Owner/Applicant:                                              Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

William A. Hamp, III/Karen H. Coleman                                             July 21, 2003

Staff Lead:                                                                                     Department:

Elizabeth A. Cook                                                            Community Development

Magisterial District:                                                                              PIN:

Cedar Run                                                                               6899-75-8606-000

Topic: A Resolution to Approve SE02-CR-29 Eastern Clearing: A Category 20 Special Exception to Allow the Construction of a Private Wastewater Treatment System with Discharge into an Open Ditch

Topic Description:

The Applicant is seeking Special Exception approval to install an on-site private sewage disposal system with direct discharge into a drainage swale.  Currently, Eastern Clearing operates from a temporary mobile office which is served by a failing septic system.  The new system will serve the improved office facilities planned for this industrial site.  The proposed system has been designed by a professional engineer and approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).


The property is located on the northeast side of Bealeton Road (Route 805), north of its intersection with Collins Lane .  The subject property is approximately 10.00 acres in size and is zoned Industrial (I-1).  Adjacent properties to the north and west are zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).  An active rail line marks the property's northwest boundary.  Properties to the south and east are zoned Industrial Park (I-1).

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Hold a public hearing and consider the attached resolution for approval.


In July 2002, the Applicant filed a Special Exception application seeking approval for the use of an Aquarobic Septic System to replace the failing system serving the Eastern Clearing office at 6006 Bealeton Road .  Action on this application was postponed several times, at the Applicant's request, to allow for ongoing site review.  A comprehensive evaluation of the soils on site revealed conditions that limit potential wastewater treatment and disposal to a discharge system. 

The action before the Board of Supervisors involves a decision to allow the placement of a private wastewater treatment system on the subject property.  The Board is not charged with the approval of the system itself.  The approval authority, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, has approved the system as designed.  The Fauquier County Health Department must complete its review of the proposed system and receive written approval from Fauquier County before it will issue a construction permit.

The Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance provides that a Special Exception for a private sewage treatment system which discharges into an open ditch or water, shall be allowed to replace an existing system which is serving an existing use.  The existing sewage system must have failed and have been certified by the Virginia Department of Health as a real or potential health threat, and a discharge system is the only alternative for the repair.   In approving such a system, the Board may establish conditions including, but not limited to, use, maintenance and testing. 

Section 17-17 of the County Code also imposes conditions on the construction of individual sewage disposal or treatment facilities requiring discharge into state waters.  This Section states that it shall be unlawful for any person or firm to make application to any state agency or enter into the design of any sewage disposal system by whatever name it shall be called that would require point discharge into any stream or drainage way in Fauquier County prior to making a formal request for public hearing to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.  This request must be made in writing through the Fauquier County Health Department.  This request shall be presented to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors to be advertised for public hearing at its next regular meeting.  Public notice shall be in accord with Section 15.2-2204 of the Code of Virginia.

In addition, this Section requires that any person submitting a request for discharge into state waters shall submit written proof of notification of all downstream property owners for a distance of one (1) mile.  Notice sent by certified mail to the last known address of such owner as shown on the current real estate tax books of Fauquier County shall be deemed adequate compliance with this requirement.  The provision of notice shall be the responsibility of the owner.  No request shall be considered within five (5) days of any such notice.

It should be noted that the required public hearing is for the benefit of the people of Fauquier County to provide notice of a proposed sewage discharge into County waters.  Approval or disapproval of the proposal by the Board of Supervisors in no way grants final approval of design, construction or discharge to County waters.  All such approval shall be charged to the authorities so designated to perform such duties.

Staff Analysis

Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance and other relevant policies and regulations.  An analysis of these referrals and the actual comments from the appropriate agencies are included as attachments to this report.

Comprehensive Plan

The subject property is located between the Bealeton Service District and the Midland Service District in an area characterized by soils that are recognized as being generally unsuitable for drainfields.

Zoning Considerations

The subject property is zoned Industrial Park (I-1), designed for industries where the primary activity is conducted within enclosed structures.  This district allows for public access industrial uses and commercial uses generally related to the industrial activities.

Engineering Considerations

The County Engineer has reviewed the Special Exception request and has the following comments:

  • The proposed outlet ditch terminates at the property line and does not connect to an identified existing receiving channel.  An easement should be obtained that will allow for the continuation of the proposed ditch to an existing receiving channel.  Offsite information may be required. 
  • According to the DEQ permit, up to one thousand (1,000) gallons per day may be discharged from this facility.  This creates a condition of sustained surface runoff, which may impact the downstream property owner.
  • The proposed outlet ditch has been designed with shallow (0.9 % - 1.4%) slopes in soils with low infiltration rates and high water tables.  The minimum recommended slope per the Fauquier County Stormwater Management Ordinance is 3%.  It is not likely that the proposed ditch will drain properly.  To facilitate proper drainage, the ditch could be lined or the discharge pipe could be extended to an adequate receiving channel.
  • A maintenance contract for the entire system should be required.

Soil Scientist's Considerations

The Fauquier County Soil Scientist has met on site with the Applicant's engineer and a representative from the Health Department to evaluate the topography, soils, and proposed design.  A comprehensive assessment of all identified conditions and requirements indicates that the system, as proposed, will function properly.  The County Soil Scientist recommends approval of SE02-CR-29 subject to a number of conditions, which are included in the Conditions of Development.

John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District

The John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District has reviewed this application and requests that the Applicant demonstrate that the discharge ditch will be able to carry the discharge at non-erosive velocities.  Chapter 5, page 120 in the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook (1992) notes that the permissible velocity for a tall fescue lined channel of 0-5% slope is 5 feet per second.

Soil Scientist's Considerations

The Fauquier County Soil Scientist has met on site with the Applicant's engineer and a representative from the Health Department to evaluate the topography, soils, and proposed design.  A comprehensive assessment of all identified conditions and requirements indicates that the system, as proposed, will function properly.  The County Soil Scientist recommends approval of SE02-CR-29 subject to a number of conditions, which are included in the Conditions of Development.

Summary and Recommendation:


  • The landowner, downstream of the currently proposed outfall, has been notified of the proposed discharge system and has no objections to the system, as proposed.
  • Verification of approval of the proposed system by DEQ has been received.
  • Clarification is needed regarding the discharge capacity of the proposed channel.
  • Due to industrial impacts on the natural receiving channel, restoration of the topography of the site will be required.
  • The Applicant has received permission from the downstream landowner to allow minor grading on their property to assure effective discharge flow.

In summary, the existing facility serving the subject commercial property is failing.  The Applicant has worked diligently with a consultant, the County Soil Scientist and the Health Department to identify a viable solution.  The proposed facility will meet that need.  Restoration of the site will provide an approved and adequate receiving channel. 

On June 26, 2003 , the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed Special Exception request, and moved to recommend approval, subject to the conditions noted below.

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

2.      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. The Site Plan shall be generally consistent with the plat approved with this Special Exception, with modifications only as necessary to meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.

4.      This Special Exception is subject to the provisions of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance, as may be determined by the Fauquier County Department of Community Development

  1. The proposed discharge corridor shall be restored to its pre-existing conditions.  This includes not only re-grading the swale but also removing all organic matter (tree stumps, mulch, and all other wood debris) and foreign materials found in the swale. This shall be done according to the Virginia Department of Health recommendations. Special care shall be taken to ensure that grading does not disturb soil to an excessive depth and that the shallow bedrock below is not exposed since this will interfere with infiltration.

6.      The discharge corridor shall be permanently fenced and shall remain a permanent swale.  A substantial permanent fence with a minimum height of five (5) feet shall be constructed and installed to prevent damage to the discharge corridor.  The fence shall be maintained and inspected monthly and, if needed, repaired within 48 hours of any damage.

  1. An annual maintenance contract shall be required for the proposed alternative wastewater treatment system with copies sent to the Virginia Department of Health and the Fauquier County Zoning Office.  Consideration for the maintenance of the discharge corridor shall be included in this contract.    If the discharge corridor is damaged in any way, it shall be reported immediately to the Virginia Department of Health for recommendations for repair. 

8.      Eastern Clearing shall work with the downstream property owner to ensure the drainage offsite will not interfere in any way with the current use of the downstream property owner’s land.

9.      The discharge ditch shall be constructed and maintained such that it conveys effluent at a non-erosive velocity and ponding does not occur.


            Special Exception Plat