Owners/Applicant                                              Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Wiltse, STBI-Warrenton, LLC                                                                 July 21, 2003

Academy Hill Developers, LLC

M. Williams/Toll Bros., STBI-Warrenton, LLC.

Staff Lead:                                                                                      Department:

Robert C. Counts                                                                Community Development

Magisterial District: Center                                                                PIN(s):

Service District: Warrenton                 6994-02-8294-000, 6994-13-8021-000

                                                              6984-92-6454-000, 6984-93-2775-000

                                                              6984-83-4176-000, 6994-03-2688-000

Topic:  Resolutions to Approve the Warrenton Chase Special Exception Requests     SE03-C-20, SE03-C-21, And SE03-C-22.


The property is on the north side of Duhollow Road (Route 672) at its intersection with Frytown Road (Route 674).


The property is in the R-1 residential district. It consists of approximately 244.5 acres.

Adjacent Land Uses:

Properties to the north and east are Residential (R-1), to the south Residential (R-1) and Village (V), and to the west Residential (R-1) and Rural Agricultural (RA).

Topic Description:

The Applicant is seeking approval of a Preliminary Subdivision Plat to divide ± 244.5 acres zoned Residential-1 (R-1) into one hundred fifty (150) single-family residential lots ranging in size from ± .57 acres to 2.04 acres, with approximately 125.78 acres (±51.44%) in open space. 

However, given the Preliminary Plat’s dependency on companion Special Exception applications (SE03-C-20, SE03-C-21, and SE03-C-22), Planning Commission action on the Preliminary Plat was deferred pending Board of Supervisors’ action on these requests. The Applicant has requested Special Exception approval under Category 20 to allow for a water storage system; Category 21 to allow for a community trail system and a utilities crossing in the floodplain; and Category 30 to allow for a waiver of the public sewer requirements.

Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors 

The Board of Supervisors is being asked to conduct a public hearing on the Applicant’s Special Exception requests and to consider the resolutions recommended by the Planning Commission. In summary, the Special Exception requests are:


The Applicant is seeking a Category 20 Special Exception to construct two utility components. First, the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority (WSA) has agreed to provide public water to the development. In order to obtain water service, the Applicant must extend the water line from the WSA water supply in the New Baltimore area along Frytown Road , and into the Warrenton Chase development.  One of these requirements is the construction of a water storage facility that will provide adequate reserves and will contribute to the enhancement of water pressure in the new service area. Such a facility requires a Category 20 Special Exception.

Second, the Applicant’s original development proposal sought a Special Exception to exempt the development from the requirement of either public sewer or a central community sewer system.  Early in the review of this proposal, County staff, and nearby neighborhood residents, expressed concerns that a development of this size on septic fields could possibly degrade a community aquifer that was already seen as fragile.  In response, the Applicant has proposed a community sewer system. Such a system, if approved, would be subject to regulation by a number of State agencies including the Health Department and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. It would be required to meet stringent standards for both construction and operation.  Such a system requires a Category 20 Special Exception.


The Applicant is also seeking Category 23 Special Exception. A Category 23 Special Exception is required for any development-related use of a FEMA designated floodplain. The Applicant proposes two such uses. First, because the property is bisected by a stream and floodplain, it is necessary to cross that stream with several components of the proposed utilities. Second, in order to accommodate the County’s plans for the provision of a trail system and greenway in developed areas surrounding the Town of Warrenton , the Applicant proposes to construct pedestrian trails crossing within the floodplain. 



The Applicant has requested a Category 30 Special Exception. Generally, the County Zoning Ordinance requires the use of public sewer and public water in the development of R-1 subdivisions of more than 25 lots or units. The proposed Warrenton Chase development contains 150 units, but is located outside of the area to be served by public sewer. The Applicant has sought public sewer from the Town of Warrenton , but the Town has declined to act on that request. In order to develop the property using an alternative to public sewer, the Applicant has requested a waiver of the public sewer requirement. Such a waiver requires a Category 30 Special Exception.

“2232” Determination

At the request of the Applicant, the Planning Commission has determined that the proposed water storage facility associated with SE03-C-20 is in accord with the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Accordingly, pursuant to Section 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia (C), that determination is hereby communicated to the Board of Supervisors.

Staff Analysis:

The Warrenton Chase development proposal, in various forms and appellations, has been on the Planning Commission agenda since September of 2002. A number of issues have been identified and resolved, only to spawn new concerns and complexities.

More than any other single reason, the difficulties experienced in finding solutions can be attributed to the fundamental, inseparable interrelationships between multiple complex components. It has been literally impossible to address technical issues in isolation; all must be considered in the context of the total project; all bring a set of problems that affect the others.

Given the complexity of the Applicant’s proposals, it is impossible to fully resolve all of the technical issues at this stage of development review. Rather, this report focuses on the fundamental decisions facing the Board of Supervisors at this stage of approval. It also attempts to define the conditions that will govern the various applications as they move through the remaining stages of the approval process.

SE03-C-20: Water Storage Facility

Currently, no public water service is available to the Warrenton Chase development area or the surrounding properties. An earlier proposal to develop community wells was met with significant community concern regarding the effect that such a private well system might have on both the quantity and quality of water available from wells on adjacent properties. In addition, public testimony indicated the existence of an illegal dumpsite dating to the 1950s and, as a result, that toxic materials had entered the water table. 

The developers of Warrenton Chase have recognized that the surest response to the community’s concerns regarding the effect of the proposed development on water supply is the extension of a safe and adequate public water supply.  They have responded by obtaining a commitment from WSA to provide public water service to the development and adjacent properties via an extension of a water main from the New Baltimore area well system to be constructed by the Applicant.

The proposed water tower is a necessary component of the proposed public water system. It is needed to provide both adequate on-site reserves and to boost water pressure to serve residential needs and assure adequate community fire protection.

Article 5-2000 of the County Zoning Ordinance requires that the Applicant demonstrate that there is no more suitable site for the water storage facility in an Industrial or Commercial District.  The Applicant has stipulated that the location for the water storage facility was chosen for two reason: 1) Its primary purpose is to provide near-by water reserves and some additional pressure to the proposed development and, as such, its proximity to the homes to be served is an important design element; and 2) Because there is no commercial or industrially zoned land near enough to the proposed development to ensure adequate flow and pressure. 

The extension of public water to the area is seen as a benefit to both the Applicant and the County. While Warrenton Chase gains a more workable plan for the development of the property, the Applicant also proposes to extend a public water line from its property further south within the existing public right-of-way to the site of a proposed County park.  Because the line would be run along Frytown Road, in the area closest to the former dump site, it would provide residents of the area the option of connecting to public water should they choose to do so.  Although no one should be required to connect to public water, its availability can effectively alleviate strongly voiced public concerns about both water quality and quantity in the Frytown area. In addition, the proposed public water system will be designed to provide sufficient water volume and pressure for fire protection. Staff recommends the approval of the water tower element of SE03-C-20 subject to the following conditions:

1.      The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors has determined that the proposed extension of water service by WSA can be made without detrimental effect on the residents now served, or planned to be served, by the New Baltimore well system.

2.      The physical extension of water lines shall be made at the sole expense of the Applicant, with no costs transferred to the County or WSA.

3.      The physical extension of water lines shall be made in a manner that provides adequate lateral crossings of both Frytown and Duhollow Roads, as determined by WSA, to facilitate the connection to public water for current residents on either side of these two roads.

4.      The Applicant shall extend water line service to those lots in Frytown with designated contaminated wells that are under management of the Department of Emergency Services.

SE03-C-20: The Community Wastewater System

The use of package treatment facilities and land application of treated effluent is not new technology. Such systems have been approved by the Health Department and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and are in use throughout the State. However, based on recent discussions with WSA and the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority, it seems that there have been a number of such systems that have required remedial improvements and even replacement, sometimes at public expense.  It is essential that a high degree of confidence in long-term performance be attained prior to approving this type of system. This requires adherence to a number of criteria, among them: stringent design and operating requirements, adequate system redundancy, and a reliable entity to own and operate the system.

The Applicant has stipulated the intent to meet all such criteria, however, at this stage of review, it is impossible for anyone to describe the exact configuration of the system or its operating parameters.  For example, newly submitted material assesses the capacity of 184 potential drainfields to make the case for a 200% redundancy in land application sites. This information may or may not reflect reality.

First, drainfield use (and consequently redundancy) appears to be estimated on the basis of 45,000 gallons per day (gpd) average community water consumption. This equates to 300 gpd for each home, a figure typically associated with an average size 3-bedroom home. It is unclear whether it is appropriate to use this standard to evaluate the larger type of homes being proposed for this site.

Second, the same perc rate has been used for each of the 184 drainfield sites. Based on known soils information, this will certainly not be the case. Some sites will perform better than others. In the final analysis, actual system performance may exceed the figures used by the Applicant, and it may not. Ultimately, the system capacity (and redundancy) will depend on which sites are actually put in use and which are held in reserve.

The preceding is a case in point as to why the Applicant cannot be expected to prepare a final system design and operating plan as part of the Special Exception application. All concerned agree that there is some distance to be covered between approval of a Special Exception and implementation of an approved system. It is, however, important to provide as much assurance as possible that a Special Exception can be expected to perform, if approved.

While the proposed system is not new to Virginia , it is new to Fauquier County . At this stage of review, staff must defer to the experience of others in crafting meaningful conditions of approval.  Based on the above referenced discussions, staff suggests that the following conditions be imposed should the Board of Supervisors decide to approve the proposed wastewater system:

  1. The system shall be designed and built to the WSA standards in place at the time of system approval.
  2. The system shall be designed to accommodate future connection to a conventional sewer system should lines be extended to the site.
  3. The Applicant shall be responsible for all design and construction costs.
  4. The Applicant shall be responsible for all costs of initial operation up to the time of transfer to a public entity. During this period, the operation and maintenance will be provided by not less than a Class “A” wastewater operator licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia .  Written documentation with respect to the operator shall be provided to the Building Official in the form of an operator agreement, prior to the issuance of the first occupancy permit for the facility.
  5. Following system completion and attainment of 90% rate of utilization, or at an earlier time deemed appropriate by the Board of Supervisors and WSA, the entire system (including treatment facilities, primary drainfields, and reserve drainfields) shall be conveyed in fee simple ownership to WSA or another appropriate entity approved by the Board of Supervisors. With either option, operation and maintenance shall be by the WSA.
  6. Prior to site plan submittal for the private sewage treatment facility approved hereby, the Applicant shall:

a)      File an application with the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, for the proposed private sewage system.

b)      Conduct a preliminary meeting with the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, to determine basic design parameters acceptable to the Department.

c)      The Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, and the County Soil Scientist shall conduct a field inspection to identify specific sites on the property that are both adequate and suitable for use as effluent discharge areas.

d)      Submit a soils evaluation proposal to the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, and the Fauquier County Soil Scientist for the proposed site of drainfields associated with the facility.  As part of this evaluation, the Applicant shall conduct a saturated hydraulic conductivity test (K-sat) to determine a permeability rate that will be used in developing suitable design criteria.

e)      Submit a design to dispose of sewage effluent, and calculate nitrate loading, ponding and disposal means in accordance with State and local health codes.

f)        Effect any design revisions deemed necessary by the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, and submit the revised package to the local Health Department for the issuance of a permit.

7.            In addition, the following general provisions shall also apply:

a)      The private sewage treatment facility shall, preferably, be operated by a public entity, but under no circumstances by less than a Class “A” wastewater operator licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia .  Written documentation with respect to the operator shall be provided to the Building Official in the form of an operator agreement, prior to the issuance of the first occupancy permit for the facility.

b)      The Applicant shall provide an annual certification statement to the Zoning Administrator indicating that a Class “A” or higher operator is under a current contract for the sewage treatment facility.

c)      Either the Applicant or the licensed operator shall ensure that 24-hour a day monitoring and notification systems and procedures suitable to the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, have been developed and are in then current effect for the sewage treatment operations.  The operator shall be responsible for notifying the County and all adjacent property owners of any system malfunctions within 24 hours of the occurrence of the malfunction.

d)      Monitoring reports of the sewage treatment system shall be submitted to the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, as required on a routine basis, with accumulated results submitted to the Zoning Administrator on an annual basis.

e)      Before the issuance of the first occupancy permit, the Applicant shall provide written evidence to the Building Official that the Applicant has arranged for the appropriate disposal of bio-solids produced on-site.

8.            The Applicant shall make suitable provisions for the payment of sufficient fees and dues by members of the homeowners’ association, to be created for the development, to assure that in addition to all other fees and dues charged to homeowners for other purposes of the said association, there are raised annually sufficient funds for safe operation and maintenance of the system, to include creation of a reserve fund to be used in the event of emergencies, or replacement of components, for so long as the system shall remain in operation.

SE03-C-21: Use of the Floodplain

The Applicant has calculated floodplain boundaries that differ from the FEMA boundaries currently on file with the County. The County Engineer has required that the Preliminary Plat reflect either the new data, if approved by FEMA, or the existing FEMA data on file. In the latest revisions to the Preliminary Plat, the Applicant has indicated the use of current FEMA data to set the floodplain parameters for design purposes. The Applicant has further indicated that all structures previously identified as presenting unnecessary impacts on the floodplain, have now been removed from the floodplain. In the absence of a complete technical review, this claim had not been verified at the time of this report.  However, these concerns can be addressed in the conditions of development associated with the Preliminary Plat and must be resolved by the Applicant prior to final plat approval. The Planning Commission has postponed action on the Preliminary Plat pending Board action on the companion Special Exception requests.

Finally, the Applicant had previously sought approval to place the Stormwater Management ("SWM") and associated Best Management Practice ("BMP") facilities in the floodplain, citing this as the best location for these facilities.  At the insistence of County staff, the Applicant has agreed to remove these facilities from the floodplain. This action by the Applicant reduces the Special Exception request to only the floodplain crossings associated with utility and trail crossings. Staff finds that, if constructed properly, such disturbances of the floodplain will be incidental to the development of the property and should not impose any significant impacts on the floodplain. Staff recommends approval of SE03-C-21 subject to the following conditions:

  1. No such use shall cause an increase in the level of flooding or velocity of floodwaters.
  2. No such use shall create a potential hazard of debris subject to movement by floodwaters, which might cause damage downstream.
  3. The Applicant shall have obtained and shall present evidence attesting any applicable approvals by State and Federal authorities concerning such a use.
  4. 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.
  5. No Stormwater Management ("SWM") or associated Best Management Practice ("BMP") facilities shall be placed in the floodplain.

SE03-C-22: Waiver of Public Sewer Requirement

In residential zones, the Board may grant a special exception to waive the requirement for public sewer where the following standards are met:

1.      The development is located within an area in which the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority formally refuses, in writing, to extend sewer service or the Applicant demonstrates to the Board that the provision of public sewer is not technically or financially feasible in the area to be served, and

2.      Where the proposed subdivision lots are to be on individual septic fields, the Applicant includes with the special exception application a soils report demonstrating that the development will not degrade ground water resources or impair any watershed, and that the proposed subdivision will meet all requirements of the Health Department and the Subdivision Ordinance for development on individual septic fields. The Applicant shall provide sufficient data to demonstrate that the development will not jeopardize the safety of present or future water supplies and information regarding the topography, soil type and condition, surface and subsurface drainage condition, water table, history of failures of septic systems in adjacent areas, and the extent of septic system development in the area, or

3.      Where the proposed subdivision lots are to be served by a private central sewer system, the Applicant has demonstrated that:

a.       The site characteristics are such that all necessary health department and other governmental approvals can be obtained.

b.      The development will not degrade ground water resources or impair any watershed.

c.       The Applicant has sufficient financial resources and a business plan to insure the successful operation of the system for a period of at least ten years.

d.      That the system will be deeded to and operated by an entity with all the necessary authority and easements to operate the system in perpetuity.

e.       A Special Exception is obtained for the private treatment facility in accordance with Section 5-2000.

The Applicant has made a number of attempts to bring public sewer to this site. While the Town of Warrenton has not issued a written denial, its refusal to consider the Applicant’s request, absent action by the Board of Supervisors, is compelling evidence that such service will not be extended.

The option of developing the property using well and septic has also been considered. As noted above, community concerns relating to the use of drainfields and associated water quality in the surrounding area prompted the Applicant to propose the private central sewer system outlined in this report.

It is the stated preference of the Applicant to develop the property using public sewer. That is also the first preference of County staff. Toward that end, the Applicant has agreed to meet any reasonable standards required to allow the transfer of the proposed wastewater treatment system to a public entity. Ultimately, however, the decision by a public entity to accept the proposed system is out of the hands of the Applicant.

Given the uncertainty associated with public ownership, to deny the Applicant’s request for a waiver of the public sewer requirement might unreasonably foreclose development options on the site. The Planning Commission has recommended approval of SE03-C-22 subject to the following condition:

The Applicant shall give first priority to developing the property using a publicly owned sewer system, second priority to developing with a privately built system to be conveyed to a public entity, and third priority to developing with conventional individual drainfield systems.

“2232” Determination

Pursuant to Section 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia, the Applicant requested a determination by the Planning Commission that the proposed water storage facility associated with PP03-C-17 and SE03-C-20 is in accord with the Comprehensive Plan.

According to this section of the Code, whenever a local planning commission has recommended a comprehensive plan for the locality, and such plan has been approved and adopted by the governing body, the Plan shall control the general or approximate location, character and extent of each feature shown on the plan. Thereafter, unless a feature is already shown on the adopted Comprehensive Plan, no public utility facility or public service corporation facility shall be constructed, established or authorized, unless and until its approximate location, character, and extent have been reviewed and approved by the Commission. The Planning Commission has determined that the proposed water storage facility is substantially in accord with the adopted Comprehensive Plan. 

Summary and Recommendations

SE03-C-20: Water Storage Facility

The proposed facility is necessary to support the provision of public water to this development and the adjacent community. The Planning Commission has recommended approval of this Special Exception subject to the conditions outlined above.

SE03-C-20: Community Wastewater System

The development of this property using public sewer is the stated first preference of the Applicant and County staff reviewing this application. In the absence of conventional public sewer, staff supports the Applicant’s proposed community wastewater system over development using individual drainfields, if it is implemented in accordance with the recommended conditions. However, the Planning Commission has recommended denial of this request for the following reasons:

  1. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate the long-term viability of the proposed land application of sewage effluent.
  2. Absent an agreement to transfer the proposed system to public ownership, the Applicant has failed to demonstrate either the long-term viability of system ownership or operational responsibility.
  3. The Applicant has failed to adequately demonstrate the provision of 200% reserve drainfield area as recommended by WSA draft standards for such systems.
  4. The Applicant has failed to adequately demonstrate that the proposed community drainfield system will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties.
  5. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate that the anticipated life of the proposed system will provide adequate long-term sewage disposal for the proposed community.
  6. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposed land application of treated sewage will not degrade surface or groundwater to an extent that may hinder or discourage the development or use of adjacent properties.
  7. Similar systems in other jurisdictions have required extensive upgrades and/or replacements with conventional sewage systems at significant public cost; the proposed system provides no safeguards against such an occurrence.
  8. In the absence of a specific system design, the Applicant has been unable to provide adequate information on long-term operating history and reliability of the proposed system.
  9. The Applicant has failed to adequately address the effect of reduced common open space that would be required by the proposed community drainfields.
  10. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate that the primary drainfields, required reserve drainfield areas, SWM/BMP facilities, and required open space can all be adequately accommodated within the proposed development.
  11. The denial of this request will not preclude the Applicant from pursuing other reasonable development opportunities for this site.

Staff has prepared resolutions of both approval and denial for consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

SE03-C-21: Use of the Floodplain

Staff finds that the proposed use of the floodplain will not, if constructed properly, impose any significant impact on the floodplain or properties up stream or down stream from the site. The Planning Commission has recommended approval of this Special Exception, subject to the recommended conditions.

SE03-C-22: Waiver of Public Sewer Requirement

The Applicant has made every effort to obtain public sewer for this development. The pending Special Exception for a community wastewater system reflects an agreement by the Applicant to transfer that system to public ownership. However, others must decide acceptance of such a transfer. Given the uncertainty associated with public ownership, to deny the Applicant’s request for a waiver of the public sewer requirement might unreasonably foreclose development options on the site. The Planning Commission has recommended approval of SE03-C-22, subject to the recommended condition.

“2232” Determination

The proposed water storage facility is integral to the objective of providing public water to the proposed development and the adjacent community. Since the Comprehensive Plan supports the development of the subject property and the continuing residential use of adjacent properties, the Planning Commission has determined that the proposed facility is compatible with the Comprehensive Plan and recommends that the Board of Supervisors support that finding.


1.      Special Exception Plat

2.     County Soil Scientist's Report

3.    County Engineer 's Report

4.      Resolution of Approval-SE03-C-20: Water Storage Facility

5.      Resolution of Approval-SE03-C-20: Community Wastewater System

6.      Resolution of Denial-SE03-C-20: Community Wastewater System

  1. Resolution of Approval-SE03-C-21: Use of the Floodplain

  2. Resolution of Approval-SE03-C-22: Waiver of Public Sewer Requirement