Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Douglas E. & Sharon Y. Darling (Owners)

  Fauquier County Water and Sanitation

  Authority (Applicant)


June 21, 2004



Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning



Community Development


Magisterial District:







Service District:  Marshall



A Resolution Denying SPEX04-MA-020, A Category 20 Special Exception to Allow for the Construction of an Above Ground Water Storage Silo


Topic Description: 


The purpose of this Special Exception is to obtain approval for the construction of an above ground water storage silo.  Water service in Marshall is currently provided by the privately held Marshall Water Works.  The system has a long history of low water pressure and inadequate water flow.  There is not enough flow to provide fire protection anywhere in the Marshall Service District.  The Service District Plan discusses comprehensive upgrades to the water system to improve quality, pressure and fire flow.  The Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority (WSA) will ultimately own and operate the system.  Initially, the needed improvements will require coordinated investment from both public and private participants.


The Marshall Water Works is drilling two new wells (17/66 Industrial Park area) for the new water system to provide ample water supply.  However, adequate storage facilities are required as the peak periods of water use will likely surpass the expected level of production (i.e., water pumped during off-peak periods would be stored).  These storage facilities must be properly designed to balance pressure across the system.  For Marshall, this means two storage tanks; one at the well site (already approved at the 17/66 location) and another in the western part of the Service District.


The tank at the industrial park will be a typical large pedestal style municipal tower.  It will be the primary storage unit and its height will make it the main source of water pressure.  Once the wells and tank construction are completed, or sooner, the WSA intends to take control of the water distribution system.  WSA will continue system improvements, such as replacing distribution lines.  Then the next phase would be to add the second tank.  One alternative site is the proposed Cannon Ridge Water Storage Silo, which would assist in the completion of the entire community water distribution system.


The Applicant intends to place an above ground water storage tank, described as an “Aqua Store” silo structure that is approximately 80 feet in height at the proposed location in the Marshall District.  WSA already owns the proposed tank, so it can be used for this purpose at no additional cost to customers.  However, for engineering reasons, the silo must be located at a specified elevation; the 730 foot topographic contour.


The Applicant’s Representative, the consulting firm Carson Harris, indicated in the Statement of Justification for the Special Exception that within the Marshall Service District the proposed site at the western end of the Service District on the south side of West Main Street (Route 55) is the only location that meets that elevation requirement for this silo tank.  Carson Harris also noted that the nearest alternative location is northwest of the Marshall Middle School site off Zulla Road in the vicinity of Stony Hill Lane.  A third alternative, outside of the Service District, is over three miles away from the preferred site.  It is near the District’s western boundary and it would require significant cost to WSA for additional piping.  WSA noted that these options would require larger tower type facilities to meet both the storage and hydraulic pressure requirements needed to balance the pressure within the system.


The developer of Cannon Ridge has offered WSA the proposed site at no cost.  The developer has also offered to move the WSA-owned water silo and reconstruct it at the Cannon Ridge site.  The site is a 50 foot by 50 foot lot, however actual site grading will be limited to the structures 29-foot radius “footprint.”  The Applicant intends to minimize tree clearing.  The lot will be accessed for service and maintenance via a 25-foot ingress/egress easement with a 12-foot gravel travel way.  The easement will also contain the water main connecting the storage silo to the Cannon Ridge subdivision and adjacent properties.  Both the silo and the road are within the open space area to be controlled by the Cannon Ridge Homeowners Association.  The portion of the land that contains the tower will become fee simple ownership (for WSA) and then require classification from “common” to “dedicated” open space.


The Cannon Ridge Subdivision has an approved Special Exception (SPEX03-MA-016) for a reduction in open space for the subdivision.  That Special Exception would require an amendment to further reduce the open space requirements so that the water storage silo can be placed at the Applicant’s proposed (preferred) location.  According to Section 2-309 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance:


“…No part of the open space in any development shall be subsequently reduced below the minimum requirements of the Ordinance. [Note that the computation of open space areas is based upon 6 rules; one of which is listed below]


5.       In no instance shall open space credit be given for lands which are included in or reserved for the right-of-way of any street, or for any public facility except as qualified in the paragraphs above. With respect to public utilities, the “paragraphs above” do not consider it as part of open space, except as part of utility easements, and then only when the remaining portions of the easements are dedicated for recreation/open space use.” (2-309.4).


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


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


Financial Impact Analysis:




Planning Commission Recommendation:


After conducting a public hearing, the Planning Commission has recommended that the Board of Supervisors deny the amendment to Special Exception SPEX04-MA-020 and its request for the construction of an above ground water storage silo.


Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property, which is in the Marshall Service District, is located off Main Street in Marshall, Virginia; across from the Marshall Rescue Squad and east of Lunceford Lane, Marshall District.  The property is zoned R-2 (Residential).  A map of the property is shown below.





Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:

The property is bordered by parcels zoned R-4 (Residential), RA (Rural Agricultural) and C-1 (Commercial-Neighborhood).  The predominant land use is residential and the property is also adjacent to Marshall’s Main Street (central business district).


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. Staff and referral agency findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are included as attachments.


The Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority (WSA) proposes to locate a water storage facility on Stephenson Hill (per local historian Eugene Scheel), or otherwise known as Cannon Ridge, in the south-west quadrant of Marshall.  This small hill was identified in the Marshall Citizen Committee VISION exercise as an important cultural and environmental resource to the community, and had a military significance associated with the Civil War.  Accordingly, the Marshal Service District Comprehensive Plan identifies Stephenson Hill as a preserved area, and such was given consideration during recent subdivision approval of this parcel.  Given the importance of Stephenson Hill/Cannon Ridge to the community, any public facility proposed to be located in this area should be given particular scrutiny to this regard and, if located, the facility should be very unobtrusive.


Zoning and Land Use


The property is currently zoned Residential (R-2).  Consistent with this zoning category, this property is located in a district that contains similar zoning and parcels, which are also within the Service District. The property is bound on 3 sides by parcels that are zoned Residential (R-4) and on one side is Rural Agricultural (RA).




1.      A Major Site Plan consistent with Article 12 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance and all applicable conditions set forth in the Special Exception must be submitted for approval prior to obtaining building and zoning permits. 


2.      This application cannot be approved unless a Special Exception to reduce the required open space for the Cannon Ridge Subdivision is first approved by the Board.  The Cannon Ridge Subdivision has an existing Special Exception which reduced their open space requirement from 50% to 44%, and because this proposed tower further reduces the open space, another Special Exception approval is required.  Section 2-309 specifically prohibits credit being given for open space for this type of public facility.




After reviewing the above stated Special Exception application the following comment is made:


Soils in proposed areas appear to be generally suitable. However, shallow rock may be encountered requiring the use of specialty equipment to dig footers.


Virginia Department of Transportation


Summary of VDOT comments:

The Warrenton Residency staff reviewed the above referenced Special Exception for the installation of a water storage silo, and note that the entrance to the water silo may need to be combined with one of the driveway entrances on Overlook Drive, because it appears as if there is no separation between the driveways on the cul-de-sac.

Summary and Recommendations:


Staff is not in support of this Special Exception and recommends a resolution to deny the request.  Also note that this application is directly linked to a Special Exception amendment request for a further reduction in open space to accommodate the water storage silo (SPEX03-MA-016).  Consideration of approval for this Special Exception first requires the approval of the open space reduction Special Exception Amendment or it cannot proceed.  At its April 29, 2004 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended denial of the open space reduction.


Since the two Special Exceptions are linked, it is suggested that they are treated in the same regard.  Additionally, staff asks the Board to take into consideration the historical significance of this site and the sensitivity of the proposed location.  The proposed location sits upon the highest point in Marshall, as well as one of historic significance.  It is an area that, albeit privately owned, is of great importance to community residents.  If the Board should decide to approve the aforementioned request, staff recommends maintaining the original conditions and resolution, with the addition of the amendment to the text, to reflect the change in open space (0.63 percent), and a reduction to 43% versus the required 50% or the formerly approved reduction of 44%.

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


Fauquier County Department of Community Development

Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority




  1. Statement of Justification
  2. Special Exception Plat
  3. Comments from Fauquier County Zoning Department
  4. Comments from Fauquier County Soil Scientist
  5. Comments from Virginia Department of Transportation