Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Al-Mara Farm, Inc.  (Owner)

 Jeff & Patricia Ann Leonard (Applicants)


August 16, 2004


Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning



Community Development


Magisterial District:


Cedar Run







A Resolution to Approve SPEX04-CR-023 A Category 9 Special Exception to Allow for the Renewal of a Previously Approved Request to Hold Class C Events and Approval for Class B Events


Topic Description: 


The purpose of the Category 9 Special Exception renewal is to allow the applicants to continue holding Class C events and to add limited Class B events which would allow for overnight encampments.  The applicants have a previously approved Special Exception SE01-CR-12, dated August 20, 2001 for the Class C events.  Now, the applicants request the renewal of that permit and a new Special Exception to allow for outside events, farm tours and encampments throughout the year.  Staff notes that the second parcel, 7900-44-7085-000 is no longer part of this application.


The applicant has requested 100-150 campers per event.  This number reflects what is feasible both for the size of the property as well as what is operationally viable for the applicants.  It should be made clear that the applicants do not seek to have 5,000 attendees at any event.  Instead, they seek to request a limited number of attendees for encampments only.  The Class C events for all other activities will remain in place.  The property has adequate space for tent camping for youth groups, as proposed.  Staff also notes that both Special Exception requests pertain only to PIN 7900-64-8311-000.


Key Zoning Ordinance standards for this request are as follows:


  1. Class B events allow no more than 12 events per year and shall have less than 5,000 cumulative attendees per event.  No class B event shall be more than 3 days in length.  An excess of 12 events per year shall require a Special Permit.  Pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance, sites eligible for Class B events shall be a minimum of 100 acres with a minimum of 500 feet of road frontage on a major collector.


  1. Class C events allow for a maximum of 1,000 cumulative attendees per event.  Sites eligible for Class C events shall contain a minimum of 50 acres and have a minimum of 300 feet of frontage on a major collector.  For both Class B & C events, if the activity has more than the designated maximum number of attendees, or exceeds three (3) days in length, a Special Permit will be required.  Additionally, the Board of Supervisors may approve a Special Exception for a site that does not meet the lot or frontage requirements, upon a finding that less restrictive standards do not negatively impact any other general or specific standard contained in Article 5 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance.


Project History:


Al-Mara Farm, Inc. is a family owned and operated Dairy and Crop Farm located in Midland.  The family has owned the property where the main dairy is located since the 1930s.  The property was rezoned in the 1980s to General Industrial (I-2) and Residential (R-1).  Thus, the continued agricultural use is grandfathered as a legal non-conforming use. 


Through the years the family farming operation has expanded to include 300 dairy cows and an 1800-acre crop operation.  In 2001, to continue to progress and remain viable in the county, the applicants applied for and were granted a Special Exception to allow for farm tours and events.  These special events are operated by JAPAL, LLC, a limited liability company owned and operated by the applicants.  This renewal request seeks to allow for continued operation of the special events and farm tours with the addition of encampments.  The encampments would allow for limited overnight special events for organizations like, but not limited to, boy scouts or girl scouts.


The applicants offer group farm tours by appointment only, as well as weekend tours for the general public.  The agricultural tourism venture provided offers a unique experience for recreation and entertainment to the public via a glimpse into the daily operations of a working dairy farm and other agriculturally themed special events.  During events, related agricultural items may be sold and limited refreshments are available.  The special events provide an additional income source for the farm to help sustain the traditional agricultural operation, which is the primary business for the applicants.


The target audience for events is families, school children, daycare center groups, youth organizations and clubs.  All proposed events will meet the standards of Article 5 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance for Class B and Class C events, as well as Health Department standards.  The events are operated by family members, five of whom live on the farm, as well as five part-time employees.  Staffing is based on the number of tours scheduled or on anticipated attendance.  The applicants manage and operate both the farm and the special events. 


Under the applicants’ management, the farm was awarded the 1999 Conservation Farmer Award and the 2002 Bay Friendly Clean Water Farm from the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District.  The applicants are also active in the community and serve on various boards such as the Fauquier Country Farm Bureau, Culpeper Farmers Cooperative, Fauquier County Fair Board and 4-H.


Vehicles enter the farm off Germantown Road and park in the designated parking area (a three to five-acre grass field).  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) approved the entrance in 2001.  According to the applicants, the traffic impact of the special events has been minimal since over half of the groups that visit during the week arrive in busses or large passenger vans.  Other organizations that visit often carpool.  The hours of operation for weekend events or festivals allow for the traffic to be staggered.  The busiest weekend to date had about 200 participants.  There was an estimated 60 vehicles (120 in/out trips) throughout the 13-hour event day.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


Hold a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Financial Impact Analysis:




Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property is located on the southeast side of Catlett Road (Route 28) and is near the intersection with Germantown Road (Route 649).  The main property, PIN 7900-64-8311-000, is zoned Industrial General (I-2) and Residential (R-1).  The property has continually supported agricultural uses since the 1930s.  A map of the property is shown below.




Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:


The property is bound to the north by I-2 and Residential (R-1); to the south by Industrial Park (I-1) and I-2; to the east by I-1 and I-2; and to the west by Commercial (C-3) and R-1.


Planning Commission Recommendation:


After conducting a public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended unanimously that the Board of Supervisors approve SPEX04-CR-023 for renewal of Class C events and new Class B events.


Staff Analysis:


Summary and Recommendations:


Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors consider this item for approval.  In detail, the recommendation is for: 1) renewal of the original Special Exception SE01-CR-12, for Class C events, including the original conditions; and 2) approval of a new Special Exception SPEX04-CR-023 to allow for Class B events limited to encampments of up to 150 people.  The encampments would be limited to twelve events per calendar year, each event lasting no more than three days, per the Zoning Ordinance standards.  Any events beyond that number would require an approved Board of Zoning Appeals Special Permit for each subsequent encampment. 


The applicants are committed to enhancing Fauquier County by providing a rare and continued educational opportunity for the public.  The agricultural tourism venture that they provide offers a unique experience for recreation and entertainment to the public via a glimpse into the daily operations of a working dairy farm and other agriculturally themed special events.  It also provides an additional income source for the farm to help sustain the traditional agricultural operation which is the primary business for the applicants.


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

  1. Fauquier County Department of Community Development
  2. Virginia Department of Transportation
  3. Virginia Department of Health




  1. Special Exception Plat
  2. Statement of Justification