Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Terrence L. Nyhous, Vice-Chairman, Center District Supervisor


August 13, 2009


Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator 

Community Development 


A Resolution Initiating a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 2-705, 3-300, 5-900, and 5-1800 to Clarify that a Residence and its Accessory Structures and Uses are Allowed Within Non-Common Open Space and to Shift Equestrian Facilities From the Outdoor Recreation Category to the Agriculture Category


Topic Description: 

The proposed text amendment clarifies that a non-common open space parcel may be developed with a residence and its accessory structures and uses, such as garages, sheds, home occupations, etc.   The existing text of the Zoning Ordinance does not allow this, yet historically, a residence and its accessory structures and uses have always been allowed in practice.   The text amendment also proposes moving Equestrian Facilities from its current classification under “Outdoor Recreation” to the “Agriculture” category.  As non-common open space uses are limited by the language of the Zoning Ordinance as well as the language of the recorded easement to those uses listed under the Agriculture category, Equestrian facilities are not currently allowed.  Equestrian facilities include boarding and instruction, as well as spectator events. 


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

For purposes of good zoning practice, convenience, and general welfare, consider initiation of the proposed text amendment through adoption of the attached resolution.


Staff Report:

Residential Use 

Section 2-705.1 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance states:

2-705                           General Requirements

All lands and improvements as set forth in Section 702 above shall be established and maintained in accordance with the following requirements:

1.   The lands and improvements shall be described and identified as to location, size, use and control in an open space easement.  These restrictive deeds shall be written so as to constitute a deeded open space easement to run with the land and be in full force and effect in perpetuity unless terminated in a manner set forth hereinafter.  These restrictions shall include prohibition of commercial, industrial and residential development and shall appropriately limit the use to those permitted uses shown in 3-318.

The last sentence of this section effectively prohibits a dwelling unit on the property, as well as the types of accessory buildings and uses typically associated with a dwelling unit (i.e., garage, tenant house or efficiency apartment, pool, home occupations).   Notwithstanding this language, it has been the practice of the County, since the inception of the non-common open space provision, to allow a residence and its accessory structures on a property.  This approach is reflected not only in practice, but also by the specific language of the non-common open space deeds approved by the County, which typically allow a single primary dwelling unit on the property as well as the accessory structures and uses.    The text amendment codifies this existing practice, by adding language to the above section clarifying that the dwelling unit is allowed.

Equestrian Facilities

The same Section 2-705.1 referenced above, last sentence, limits uses on properties with non-common open space to those listed in Section 3-318 of the Zoning Ordinance, which is the Agriculture use category.  The Zoning Ordinance restriction is incorporated into the non-common open space deed of easement language; therefore, most recorded non-common open spaces contain this explicit language limiting uses on the property to those listed under Agriculture. 

An issue recently arose where the a property owner, Reta Rodgers, sought to hold Equestrian events at Eastwood Farm, a property owned by the Rodgers family located on Old Auburn Road directly across from the Fauquier Fairgrounds.  The property has a non-common open space easement limiting uses to those listed under Section 3-318 (agriculture), and therefore Equestrian facilities are not allowed by the Zoning Ordinance or the terms of the easement.

The request raised the issue of whether or not Equestrian Facilities should be allowed on properties in a non-common open space easement.    As currently structured, the Zoning Ordinance classifies Equestrian Activities to include boarding, instruction and both spectator and non-spectator events, as Outdoor Recreation (Category 9) and therefore none of these activities are allowed within non-common open space.     Certainly horse boarding and instruction seems appropriate for properties which are preserved for agriculture.   Equestrian events raise some issues with regards to compatibility with non-common open space, as they can be very intensive and may require substantial facilities, potentially conflicting with other goals of a non-common open space easement (i.e., the preservation of existing land forms).  But many properties may already have such facilities, and therefore such events might be appropriate.  For example, in the case of the Rodgers property, they indicate the property already has “existing structures and improvements to easily accommodate the shows,” to include utilities, entrance and access road, fencing, a competition riding ring with announcer/judge stands, stables and office registration facilities. Under its current classification as Outdoor Recreation, Equestrian Events require approval of a special exception; the proposed text amendment would maintain the Special Exception requirement, and this process would allow evaluation of events on a case-by-case basis and the Board could consider, as part of this review, the extent to which the proposed facilities would be contrary to the broader goals of non-common open space.  As part of the text amendments, the standards for Equestrian facilities now contained in Section 5-900 of the Ordinance, under outdoor recreation are shifted to Section 5-1800, under Agriculture.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

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

Agricultural Development Office

Land Owners

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