Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Raymond E. Graham, Cedar Run
District Supervisor 


                                     July 9, 2009

Staff Lead:


Andrew B. Hushour,
Assistant Zoning Administrator 


                               Community Development


A Resolution Initiating a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 3-314.6 and 5-1407 Relating to Motor Vehicle Impoundment and Towing Businesses


Topic Description: 

The proposed text amendment seeks to allow a potential increase in the number of vehicles allowed for impoundment by-right for towing businesses on a particular property.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

For purposes of good zoning practice, convenience, and general welfare, consider approval of the attached resolution.


Staff Report:



At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Supervisors on May 14, 2009, the Board passed an amendment to Chapter 13, Article V of the Fauquier County Code relating to law-enforcement requested towing. The newly adopted amendment seeks to ensure proper storage, availability, and service by persons and firms authorized to provide towing services at the request of the Sheriff's Office or other law enforcement personnel by establishing proper regulatory procedures. As a part of these procedures, Section 13-64.2.e requires that eligible towers be in compliance with local Zoning Ordinance regulations.  While compliance with the Zoning Ordinance was, of course, also previously required, the new procedures have resulted in the Sheriff’s Office checking with Zoning prior to adding a towing company to the authorized County list.

Following adoption of the amendments to Chapter 13, Zoning staff received numerous inquiries from existing towing businesses operating within the County requesting certification that their companies were in fact in compliance with zoning regulations. Under the current regulations, motor vehicle impoundment and towing businesses are allowed by-right with site plan approval in the I-1 and I-2 zoning districts, and with Special Permit and site plan approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) in the C-1 and C-2 zoning districts. Furthermore, Section 3-314.6 sets forth that no motor vehicle impoundment or towing business can have more than ten (10) vehicles stored on-site. The vehicle limit raised a significant level of concern by several of the applicants seeking placement on the Sheriff’s Office authorized list of service providers. In many cases, vehicles, especially those that are involved in an automobile accident, can remain on an impoundment lot for many weeks while insurance and repair related activities are carried out. By virtue of this type of activity alone, it is reasonable to consider that an increase in the number of vehicles allowed on-site may be appropriate.

Furthermore, in one instance, staff discovered that five separate towing businesses were operating on one parcel. While there is no expressed prohibition on the number of actual companies allowed to operate on one parcel, the 10 vehicle storage limit would still apply to the overall property, thus making it difficult for multiple users to realistically conduct business on any given site.

Proposed Amendment

This proposed text amendment would allow an increase in the number of vehicles allowed for impoundment on a parcel, thereby granting more flexibility to both single occupancy and multiple occupancy towing businesses. The primary issues to consider in deciding the amendment include whether it is appropriate to increase the number of vehicles allowed for a single operator or for a single property, whether such increases should be the same for all zoning districts, and whether such increases should be by-right or by special permit approval.

This initiation proposes no specific language for the text amendment, but rather is the first step in initiating staff’s study of the issue. As a part of the amendment process, staff will be looking at similar counties in the region and determining what limits, if any, are placed on the number of vehicles allowed for storage by towing companies.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

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

Fauquier County Business Owners
Department of Economic Development
Department of Community Development

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