Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Terrence L. Nyhous,
Center District Supervisor

                                        September 11, 2008

Staff Lead:


Andrew B. Hushour,
Assistant Zoning Administrator 

Community Development



A Resolution Initiation of a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Ameliorate Article 8, Signs, of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance


Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment seeks to amend and revise Article 8, Signs, of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance in its entirety.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

For purposes of good zoning practice, convenience, and general welfare, consider approval of the attached resolution. This request to initiate the above described zoning ordinance text amendment will be transmitted to the Planning Commission for development, public hearing and eventual recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for action.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Staff Report:

Over the past several years, an increasing number of individuals and businesses have raised concerns about perceived limitations and inconsistencies in the existing sign regulations contained in Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance. The issues raised to staff have been very broad in nature, ranging from topics such as the amount, type and location of signage allowed in a given zoning district, to clarification regarding the existing regulations for items such as temporary signs and political signs. In the past year alone, the Board of Supervisors has approved several text amendments to modify the existing regulations under specific circumstances. Most recently, at the July 10, 2008 regularly scheduled meeting, the Board initiated the latest revision to Article 8, an amendment that proposes to allow subdivision signs in a limited manner in public rights-of-way; this amendment is currently in the Planning Commission Public Hearing process.

Staff is in agreement that the existing Ordinance regulations regarding signs would benefit from an update since the current regulations were generally adopted in 1981, with certain portions dating back to the 1970’s. As with any business industry, recent innovations and trends in sign design have seen the proliferation of digital media displays, such as the use of light emitting diodes (LED) signs, and more frequent use of outdoor advertising on large vehicles that are parked in commercial areas or in public rights-of-way. Each new sign type that comes into use has prompted the County to either amend Article 8 to accommodate these changes or resulted in an increase of enforcement actions that encumber valuable County resources. From an enforcement perspective, staff has identified several provisions in Article 8 that would benefit from revision, thereby freeing up staff time to focus on other priorities.

One of the stated goals of the Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan is to sustain and enhance the quality of life its citizens. As a means to this end, County policies and regulations should encourage a high quality of life through design standards that are sensitive to existing development scale, culture and natural environments. Accordingly, one of the ten policy and action strategies identified in Chapter 11, Community Design Guidelines, is to promote various design elements, such as signage, that complement the scale and character of existing and planned development in the County. Another stated goal of the Plan is to encourage economic development which will result in a net tax benefit, create needed job opportunities, and support other adopted goals. In the context of a discussion on signage, it would appear that these goals are in disagreement. However, staff believes that a new sign ordinance could be drafted in which these goals are mutually compatible.

For all of these reasons, staff believes it is appropriate at this time to consider an amendment and revision of Article 8. The process would consider the Article in its entirety, evaluating and proposing new text language for all aspects of signs. Given the complexity and level of interest in issues relating to signs, revising this portion of the Zoning Ordinance is likely to be a lengthy and challenging task, and it is typical for a jurisdiction to spend a considerable amount of time in sign regulation updates given their scope. This initiation proposes no specific language for the text amendment, but rather is the first step in initiating staff’s study of the issue. In the interest of fairness and representing all perspectives of such a complex land use topic, it may be beneficial to form a committee consisting of business owners, property owners, and sign industry professionals to assist in amending the document. Staff will take the necessary steps to form such a committee if the Board deems this to be an appropriate course of action.

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

Fauquier County Citizens
Fauquier County Business Owners
Department of Economic Development, Fauquier County
Department of Community Development, Fauquier County
Virginia Department of Transportation

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