Owner/Applicant:                                          Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Margaret A. Hufnagel, Owner                                                             August 18, 2003
Landmark Property Development, LLC,

Staff Lead:                                                                                            Department:

Robert C. Counts                                                                   Community Development

Magisterial District: Center                                                                          PIN(s):

Service District: Warrenton                                                         6995-21-1875-000


Resolutions to Approve SE03-C-32 and SE03-C-33: Respectively, a Category 20 Special Exception to Allow the Construction of a Community Wastewater Treatment and Disposal System, and a Category 30 Special Exception to Waive the Requirement of Providing Public Sewer to a Subdivision, Margaret A. Hufnagel, Owner, Landmark Property Development, LLC, Applicant.

Topic Description:

The Applicant has proposed the rezoning of 64.29 acres from Residential District (R-1) to Planned Residential Development District (PRD). The proposed rezoning would yield 64 residential building lots. The current by-right development of the site would, subject to adequate well and septic sites, yield no more than 57 building lots. The proposed planned development is dependent upon central water and sewer facilities. The property will be served by the WSA water system, but the Town of Warrenton has declined to provide sewer service. Rather than develop on individual drainfields, the Applicant is requesting Special Exceptions that will allow the construction of a community wastewater treatment system.

The Planning Commission has recommended approval of the proposed rezoning; however, this approval is dependent upon the Applicant obtaining either public sewer or approval of the requested Special Exceptions. If the Board approves the Special Exceptions, the Applicant’s rezoning request will be scheduled for Board of Supervisors’ consideration at its September meeting.

Land Area, Location, Zoning and Neighboring Land Use:

As shown on the following map, the subject property is located at the southeast quadrant of the Route 29 and Route 605 intersection. The property is surrounded by residential development, predominantly by R-1 zoned neighborhoods such as Millwood, Ashley Meadows, and Lake Whippoorwill . It is bordered on the southwest by property zoned for Highway Commercial (C-2) use (e.g. Rick Hunt Ford and Dodge). Site access for the proposed development is located directly across Route 605 from the P.B. Smith Elementary School .

Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:

The Board of Supervisors is requested to conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolutions to approve SE03-C-32 and SE03-C-33.

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. Staff and referral agency findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below.  

The Comprehensive Plan

The subject property is located in the Warrenton Service District and is currently planned and zoned for low-density residential development. The current R-1 zoning would allow the by-right development of up to 57 residential lots. The Applicant estimates that with site constraints, the parcel would yield approximately 50 residential lots if developed as a conventional subdivision.

The Applicant proposes to use PRD zoning to develop at slightly higher than the current zoning density. The proposal would cluster 64 building lots to the rear of the property, away from the frontage on Route 29. This approach was chosen to accommodate both a preferred smaller lot urban-style design and the provision of several proffered public amenities including:

  • Donation of approximately one-third of the entire site for use as publicly owned open space (± 20.2 acres).
  • Preservation of the existing “landmark pond” included in the public open space.
  • Preservation and donation of the existing home circa 1910-1919.
  • Preservation of trees surrounding the existing home.
  • Preservation of tree-lined drive.
  • Retention of approximately 50% open space.
  • Integration of open space areas via a trails system that would be open to the public.

The proposed plan is responsive to the input provided by the Citizen Planning Committee for the Warrenton Service District Plan Update.

Requirements of the Zoning Ordinance

The Applicant has requested a Category 30 Special Exception to waive the requirement of public sewer. Generally, the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance requires the use of public sewer and public water in the development of subdivisions of more than 25 lots or units. The proposed Raymond Farm development contains 64 units. It will be served by public water from the WSA system, 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 denied 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.

Section 5-3000 of the Zoning Ordinance provides for a waiver of this requirement in cases where the proposed subdivision lots are to be served by a private central sewer system, and the Applicant has demonstrated that:

  1. The site characteristics are such that all necessary health department and other governmental approvals can be obtained.
  2. The development will not degrade groundwater resources or impair any watershed.

c.       The Applicant has sufficient financial resources and a business plan to ensure the successful operation of the system for a period of at least ten years, and that the system will be deeded to an entity with all the necessary authority and easements to operate the system in perpetuity.

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

The Applicant is also seeking a Special Exception pursuant to Section 5-2000 to construct a community wastewater treatment and disposal 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. 

The Zoning Ordinance allows for a private sewage treatment system for new construction for Commercial or Industrial uses outside of service districts provided that the system is operated under the control of the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority, or a Class III wastewater operator which holds a current permit licensed in the State of Virginia. In approving such a system, the Board may establish conditions including, but not limited to, use, maintenance, and testing.

Currently, the Ordinance is silent on the specific conditions for approving private sewer treatment systems to be located in residential districts within service districts. In the absence of specific criteria, this application was evaluated against the general standards for Special Exceptions contained in Section 5-006:

  1. The proposed use shall be such that it will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties. It shall be in accordance with the applicable zoning district regulations and the applicable provisions of the adopted Comprehensive Plan. The location, size and height of buildings, structures, walls and fences, and the nature and extent of screening, buffering and landscaping shall be such that the use will not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.
  2. The proposed use shall be such that pedestrian and vehicular traffic generated will not be hazardous or conflict with the existing and anticipated traffic in the neighborhood and on the streets serving the site.
  3. In addition to the standards which may be set forth in this Article for a particular category or use, the BZA and Board may require landscaping, screening, yard requirements or other limitations found to be necessary and appropriate to the proposed use and location.
  4. Open space shall be provided in an amount at least equal to that specified for the zoning district in which the proposed use is located.
  5. Adequate utility, drainage, parking, loading and other necessary facilities to serve the proposed use shall be provided. Parking and loading requirements shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.
  6. Signs shall be regulated by the provisions of Article 8, except as may be qualified in the Parts that follow for a particular category or use. However, the BZA and the Board, under the authority presented in Section 5-007 may impose more strict standards for a given use than those set forth in this Ordinance.
  7. The future impact of a proposed use will be considered and addressed in establishing a time limit on the permit, if deemed appropriate. Existing and recent development, current zoning and the Comprehensive Plan shall be among the factors used in assessing the future impact of the proposed use and whether reconsideration of the permit after a stated period of time would be necessary and appropriate for the protection of properties in the vicinity and to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Plan.
  8. The proposed use shall be such that air quality, surface and groundwater quality and quantity, are not degraded or depleted to an extent that would hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.
  9. Except as provided in this Article, all uses shall comply with the lot size, bulk regulations, and performance standards of the zoning district in which located.

Engineering Considerations

The Engineering Division has reviewed the Applicant’s requests and has made a number of observations:

  1. A minimum separation of 100 feet is required between a wet pond and a drainfield.
  2. It appears that part of the “Tree Save Area” shown on the Special Exception Plat (and previously on the Applicant’s rezoning plat) will have to be removed for the designated drainfield area to be fully utilized. The need to remove trees may be in conflict with the proffers associated with a still-pending rezoning application.
  3. In the type of system proposed, many of the drainfield installations are at relatively shallow depths and could be damaged by some activities. The drainfield area shown on the Special Exception Plat is in an area to be dedicated to the County for park use. This drainfield area should be owned, or at least controlled, by the operator of the sewage treatment plant to assure compatibility of use.
  4. Prior to final approval for plant operation, maintenance and monitoring schedules and reporting should be provided. This should include provisions for power outages and remote alarms and response to malfunctions.
  5. Prior to final approval for construction, the Applicant must demonstrate sufficient financial resources and a business plan to ensure the successful operation of the system for a period of at least ten years, and that the system will be deeded to an entity with necessary authority and site control to operate the system in perpetuity.
  6. The sewage treatment facility must be approved by the Virginia Department of Health and other pertinent agencies prior to final site plan approval.


The County Soil Scientist has reviewed the proposed use and found that, overall, the soil in the proposed disposal sites are very good (53C). There are, however, some colluvial soils that may be of concern at the construction approval stage. Soils such as 415 B can have a perched water table during wet seasons of the year. Additional information from the Applicant’s soil scientist is needed to determine the extent of this 415 B mapping unit in the actual disposal sites. This information must be provided prior to final site plan approval.

Summary and Recommendation:

SE03-C-32: Community Wastewater Treatment And Disposal System

The development of this property using public sewer is the stated first preference of the Applicant. Staff recommends that the Applicant continue to pursue that avenue of development. The Planning Commission also strongly favors the use of public sewer and has recommended denial of this Special Exception for reasons outlined in their recommend Resolution of Denial (Attachment 4). However, should further attempts to obtain public sewer fail, and the Board of Supervisors choose to approve the Special Exception for a community wastewater system, the Planning Commission recommends that such approval be subject to the following conditions:

  1. The system shall be designed and built to WSA standards.
  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 WSA. During this period, the operation will be conducted in conformance with WSA standards.
  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 and will be operated by WSA.
  6. Prior to site plan submittal for the private sewage treatment facility approved hereby, the Applicant shall:
    1. File an application with the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, for the proposed private sewage system.
    2. Conduct a preliminary meeting with the Health Department and/or DEQ, as appropriate, to determine basic design parameters acceptable to the Department.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Submit a design to dispose of sewage effluent, and calculate nitrate loading, ponding and disposal means in accordance with State and local health codes.
    6. 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.      The County or WSA shall establish and maintain a reserve fund for future capital replacement of the system or connection to an alternative system to serve this development. The Applicant has offered an initial cash contribution to this fund of $20,000. The operating fees assessed to system users shall include a portion to be set aside for this fund, in addition to the fee that recaptures the costs of operating and maintaining the system. These fees shall commence as each dwelling connects to the system. The Planning Commission recommends a more substantial contribution by the Applicant.

SE03-C-33: Waiver of Public Sewer Requirement

The Applicant has made every effort to obtain public sewer for this development, and has stated no objection to transferring the proposed community wastewater system to public ownership.  However, the requested waiver of public sewer requirements would allow development using either the proposed community system or conventional drainfields. Staff has suggested a condition of public ownership for the community system. However, given the current uncertainty associated with public ownership of community systems of this type, to deny the Applicant’s request for a waiver of the public sewer requirement would also preclude the use of conventional drainfields and would unreasonably restrict development options on the site. The Planning Commission recommends approval of SE03-C-33.


  1. Applicant’s Statement of Justification
  2. Special Exception Plat
  3. Approval Resolution SE03-C-32
  4. Denial Resolution SE03-C-32
  5. Approval Resolution SE03-C-33