX05-CR-020: A Category 21 Special Exception to Allow for Development as Proposed in the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Master Plan 


Topic Description:


The applicant wishes to obtain Special Exception approval under Category 21 to allow for Airport development as proposed in the approved Warrenton-Fauquier Municipal Airport Master Plan.  (The approved Airport Master Plan provides recommendations to develop necessary facilities in compliance with Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.)


Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property is located on the west side of Warrenton Road (Route 610).  It is zoned Industrial Park (I-1), Industrial General (1-2), and Rural Agricultural (RA).  A map of the Airport is shown below outlined in red.





Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:


The property is currently zoned I-1, I-2 and RA.  It is bound on the north by I-1 and Residential 1 (R-1); to the east by I-1, I-2 and RA; to the south by R-1 and RA; and to the west by RA and R-1.  The Airport also is within the Airport Safety and Impact Overlay District (APSID) as identified in the Ordinance.  Land within this area is subject to regular zoning regulations as well as additional regulations and restrictions related to the APSID.


Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:


Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Planning Commission Recommendation:


On April 26, 2005, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward this Special Exception with a recommendation of approval, subject to the following conditions:


  1. The Special Exception is granted for and runs with the land indicated in this application and is not transferable to other land.


  1. This Special Exception is granted only for the purpose(s), structure(s), and/or uses indicated on the Special Exception Plat approved with the application, as qualified by these development conditions.


  1. A Site Plan shall be required, pursuant to Article 12 of the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. No time limit shall be imposed on this Special Exception, provided that future development and expansion are consistent with the approved Airport Master Plan and Special Exception Plat.


  1. The development of the property shall be in general conformance with the Special Exception Plat entitled "Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, Special Exception Application" dated January, 2005, and received in the Planning Office on January 21, 2005, except as modified by these conditions.


  1. This Special Exception approval does not remove any Site Plan, Administrative Special Permit, Special Permit or Special Exception approval required for specific uses permitted in the I-1, I-2, R-1 or RA zoning districts, pursuant to Article 3 of the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. The Warrenton-Fauquier Airport shall be subject to the standards set forth in the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance Section 4-500 Airport Area District.


  1. Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Rules and Regulations manual shall be available at the Airport.


  1. The Warrenton-Fauquier Airport shall be maintained and operated for public use in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration and any other appropriate local, State, and Federal agency.


  1. Airport staff shall assist the Community Development Department to monitor or review facility designs (within 5 miles) of the Airport in order to be in compliance with FAA policies and design guidance (150/5200-33A) which seek to avoid creation of attractants to birds and wildlife that might pose risks to the safe operation of the Airport. Stormwater management facilities within these areas must be designed accordingly.


  1. Perimeter fencing (for security) shall be installed to encompass the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport site by 2008.


Airport Master Plan:


The Airport Master Plan provides a facility layout where the more intense uses, such as aircraft hangar, storage, maintenance, and terminal building facilities are located adjacent to industrial zoned properties.  The Airport’s southern and western property is primarily open space, designated as an obstacle free area to protect aircraft landing or departing.  These open areas directly adjoin the Agricultural Zoning District (RA) and are 700 – 800 feet wide.  This open space provides an appropriate transition from the Airport to agriculture use.  Some navigation aids may be required to be located in this portion of the Airport; however, these instruments are generally unobtrusive, such as antenna or lighting equipment.


The Airport’s northern and southern most properties are dedicated as open space and part of the runway protection zone, where no future structures are planned.  These portions of Airport property adjoin the RA and Residential 1 (R-1) zoning districts.  The RA and R-1 zoning districts, coupled with the County’s Airport Zoning Overlay, creates a compatible land use.  This zoning overlay was adopted in 1996/1997 to specifically ensure that development around the Airport would remain compatible with the Airport’s planned operation.


Traffic:  Route 610 provides direct access to the Airport from Route 28.  The ITE Trip Generation Manual estimates that Airports generate 21.5 trips a day per employee.  There are currently 14 employees at the Airport and the Master Plan anticipates that as many as 30 individuals could be employed at the Airport by 2012.  This employment level and Airport activities translates into roughly 3.5 automobile trips per day per based-aircraft.  Peak hour traffic is assumed to constitute 15% of the daily traffic generation.  In 2012 this is expected to result in 98 peak hour automobile trips and a total of 645 automobile trips per day.


Airport Design Standards:  The Federal Aviation Administration establishes the basic design standards (i.e., required horizontal and vertical geometry, safety setbacks, facility dimensions, runway protection zones (RPZ), height limitations, etc.).  The 5000 foot by 100 foot runway and the supporting facilities at the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport are designed to meet FAA C -II aircraft design standards.  These standards will accommodate the majority of the general aviation aircraft in the national fleet expected to use the Airport, including up to the Gulfstream and Falcon type turbo-jet models that may weigh as much as 70,000 pounds, have wingspans up to 79 feet, operate with approach speeds up to 141 knots, and carry as many as 10 or more passengers.


Lighting:  Lighting aids are a critical and necessary component for safe operations in low visibility and night time conditions.  According to the applicant, the Airport lighting systems are designed to be clearly visible to approaching aircraft.  However, the low profile elevation of the edge lights and aiming design of approach lights, coupled with the distances of these pieces of equipment to the adjacent property lines and the relative remote location of the Airport, have made the Airport lighting almost indiscernible to even the nearest neighbors.


Airport Layout Plan Development Concept:  Since acquisition in 1992, the County has acquired the property it needs to achieve required safety setbacks and provide the operational clearances to support the significant Airport infrastructure improvements (i.e., runway, fuel storage, lighting, drainage, etc.).


The majority of the remaining projects recommended by the Airport Master Plan will likely be constructed with a combination of public funds (i.e., State, Federal and local) and private investments (through leaseholds) as demand and economic development opportunities present themselves.  No specific timetable for these improvements can be precisely established.


However, based on the region’s demand forecast, the Master Plan identifies, at a minimum, a future need for the following facility additions and improvements over the next 10 to 20 years:


·                                     Acquisition of additional land (±30 acres for RPZ protection and development).

·                                     Expansion of the Fuel Storage(15,000 to 25,000 gallons).

·                                     Expansion of the aircraft parking apron areas (±60,000 s.y.).

·                                     Construction of additional aircraft storage hangars & associated offices (±100,000 s.f.).

·                                     Construction of aircraft T-hangars (8-10 Buildings w/±100 aircraft).

·                                     Construction of aircraft maintenance hangars and associated offices (±75,000 s.f.).

·                                                                 Construction of an administration/terminal building (±10,000s.f.).

·                                                                 Construction of necessary automobile parking area (±300 spaces).

·                                                                 Lighting and navigation improvements for the Airport’s instrument approach capability.


Airport Development Process:  The Airport will continually need to have its Master Plan updated to reflect the changing needs, requirements, and technological advances made in the aviation industry.  This is necessary to ensure that the County maintains a safe and reliable facility that meets State and Federal design and operational standards, as well as to ensure that future facility improvements are accomplished in an appropriate manner consistent with County goals.


Airport Operations and Traffic:  The FAA requires that the County, as the Airport’s sponsor, maintain and operate the Airport for public use in accordance with State and Federal standards.


In 2004, the Airport was home to approximately 125 aircraft.  The Airport Master Plan suggests that the number of based aircraft will increase by about 2% each year to an estimated 145 aircraft by 2012.  Likewise, the number of annual landings and take-offs is also expected to increase over the same period, with annual operations estimated between 35,000 to 40,000.  The Master Plan presents a fairly aggressive forecast for annual operations to increase to 86,000 (i.e., average of 237 operations a day) by 2012.  Peak operations (expected to max out at about 33 operations/hour) would typically occur during the summer months, in daylight hours when the weather is good.


Height Restrictions:  To assure safety for aircraft and people on the ground, the FAA regulations establish the height limitation standards for areas on and around the Airport based on distances from the runway centerline.  Only items that are fixed-by-function, such as navigational aids, are allowed to be located within the most critical areas, near the runway itself.  The Airport Overlay Zone, already adopted by the County, is based on compliance with these standards.


Runway Protection Zone (RPZ):  The RPZ is a specific area located in the approach to each runway end and geometrically defined by the FAA.  This critical approach area is required to remain free of any development that might affect the safety of aircraft in the air and people on the ground.


The FAA recommends and reimburses sponsors for the fee acquisition of RPZ properties in order for the Airport to maintain complete control of these areas and protect the traveling public.  The County is pursuing the acquisition of the ultimate RPZ limits for both runway approaches as part of the planned land acquisition program for the Airport.


Bird Strike Concerns:  Bird and wildlife strikes present a significant and major safety concern at all Airports. FAA policies and design guidance are very clear that facility designs on and near Airports (within 5 miles) must avoid creation of attractants to birds and wildlife that might pose risks to the safe operation of the Airport.  Stormwater management facilities within these areas must be designed accordingly. 


Noise and Land-Use Compatibility:  The FAA’s Integrated Noise Model was used to predict noise exposure levels around the Airport.  The model used the Airport’s forecasted aircraft operations, which predicts nearly double the current operations, to designate the noise exposure levels. FAA defines the exposure areas within the Day-Night Level (LDN) 65 db contour line as incompatible with residential land uses.  Based on the noise analysis prepared for the Environmental Assessment, LDN 65 db exposure areas will be almost entirely contained within the planned limits of property acquisition for the Airport.  A very limited portion of projected LDN 65db exposure will theoretically exist beyond the limits of the RPZ at the north end of the Airport property.  This area is identified within the County’s Airport Zoning Overlay.  The overlay provides the following: 1) residential development restricted to areas outside the 65 db noise exposure contour, 2) for areas between the 65 – 60 db exposure contour, residential development must provide appropriate acoustical treatments and disclosure to prospective buyers of the Airport’s impact on residential uses, and/or aviation easements, 3) all prospective residential buyers in areas within 1 mile of the 60 db noise contour must have full disclosure of Airport noise in the sales transaction. 


Security:  Security at public-use general aviation Airports is critical to Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration's security efforts for the National Airports System.  Controlling unauthorized access, vandalism, inadvertent intrusions (especially to the Air Operations Area (AOA)), and providing the ability to monitor who is coming to, on, and leaving Airport property are the basic security objectives.  Fencing around the Airport facility is the primary means through which Warrenton–Fauquier Airport will control access and provide a secure facility.  As the terminal area is developed, the final links in the security and fencing plan will be implemented.  The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department provides law enforcement services to the Airport.


Background Information:


The Warrenton–Fauquier Airport is an integral part of the State and National Air Transportation System.  The Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan recognizes the Airport “as an asset to the Service District as air passenger and cargo services grow in importance”.  The Airport is an important economic development tool that requires continual planning, improvement and development in order for its full benefit to be realized.  According to the most recent (2004) DOAV impact study, the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport supports nearly 200 jobs and contributes over $7.5 million in overall economic activity to the region, placing it 7th amongst the 60 general aviation Airports evaluated in the State.  The County has provided appropriate zoning measures, through the designation of agriculture, industrial, and low-density residential land uses, with an Airport Zoning Overlay, to ensure that the facility remains compatible with the surrounding area.


The Warrenton–Fauquier Airport, rated as the 14th most active general aviation Airport in Virginia (per the Virginia Air Transportation System Plan Update 2005 Forecast), has been owned by the County and operated as a public facility since 1992.  Hangar rental, aircraft maintenance, fueling, charter, instruction, sales and related aviation services are provided to the traveling public by the County through various operators and tenant leases on the Airport.  Although the Airport remains technically “open” twenty-four hours a day, these services are typically staffed from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.  The Airport occupies 320 acres of land on 11 parcels, which are zoned industrial (I-1 & I-2), agricultural (RA), and residential (R-1).


The applicant notes that the Airport’s operation at its present location is compatible with the surrounding area.  Adjacent industrial, agricultural and low-density residential zoning, in conjunction with the County’s Airport Zoning Overlay, have worked well in promoting and maintaining compatible land uses for the operation of the Airport in the Midland community.  The approval of this Special Exception application will allow the Airport to continue to develop as prescribed in the approved Warrenton–Fauquier Airport Master Plan and be maintained to State and Federal aviation standards.


Staff Analysis:


Staff and the appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are available upon request.


Comprehensive Plan:


The Airport is located in the Midland Service District.  In the Comprehensive Plan (Plan) Midland has been planned for a significant amount of industrial and warehouse use.  The area is currently more industrial than residential in terms of land use activity.  Since the County has acquired the Airport, its refurbishment has heightened the interest in industrial growth for Midland.  The vision for the area surrounding the Airport is to have the land around it zoned industrial or commercial, not residential.  Defined areas will be dedicated for commercial/industrial uses that preserve open space.  The Plan also indicates the following goals: achieve the development of clean industries near the Airport; provide buffers between industrial uses and other uses; and concentrate industrial uses in appropriate locations.


Future Airport expansion needs to consider State/Federal access funds for a future roadway serving the Airport and connecting ultimately to Route 17 and the planned Bealeton Connector.  However, as proposed, Airport development in the Master Plan is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  


Zoning Considerations:


The Zoning Office has the following comments:


  1. The proposed application is for a Special Exception for transportation Category 21.  If there are plans for special events, fairs, functions, hot air balloon show, etc, a Category 9 Special Exception for outdoor recreation would also need to be part of this application to cover these events.  It would be better to address these issues at this time rather than go through the process again in the future.


2.      Please note there is a required 200 foot setback for all structures used by aircrafts.  All new structures must be located at least 200 feet from any property zoned rural or residential and 75 feet from property zoned industrial.  All other structures must be located 75 feet from rural or residential property and 25 feet from property zoned commercial or industrial.


3.      Once the Special Exception is approved, a major site plan would be required for all new development exceeding a total disturbance area of 10,000 square feet.  The information included on all site plans shall be in accordance with the requirements set forth in Article 12 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance.  Please note that all approved site plans are valid for five (5) years.  The applicant may want to include all construction on the first site plan to eliminate any further site plans if the project will be completed within the 5 year time frame.  The approved conceptual Special Exception plan must be part of the site plan submittal.


4.      The standards in 5-2101 should be incorporated as conditions of the Special Exception approval.


Virginia Department of Transportation:

The Warrenton Residency staff reviewed the Special Exception dated January 11, 2005.  Based on the information provided, there does not appear to be any impact to the State roads.  Any change in the use of the Airport which results in an increase in traffic to the site will need to be evaluated by the Department to ensure the existing and/or proposed entrances can accommodate the additional traffic based on current standards.

County Engineer


The Engineering Department has reviewed the above referenced plan and has the following comments:


  1. If the disturbed area is greater than 10,000 square feet, stormwater management and BMP requirements must be met. (Fauquier County Stormwater Management Ordinance Section 1.3)


  1. Any stormwater management facility must be designed to meet criteria set forth in FAA Advisory Circular number 150/5200-33A regarding the proximity of wildlife to Airport operations. 


  1. This site contains soils characterized by the presence of high water tables, hydric soils, or may contain hydric inclusions which may indicate the presence of wetlands.  Verification of the existence of wetlands will need to be provided.


  1. All applicable State and Federal permits are to be filed with the first submission of the Final Construction Plans.  This includes the COE/DEQ wetlands permit if necessary.


  1. Verification from the Health Department that current water and sewer facilities are adequate for the increased number of employees as shown in Justification Statement and Design Standards.


Soil Scientist


After reviewing the above Stated Special Exception plan by Campbell & Pan’s Engineers, P.C., it does not contain soils information.  The following shall be provided to allow an assessment of the soils on site:


  1. Mapping unit symbols, drainageways, and spot symbols – Soil map shall include all soil mapping unit symbols, and any applicable spot symbols (drainageways, rock outcrops, springs, etc.)


  1. Symbols legend – The soils map shall have a symbols legend if spot symbols are used (drainageways, rock outcrops, springs, etc.) describing each symbol shown on soil map.


  1. Source is Stated – The source of the soils map shall be clearly Stated on same sheet as soil map.  Preliminary soils information via Fauquier County Soils Survey (originally mapped at 1 inch = 1320 feet).


  1. Interpretive information – Summary of soil characteristics and use potential shall be Stated from the most recent Interpretive Guide to the Soils of Fauquier County, Virginia, for all mapping unit symbols shown on soil map.  State source (i.e. “Interpretive Guide to the Soils of Fauquier County, Virginia, 5th Edition – 2004).


  1. Soil map and lot layout are on same sheet – The soil map shall be overlain with the lot layout and all infrastructure.


Department of Fire & Emergency Services


  1. This plan is for pavement and drainage improvements for the construction of two new T-hangers.


  1. Should a public water supply be unavailable, arrangements shall be made to provide water at this site in accordance with a nationally recognized standard such as NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting. 


  1. Hangers being shown at 32,940 square feet.  The building code typically requires Group S occupancies over 12,000 square feet to be provided with a fire sprinkler system.  This plan makes no mention of any fire suppression system being installed.


4.      Fire hydrant/dry hydrant and tank shall be required.  Provide a detailed ingress/egress plat in order to determine fire hydrant placement and fire lane requirements.


Summary and Recommendations:


The approved Airport Master Plan provides recommendations to develop necessary facilities in compliance with Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.  In order to comply with the approved Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan, Special Exception approval is required. 


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

  1. Fauquier County Department of Community Development
  2. Warrenton–Fauquier Airport




  1. Statement of Justification
  2. Special Exception Plat