Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Fauquier County Planning Commission

August 19, 2002

Staff Lead:


Frederick P.D. Carr, Director

Community Development


This proposed Zoning Ordinance text amendment would increase the required front yard setback requirements for certain properties within service districts and within rural zoning districts.  Properties zoned residential and lying within service districts boundaries would have the required front yard increased to 150 feet, measured from the centerline of the road or pair of lanes, if they have frontage along roads classified as arterials and freeways in the Comprehensive Plan or on Route 215. This also would be true for parcels in rural zoning districts that front on these roads.

The current minimum front yard requirements vary with the particular zoning district and the Comprehensive Planís classification of the particular road.  The Residential-2, Residential-3, Residential-4 and Village Zoning Districts now require a minimum 80-foot required front yard for parcels fronting on a major thoroughfare.  The minimum front yard for the Residential-1 Zoning District is 90 feet fronting a major thoroughfare, while the Rural Zoning Districts require a 105-foot setback requirement. The required front yard is measured from the centerline of a road (or the centerline of the nearer set of lanes in the case a road has more than two lanes).

Staff proposes to require a minimum 150-foot setback, as measured from the centerline of arterials and freeways (or the centerline of the nearer set of lanes in the case a road has more than two lanes), for parcels in the service districts and rural zoning districts fronting on specified roads. The affected roads would be Routes 17, 28, 29, 50, 211 and 245.  Staff recommends Route 215 also be included due to the continued commercial and residential redevelopment of Vint Hill and future traffic considerations associated with the construction of the Brookside subdivision.

The increased distance would provide insulation for new dwelling units from the roads for traffic noise or future road-widening projects, and will create an increased safety buffer in the case of a large-scale accident.  Properties zoned as commercial, industrial and village would not be affected by the text amendment.

The Fauquier County Planning Commission held a public hearing on July 25, 2002, and voted to forward this proposed text amendment with a recommendation for approval.

The Planning Commission voted, at its February 28, 2002, meeting, to initiate a text amendment following a Virginia Department of Transportation request to change the measurement of the required front yard from the centerline of the road to the property line.  The Planning Commission held a public hearing on March 28, 2002, on the original VDOT proposal and voted to table the matter for 60 days for additional study.  Community Development staff then requested an additional 30 days to discuss several options after County legal staff pointed out several issues.  The current refined version is more restrictive than the original proposal, so the July 25, 2002, public hearing became necessary.


Staff examined the original VDOT proposal and found simply changing the measurement point from the centerline of the street to the property line would create several problems.  If additional adjustments were not made to the required front yard distances, a large number of non-conforming lots and buildings would be created, making routine additions or new construction difficult or impossible without receiving a variance from the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals. Designating the property line as the measurement point also could make certain lots unbuildable, even in recently approved subdivisions, because those lots were designed using the current required front yard distances.

Even in the refined form, the proposed text amendment will create nonconformities on some parcels of record along the specified roads.  New construction or renovations on those parcels may require variance approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals before work can proceed.

County legal staff also pointed out issues presented by dedicated rights-of-way and proscriptive easements if the measurement point was changed to the property line.  Some proscriptive easements run through interior portions of parcels, so measurement from the property line could mean the building restriction line might fall within the roadbed or within a few feet of the travel way. 

VDOT staff members cited the Lake Whippoorwill subdivision near the intersection of Routes 605 and 15-29 to support their request.  The later phases of that subdivision are accessed via interior streets, but some of the lots also back up to the right-of-way bordering the northbound lanes of Routes 15-29.  The Zoning Ordinance treats these lots as having a double front yard because they have frontage on two roads (the internal street and Routes 15-29).  For structures in the Residential-1 Zoning District, the current required setback from a major thoroughfare such as Route 29 is 90 feet from the nearer set of lanes.  VDOT personnel pointed out a major thoroughfare may have a right-of-way of 110 to 160 feet, so a structure may be 90 feet from the centerline of the road (in an R-1 Zoning District) and be located just outside of the right-of-way boundary.

The refined version being presented for public hearing will provide a buffer between the traffic traveling Fauquier Countyís major roads and new residences and accessory structures.  The Commercial, Industrial and Village Zoning Districts would not be affected by this proposal.

If the Board of Supervisors wishes to approve the proposed Zoning Ordinance text amendment, an Ordinance of approval is included as Attachment 1

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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

Financial Impacts Analysis:


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

Department of Community Development

Virginia Department of Transportation

Attachment:    1.  Ordinance for approval