Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Calvin L. Ritchie; Trust, Owner
Synagro Central, LLC, Applicant 

July 10, 2008

Staff Lead:


Holly Meade, Senior Planner

Community Development

Magisterial District:   Cedar Run                                                                                                 PIN:
Service District:
None                                                                                                7808-52-3089-000


A Resolution to Approve SEAM08-CR-003 and SPEX08-CR-014 – C.L. Ritchie Trust, Owner, and Synagro Central, LLC, Applicant – C.L. Ritchie Trust Farm, Biosolids Storage Facility – Cedar Run District

Topic Description:

SEAM08-CR-003 and SPEX08-CR-014 – C.L. Ritchie Trust, owner and Synagro Central, LLC, Applicant – C.L. Ritchie Trust Farm,  Biosolids Storage Facility. The Applicant wishes to renew and amend a Category 18 Special Exception for a biosolids storage facility.  The Applicant is also requesting approval of a Category 23 Special Exception to continue an existing use located within the floodplain. 

Category 18 Special Exception, Renewal and Amendment – Biosolids Storage Facility 

Synagro Central, LLC, operates a biosolids storage facility on the property of Calvin L. Ritchie, Trust.  The facility is used to store municipal biosolids during periods of inclement weather when soil conditions are not suitable for the biosolids to be transported directly from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and applied to farm fields.  The Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Health require that adequate biosolids storage be provided for land application programs to insure environmentally sound operations are conducted.  The stored biosolids are removed from the storage facility at least annually and are transported to farms in Fauquier County where they are applied to cropland, hay and pasture fields.  The applicant contends that biosolids applications benefit Fauquier County farmers by providing them with fertilizer and soil conditioner, and in the case of lime amended biosolids, a lime application, thus substantially reducing the farmers’ crop production costs.  

Synagro originally acquired a state permit through the State Water Control Board to build the biosolids storage facility in 1983.  In 1994, the permitting authority was delegated to the Virginia Department of Health, which issued the current permit to Synagro to operate this facility.  In January 2008, the regulatory authority of the entire biosolids program was delegated to the Department of Environmental Quality. 

Typically, biosolids are deposited in the facility during wet weather periods in November through March or April and removed from the facility during April through June or July.  Wet weather conditions during other times of the year may require storage and removal during other months of the year.  Synagro states their goal is to minimize the amount of time the facility is used and, in years where there are mild winters with below normal precipitation, little or no biosolids are stored in the facility. 

In the past, the biosolids removed from the facility were applied in Fauquier County only, as this was a Special Exception condition.  Typically the farmers served were within a 35 mile haul distance of the facility.  Over the years, up to seventy-six (76) farmers have been permitted to receive biosolids; however, the number of farmers served in any given year depends on the amount of sludge stored and the amount of land they have available for biosolids applications.  The amount of farmland needed annually to empty the facility typically averages 1,300 acres per year.  Currently, Synagro has 19,728 acres permitted in Fauquier County. 

Synagro’s original Special Exception permit granted by the Board of Supervisors in 1987 required administrative renewal by the Zoning Administrator every five years.  For this renewal, however, several of the conditions need to be re-evaluated, which is the reason for this application as a public hearing item versus an administrative renewal.  The applicant is requesting conditions 1, 8, 12 and 13 dealing with spreading locations, entrance requirements and monitoring be amended as outlined below: 

  • Over the years Synagro has serviced many farms across Fauquier including but not limited to areas of Cresthill, Hume, Marshall, Summerduck, and Bealeton.  However, due to the significant rise in fuel costs, Synagro prefers to utilize farms closer to the facility for material stored in the facility.  Whenever possible, farms north of Warrenton and in northwestern Fauquier County are serviced by delivering material directly from the WWTP’s in northern Virginia.  For this reason, Synagro has requested that Fauquier County allow them to haul to nearby farms in neighboring counties when it makes economic sense to do so.  Synagro would continue to offer priority to Fauquier County farmers.  When the applicant met with the Cedar Run Supervisor, it was suggested that a limit be placed on how much material would be allowed to be spread outside the County.  A condition has been drafted limiting spreading outside the County to 25% of lagoon capacity or 5,000 wet tons annually.
  • Biosolids are transported to and removed from the storage facility in tractor/dump trailer units.  Since the storage facility is located very close to Route 17, the transport trucks only travel a short distance (0.4) miles on  Ritchie Road.  Several years ago, the entrance to the facility was upgraded to a commercial entrance per VDOT standards.  The entrance was widened and paved, as well as the line of site improved.  Synagro uses “Trucks Entering Highway” signs during periods of heavy truck traffic using the entrance.  A condition has been drafted removing reference to the highway entrance permit as it has already been granted.
  • Conditions were placed on the surface water monitoring of the stream on the east side of the facility.  Over the past 20 years, Synagro has conducted the monitoring of ground and surface water at the facility in accordance with the standards and protocol set by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health.  However, the frequency of testing standards set by the State for both ground and surface water is on a quarterly basis, whereas the County required monthly tests for the stream surface water.  Synagro has requested that the existing conditions be combined and revised to read, “Ground and Surface water monitoring program shall be in accordance with the guidelines required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Health.  Synagro will provide a copy of all analyses reports to the Fauquier County Zoning Administrator”.  Monitoring will be discussed in more detail later in the staff report where the County’s Engineering comments are analyzed.


Category 23 Special Exception – Floodplain Uses 

When the Category 18 Special Exception for a Biosolids Storage facility was originally granted by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors in 1987 there was no mention of the facility being located within the floodplain.  When the applicant sought to amend the existing Special Exception for the lagoon, staff determined that the County needed to evaluate the lagoon’s effect on floodplain elevations for an unnamed tributary to Brown’s Run.  

In summary, the HecRAS evaluation indicates that the previously constructed lagoon has caused a maximum increase in the 100-year flood elevation of 0.02 feet compared to pre-developed conditions.  The increase diminishes approximately 600-feet upstream of the lagoon. 

The County’s Engineering Division has expressed concerns related to the storage of biosolids in the 100-year FEMA floodplain.  These concerns along with potential solutions are outlined in the “Staff and Review Agency Comments” section of the staff report.   

In June 2008, the applicant submitted water testing results associated with the lagoon to the County and DEQ to address Planning Commission and staff concerns that the lagoon was leaking and negatively affecting ground and/or surface water.  Synagro met with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality representative Randy Chapman, as well as Froehling and Robertson representatives Ron Etter and Vince Revene at the lagoon on June 12, 2008.  Ed Stuart of the Northern Regional office of DEQ requested review of the ground and surface water monitoring program at the facility. 

In their letter dated June 20, 2008, DEQ stated that following their initial review of the data as well as general knowledge of the soil types in the area of the lagoon, that it appeared unlikely there was any problem with leakage at the facility.  However, after observing the groundwater monitoring well casings and given their age, there may be a need for the renovation or replacement of the wells.  Additionally, DEQ suggested that in order to complete the surveillance of the movement of groundwater past the facility to the stream, a fourth well may be necessary between the upper northeast corner of the lagoon and the stream.  DEQ’s report is included as Attachment 11.  DEQ will work with Synagro LLC on these possibilities as they renew Synagro’s state permit.


Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:  

The property is located on the south side of Ritchie Road (Route 644), east of its intersection with Marsh Road (Route 17), Cedar Run District.  The property is currently the site of Synagro’s lagoon and a portion of the Ritchie family’s farming operation.  The property is zoned a combination of Rural Agriculture (RA) and Industrial (I-1). 


Surrounding Zoning and Current Land Use: 

Property to the north, south, and east is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA) and used for farming and residential purposes.  Property to the west is zoned Industrial (I-1 and I-2) and the site of Fauquier’s Finest, an abattoir, and Payne’s Paving operations. 

Site History:   

In 1987 the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved a Special Exception for a Class A sludge storage facility on the property.  In 1992, 1997, and 2002 the Special Exception was renewed for five year periods by the Zoning Administrator.  The applicant wishes to amend several of the previously approved conditions with this renewal; therefore, a public hearing is required.  With the Special Exception Amendment, staff noted the existing use is located within the 100-year floodplain and has required a Special Exception for Category 23, Floodplain Uses. 

Comprehensive Plan/Land Use:  

The subject property is designated as a rural area and is subject to the Rural Areas Land Use Plan, Chapter Eight, of the Comprehensive Plan.   Preservation and enhancement of the rural areas and preservation of the agricultural economy in Fauquier County have consistently been major goals of the County.  The County seeks to nurture agriculture and help preserve the land resource for future farming opportunities through actions and programs under its control and domain.   

Special Exception Analysis:  

Article 5-006, General Standards 

General standards seek to ensure that the requested use does not adversely affect neighboring properties. 

Article 5-1801, Standards for All Category 18 Uses in Rural Zoning Districts 

As agriculture is the preferred use in these districts (see Section 3-503), consideration relating to compatibility with neighboring uses shall emphasize uses in the vicinity of a proposed Category 17 special permit. 

The surrounding uses are all agricultural with the exception of the neighboring Category 17, abattoir and Payne’s Paving.  The Zoning Administrator has opined that this is an agricultural use. 

Article 5-1806, Additional Submission Requirements for Class B Biosolids Storage Facility 

In addition to the submission requirements set forth in Section 5-011 above, all applications for special exceptions for biosolids storage facilities for Class B biosolids shall be accompanied by the following: 

1.      Copies of submission to the State Health Department or Department of Environmental Quality for the proposal.

2.      Copies of Certificate of Insurance.

3.      A statement authorizing Fauquier County to sample biosolids when desired. 

The Department of Environmental Quality is currently processing renewal of the permit.  The other items have been provided. 

Article 5-1807, Additional Standards for Class B Biosolids Storage Facility 

1.    Applicable approvals substantiated by documents called for in paragraph 1806.1 above.  No activities addressed for such State certificates and approvals except in full compliance therewith. 

2.    Unless specifically reduced by the Board, for good cause shown, no such facility shall be located closer than 300 feet to any lot line or closer than 1000 feet to any land not in an Agriculture, Conservation or I-2 zoning district. 

3.    Unless specifically reduced by the Board, for good cause shown, the highway entrance to such a facility shall be located not more than 1000 feet from a major collector, on a secondary road with pavement not less than 20 feet. 

4.    Proof that the insurance has been obtained covering the proposed activities sufficient to protect the public from damage and injury resulting from the hauling, storage or application of sludge.  The sufficiency of such insurance shall have been previously approved by the Board. 

5.    Verification that the applicant has sufficient land in Fauquier County available upon which to apply to holding capacity of the storage facility within a period of ninety (90) days. 

The use does appear to be compatible with the surrounding agricultural area and has been continuing in the same location for over twenty years.  The other standards dealing with location, proof of insurance and verification of land availability have been provided by the applicant. 

Article 5-2301, Standards for All Category 23 Uses 

1.   No such use shall cause an increase in the level of flooding or velocity of flood waters. 

2.   No such use shall create a potential hazard of debris subject to movement by flood waters which might cause damage downstream. 

3.   The John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District shall be given the opportunity to comment on such uses. 

4.   The applicant shall have obtained and shall present evidence attesting any applicable approvals by State and Federal authorities concerning such a use. 

5.   Materials and equipment stored in the floodplain shall not be buoyant, flammable or explosive, and shall not be subject to major damage by flooding or such materials and equipment must be firmly anchored to prevent flotation or movement and/or can be readily removed from the area within the time available after flood warning. 

6.   Special exceptions shall only be issued after the Board of Supervisors has determined that the granting of such will not result in (a) unacceptable or prohibited increase in flood heights, (b) additional threats to public safety, (c) extraordinary public expense, (d) create nuisances, (e) cause fraud or victimization of the public, or (f) conflict with local law or ordinances. 

7.   Special exceptions shall only be issued after the Board of Supervisors has determined that the special exception will be necessary to provide the applicant with reasonable use of the parcel of land in question, taken as a whole. 

8.   The Zoning Administrator shall notify the applicant for a special exception in writing, at the time of filing, that the issuance of a special exception to construct a structure below the one hundred (100) year flood elevation (a) will increase risks to life and property, and (b) will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance. 

9.      A record of the above notification as well as all special exception actions, including justification for their issuance, shall be maintained and any special exceptions which are issued shall be noted in the annual report submitted to the Federal Insurance Administrator. 

The applicant has provided calculations indicating the previously constructed lagoon has caused a maximum increase in the 100-year flood elevation of 0.02 feet compared to pre-developed conditions. 

Site Suitability/Environment:  

The majority of the lagoon site is located within the 100-year FEMA floodplain as shown with the cross-hatching below.  The location of the access road has been moved out of the floodplain since the aerial below was taken.  

 Staff and Review Agency Comments:   

Staff and 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 summarized below.  Following each comment is a staff note in italics stating how the comment has been addressed: 

Category 18, Class B Biosolids Storage Facility 


Update:  The Engineering Division had the following comments on the testing information supplied by the applicant prior to last month’s meeting: 

  • Depth to groundwater appears to be less during the times when sludge is stored in the facility (i.e. during the winter months).
  • Alternative solution proposed on page 8: What are the interceptor trenches?  French drains?  Was the point to divert water around the facility to decrease inundation from stormwater?  Why would this require a discharge permit?
  • The report references test pits excavated “in and around the facility” to test the integrity of the liner (page 9).  Test pits are much more impactive than core samples, as were suggested by this office, and this was not considered destructive to the facility.
  • The revised version of the January 22, 2008 samples showed a large spike in Sodium in all of the monitoring wells, and an exceedence of the EPA ambient surface water standard for Copper, Zinc and Nitrates in MW-3.

DEQ has provided their analysis and it is included as Attachment 11.  The Engineering Office worked closely with staff in preparing conditions of approval for the Special Exception requests.  Condition number 1 requires the applicant to hire a licensed professional engineer or geologist to determine if the facility is negatively affecting ground or surface water. 

Previous comments from the Engineering Division are as follows: 

1.      In the 2/11/08 Synagro letter Mr. McMahon stated that Synagro was in agreement with the following four comments:

a.       Beginning in June 2008 the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will stop monitoring for fecal coliform and begin monitoring for e. coli as they consider this to be a better indicator of stream health.  It is suggested that with the permit renewal, e. coli characterization be provided with the monitoring results. 

When the State permit is re-issued as a DEQ permit e. coli testing will be required for stream sampling instead of the current fecal coliform.  Staff has provided a condition requiring e. coli monitoring. 

b.      The pond embankments should be inspected at some regular interval for impacts from burrowing animals.  Burrowing could compromise the structure of the embankment and allow for seepage.

It has been noted in Synagro’s State permit inspection that there is a problem with burrowing animals.  Synagro will be removing the animals and monitoring the site on a regular basis.  A condition has been provided requiring  removal and monitoring on a regular basis and which also allows the County to inspect at any time.   

c.       As-built elevations for the facility should be supplied. 

The applicant has provided the 1987 plans plus today’s aerial topographic survey confirming the depth of the lagoon and thus the capacity.  In addition, the applicant provided a letter dated January 11, 1990, from William C. Kraye, Ph.D., P.E. to the Virginia Department of Health stating that the lagoon was constructed in accordance with approved plans and specifications.  The County’s Engineering Division was concerned that the liner was not installed as outlined in the plans and thought the applicant may need to do a core sample or provide an engineering assessment as to how it was constructed.  The submitted material should alleviate the concerns as to how the facility was constructed. 

d.      Stream monitoring stations should be clearly marked, and a location well upstream of the facility should be monitored. 

Stream monitoring locations SW1 and SW2 have been clearly marked.  The SW1 that has been monitored for many years is actually upstream from the lagoon.  A Surface Water Monitoring well location map has been provided and a condition included that these locations remain clearly marked and maintained.  A condition has been included requiring an additional stream monitoring location upstream from the facility. 

This information should all be supplied to the County prior to approval. 

As outlined above, the information has been provided. 

2.      Synagro stated in their letter that they did not feel that it was necessary to extend the vegetated buffer between the biosolids land application area and the stream on the property.  The vegetated buffer that currently exists on the property is acceptable by State standards; however it is vegetated mostly with a mowed grass area.  The scrubby vegetated area extends only 15 feet in some locations.  This does not suffice as adequate treatment considering the biosolids application occurring every three years along with the additional application of liquid that has separated out of the biosolids and combined with stormwater.  This application is done within the floodplain.   

This site is located on a tributary to Browns Run.  Browns Run has been designated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as an impaired stream.  The levels of fecal coliform found in this stream exceed those that are considered safe for primary contact.  DEQ has determined that the impairment begins at the 17 Bridge, just downstream of the Ritchie property and extending down to the confluence with Marsh Run.  Based on this information, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan will be put together (as required by EPA) for Browns Run.   A TMDL is the maximum amount of any known contaminant that a stream can carry while still meeting primary (swimmable, fishable) contact standards.  In this case, the contaminant is fecal coliform.  Fecal coliform, or more specifically, e.coli enters into surface water by way of humans, livestock, pets and wildlife.  The only way to determine precisely where the contaminant is coming from is to perform Bacterial Source Tracking.  This is a process that attempts to identify a signature in the contaminated water that can be matched with a specific species.  This has been done on Browns Run and the results have shown the sources to be from all above identified categories.   

It is possible that this will affect future sewer discharge permits.  Once a stream has been determined to be impaired, the State encourages Best Management Practices to be used in dealing with discharge of fecal material into surface waters.  This encompasses both Agricultural and Residential development.  This also affects sewage treatment in that if a stream is already impaired the discharge standards become higher for sewage treatment plants.   

In order to mitigate for the possible runoff from the facility, and the land application of biosolids as well as stormwater that has settled on the biosolids, a planted riparian buffer could help to uptake nutrient runoff.  According to Natural Resource Conservation Service standards, the minimum effective planted buffer width is 35 feet.  In this case, the state has required that a 50 foot buffer be maintained between the field that receives land application of biosolids as well as biosolids stormwater, however this is mostly made up of a mowed grass area that may be fertilized.  Mowed grass does not act to uptake nutrients as effectively as a buffer planted with trees.  The recommendation would be for the 35 feet extending out from the stream bank be heavily planted according to NRCS specifications, leaving the remaining 15 feet in grass with no fertilization allowed.  The grass area would allow for spreading and slowing of the runoff.  The cost of the tree planting has been estimated by the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District (JMSWCD) to be $800/acre.  The proper planting specifications can be obtained from JMSWCD. If a buffer was extended 1,000 feet the cost would be less than $800.  In terms of extending the buffer, more is always better in terms of conservation, studies have shown a riparian buffer of less than 35 feet does not provide adequate uptake so this 50 foot buffer is the bare minimum. 

There is no precise evidence to suggest that the existing vegetative buffer of 50’ is inadequate in protecting water quality, nor is there clear evidence that the biosolids land applications are contributing to the impairment of Brown’s Run.  The applicant has agreed to a 35’ riparian buffer and a condition has been added. 

3.      Best management practices should be installed for washing of equipment handling biosolids.  The wash water should be drained into the facility to prevent offsite migration.  According to the 2/11/08 Synagro letter, the State does require vehicles to be checked for loose material prior to leaving the facility. 

A condition has been included requiring the wash water to be drained into the facility. 

4.      Characterization should be provided on the stormwater that is collected in the facility prior to land application.  The water should be sampled for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, heavy metals, fecal coliform, and e. coli bacteria.  Currently, this liquid is not characterized for fecal coliform or e. coli.  Due to the proximity of this property to a stream impaired with fecal coliform, this water should be tested prior to being applied adjacent to the stream.   

The stormwater is currently monitored for everything listed above with the exception of fecal coliform.  A condition has been included requiring the water to be sampled for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, heavy metals, fecal coliform and e. coli bacteria and provided on a monthly basis. 

5.      In the letter provided by Mr. McMahon of Synagro dated December 17, 2007, it is stated that the facility has been permitted by DEQ and the VDH and meets both state and federal standards.  This fact is not in question.  Both of these organizations have been monitoring the facility for compliance with state and federal regulations however the need for a special exception is derived from the location of the facility within a floodplain.  The state and federal standards do not address this fact. 

Noted, no action required. 

6.      The letter December 17, 2007 Synagro letter also states, “the biosolids quality stored in the lagoon continues to meet the ‘exceptional quality’ standard as it pertains to trace elements such as cadmium, nickel, lead etc.” the quality of the material within the facility is being measured by standards developed by the Department of Health for biosolids not for the water quality outside of the facility. 

Noted, no action required. 

7.      How many outside operations are contributing to the storage facility?   

A list of potential sources has been provided for informational purposes and included under additional information, Attachment 6. 

8.      Monitoring records from 2005 through October 2007 are missing. 

The applicant duly notes this and has provided the latest results.  In renewing the permit the applicant learned that the individual they had hired was not monitoring as required.  However, quarterly results during the time frame referenced have been provided because they were taken by Synagro’s contract lab and submitted per State requirements.   

9.      According to VA DEQ, Browns Run is impaired with fecal coliform beginning at the confluence with the unnamed tributary adjacent to this facility.   

This has been duly noted by the applicant, although it is their claim that it was also noted by DEQ that it was the first monitoring point upstream of the lagoon where Brown’s Run is impaired which means it could be coming from numerous locations throughout the watershed and not just from the unnamed stream from the Ritchie property. 

10.  How were the water monitoring parameters chosen?  Is this a standard list from the health department?  

The monitoring parameters meet state requirements. 

11.  The detection limits for some samples of Lead and Cadmium were higher than the MCL for toxicity to aquatic species; therefore these two constituents may have been in exceedence.  Each should be measured at 2 µg/l

12.  All lab result summary sheets list parameters Copper, Zinc, Cadmium and Lead in micrograms per liter ( µg/l).  On the data sheets from the lab, each of these parameters is listed in milligrams per liter (mg/l).  Which of these is correct?  1mg=1000µg

13.  For Cadmium, the EPA MCL is 0.004 mg/l however the detection limit used by the lab appears to be 0.01 mg/l which is too low to know if this chemical exists of the safe limit.  

The State requires all groundwater and surface water monitoring be measured in mg/l. 

14.  According to Synagro representatives, the pond liner was initially installed using red clay beneath several inches of concrete.  There is no information available regarding how the liner was installed (i.e. compacted).  Several inches of concrete have been added to the facility in recent years, however several cracks were observed with grass growing up through them.   

Engineering specifications have been provided on the installation of the liner and are included in Attachment 7. 

15.  Synagro representatives stated that no as-builts were available for the pond.  Fauquier County suggested that while the facility is empty spot elevations should be taken in order to ascertain the actual capacity.

This has been provided, see 1.c. 

16.  The location of SW-1 appears to be adjacent to the lagoon and not upstream.  In order to determine what the impact of the lagoon is on the surface water in the area, an upstream sample is needed.  During the on-site meeting on January 8, 2008 Mr. McMahon stated that a permanent sampling location marker will be installed adjacent to the stream. 

This has been provided, see 1.d. 

17.  Several depressions were observed along the back of the dam embankment which could be due to animal burrowing. 

This has been addressed, see 1.b. 

18.  The field adjacent to the facility receives land application of biosolids once every three years.  Per state requirements, there is a 50 foot grass strip between the area of application and the stream. 

This has been addressed, see 2. 

19.  The stormwater that is collected in the facility is land applied to fields on the property. 

The stormwater is applied on fields that are permitted for the land application of biosolids. 


1.                  The following Zoning Ordinance standards are applicable: 

a.       5-006 General Standards

b.      5-1801 Standards for All Category 18 Uses in Rural Zoning Districts.

c.       5-1806 Additional Submission Requirements for Class B Biosolids Storage Facility

d.      5-1807 Additional Standards for Class B Biosolids Storage Facility. 

Zoning Staff defers to Planning Staff in the evaluation of these standards, but would note that it does not appear that the submission requirements of 5-1806 have been met (current permit, insurance and authorization statement) or that 5-1807.5 has been addressed in the submission materials provided for review. 

Since these comments have been received the applicant has provided the required material.

2.         Staff notes the following special characteristics of this facility/property:

            a.         It is located in the Floodplain District

            b.         It is in Conservation Easement

            c.         It is in the Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District. 

            Noted, no action required. 

3.         Staff would note that some of the existing special exception conditions for the use are not clear as to intent.  More specifically: 

#6:       Insurance to protect the public from damage or injury resulting from the hauling or application of sludge in the amount of at least $1,000,000. 

This condition provides for no insurance coverage for damage resulting from storage (i.e. damage caused by a breach in the facility and contamination of the adjoining stream). 

The Zoning Ordinance requires:  “Proof that the insurance has been obtained covering the proposed activities sufficient to protect the public from damage and injury resulting from the hauling, storage or application of sludge.  The sufficiency of such insurance shall have been previously approved by the Board.”  Staff has revised the condition to include damage from storage as well.   

#9:       Lagoon to be used for temporary storage only when application to land is not possible. 

            Staff has no means of assessing whether or not the applicant complies with this condition, as no reporting is required to the County.

#12:     Stream monitoring program approved by State Water Control Board.

#13:     Stream monitoring to be done once a month.

            Again, staff has no way of knowing whether these conditions are met, as the applicant provides no stream monitoring information to the County.  Further, staff understands that the conditions of the State Water Control Board permit only require that the water be monitored for reporting purposes only.  No limits on various contaminants appear to be set with the permit, and the applicant has no responsibility for mitigation should an issue arise.  Given the impaired classification of the adjoining stream, the County may wish to consider whether to require the applicant to pay the county a fee for independent monitoring as well as a course of required action should an issue be identified.  These requirements could be established with the special exception. 

Staff has worked with the Engineering Division to develop stronger monitoring conditions.  It is not clear however, what actions would take place if future monitoring revealed failure to meet all standards. 

4.         The facility is located within the floodplain in violation of Zoning Ordinance Sections 3-323 and 4-400.  A special exception to allow the use/structure as an accessory agricultural use is required.  

The Special Exception to allow the use/structure as an accessory agricultural use is part of the current request.  The Zoning Administrator has determined that this is an accessory agricultural use.


·         The soils on the site are rated “not suited” to “poor” for general development using conventional septic tank and drainfield.  The limiting factors are flooding, depth to bedrock, high seasonal water table and high shrink – swell potential.  Soil map units that contain hydric soils or hydric soil inclusions are present on the parcel, indicating the possible presence of jurisdictional wetlands. 

Comment noted by the applicant; however, since no new disturbance is proposed the comment is not applicable at this time


·         No Comment 

Category 23, Floodplain Uses 

The Engineering Department has reviewed the above referenced Special Exception, Category 23, to allow the operation of a biosolids storage facility to be in compliance with the current Zoning Ordinance.  Based on the review, our office does not have sufficient information to determine whether the floodplain study provided accurately represents the effect of fill in the floodplain resulting from the biosolids storage facility.  The following comments must be addressed before an accurate representation of the floodplain analysis can be determined. 

1.      Provide additional information in the floodplain narrative to include starting boundary conditions, land cover description for the development of the Manning’s ‘n’ coefficients, and description of methodology used to develop the hydrologic and hydraulic analysis.

2.      Provide a digital copy of the hydraulic model for the existing and pre-developed conditions.

3.      Provide 100-year peak discharge calculations and drainage area map used in the hydraulic model.

4.      Extend the existing hydraulic model upstream to a point where no increase is shown to flood heights when compared to the pre-developed hydraulic model.

5.      Identify the property boundary and label the adjacent parcels with property owner(s) and PIN. 

The applicant has resubmitted the detailed information outlined above. Engineering has reviewed the additional information provided by the applicant in response to their April 10, 2008, comment letter.  The floodplain study appears to be a good representation of the impacts resulting from fill in the floodplain.  The study shows minimal increases and decreases in the 100-year water surface elevation of no greater than 0.02 feet on the adjacent property owner (PIN: 7807-59-7038).  The 100-year velocities also show minimal increases and decreases of no greater than 0.17 feet/sec.  Based on these results, Engineering has no further comments or conditions to bring forth regarding the Category 23 Special Exception.


Planning Commission Action: 

On June 26, 2008 the Planning Commission voted 3 to 1 (Center District Commissioner was absent) to approve the facility based on conditions developed during the Planning Commission work session and contained in Resolution Version 2. 

Summary and Recommendation:  

Should the Board of Supervisors consider a resolution of approval, two resolutions have been prepared.  Resolution Version 1 is based on conditions of approval as originally presented by staff at the Planning Commission’s June 26, 2008 work session; Resolution Version 2 is based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation at their June 26, 2008 public hearing.  The applicant objects to the Planning Commission’s revised conditions (Version 2) based on the fact that several requirements can be imposed at the discretion of the County Engineer.  With Version 1, the only condition to which the applicant is not in agreement is number 15.  The condition as drafted requires monthly testing of supernatant water; the applicant continues to request quarterly testing in accord with DEQ requirements.   

Alternatively, the Board of Supervisors may wish to deny the Special Exception amendment request.  Siting a biosolids facility in the floodplain poses a higher risk than if the facility were located outside the floodplain.   

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing and consider the attached resolutions with conditions of approval.  

Resolution Version 1 is based on conditions of approval as originally presented by staff at the Planning Commission’s June 26, 2008 work session.  

Resolution Version 2 is the version that was recommended by the Planning Commission.


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

Commissioner of the Revenue
Department of Economic Development
Area farmers



1.                  Statement of Justification

2.                  Special Exception Plat, dated 1988

3.                  Comment Responses from Applicant

4.                  Comment Responses and floodplain information from Watershed Consulting, PLLC

5.                  Certificate of Insurance

6.                  Additional information requested by Engineering including monitoring, potential sources, etc.

7.                  Liner specifications

8.                  State Site Inspection Form dated November 2007

9.                  Letter from Froehling & Robertson, Inc. dated December 14, 2007 addressing monitoring points and the impairment of Brown’s Run

10.              Applicant’s request for revised conditions

11.              DEQ letter dated June 20, 2008

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