Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Gramm Real Estate Investments, LLC (Owner)
Safford Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge of Warrenton (Applicant)

September 11, 2008

Staff Lead:


Holly Meade, Senior Planner

Community Development


Magisterial District:   Center                                                                           PIN: 6995-10-1846-000 

Service District: Warrenton



A Resolution to Approve a Special Exception Request (SPEX08-CT-026) for Additional Signage for an Automobile Dealership 


Topic Description:

The applicant is requesting Special Exception approval allowing additional signage for an existing automobile dealership in accord with a recently approved Zoning Ordinance text amendment.  On June 12, 2008, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved a text amendment allowing signage in Commercial and Industrial areas to be increased by not more than one hundred percent (100%) with Special Exception approval after consideration of certain findings.   

Safford Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge of Warrenton is requesting Special Exception approval for approximately 150 square feet of signage above their by-right limit.  Signage in the amount of 150 square feet is allowed for this use without triggering requirements for a Special Exception; this 100% increase can be sought with the recent text amendment.  There is currently 114 square feet in signage on the building, facing Cedar Run Drive (Attachment 3).  The applicant claims in order to get people to shop there, they need signs visible from Route 29.  The applicant has provided photographs of their location with the current square footage in place, stating the signs are barely readable from Route 29.  The application package includes drawings of the requested signage as it would appear on the existing building.   

The applicant is requesting signs along the northwest side (Attachment 2, building elevation) that are similar to the Cedar Run Drive frontage.  The applicant is proposing a much larger “Safford” sign, and fairly similar sized “Jeep”, “Chrysler” and “Dodge” signs on the northwest side facing Route 29.  The applicant is also proposing a “Safford” sign on the rear of the building which is the southwest side of Route 29.  As a guide, the large “Safford” sign (56 square feet or 4’ x 14’) being proposed is similar in size to the white Safford banner currently hanging on the rear of the building.  The applicant is requesting an additional 180.5 square feet over the 119 square feet already on the building, which equates to a Special Exception request of 144.5 square feet of additional signage.

Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:  

The property is located at 7308 Cedar Run Drive, behind Outback, and zoned Commercial – Highway (C-2), and is the site of an automobile dealership.   

Zoning Map


Surrounding Zoning and Current Land Use: 

Property to the north, east, and west are all zoned C-2 and contain a variety of commercial land uses.  Property to the south is zoned Residential (R-1) and is the location of the Cedar Run Subdivision.  

Comprehensive Plan/Land Use:  

The property is located within the Warrenton Service District and has a designation in the Comprehensive Plan as Commercial Highway.  The Comprehensive Plan states “a legacy of spot commercial zoning on the south side of Route 15/29 to the northeast of Warrenton has permitted the development of a very successful commercial strip.  However, poor to dangerous traffic access creates considerable roadside friction for patrons and through travelers.” 

Land Use Map 


Special Exception Analysis:  

Article 5-006, General Standards 

General standards seek to ensure that the requested use does not adversely affect neighboring properties. This proposal does not appear to negatively impact neighboring properties in that proposed signage is adjacent to other areas planned for Commercial Highway in the Warrenton Service District Plan.  Adjacent sites to the north and west where signs are proposed are all sites of existing businesses.  If approved, the signs would not be visible from the adjoining residential subdivision to the south.  There is a large strand of mature trees providing a buffer between the dealership and the adjoining Cedar Run Subdivision. 

Article 8-1502, Special Exceptions and Permits (Regarding Signage in Commercial and Industrial Zones) 

The following are required to be considered by the Board in order to grant this Special Exception, provided that the total permitted sign area shall not be increased by more than one hundred percent (100%) and that the total area for any one sign shall not exceed the allowable limits already set forth in Section 8-1501 for particular permitted sign types:  

1.         The nature of the proposed use, including such factors as whether the use is a destination or one that relies more on drive-by visibility; and 

The use is an automobile dealership which relies partially on drive-by visibility.  

2.         The character of the existing area and the impact on the visual appearance of adjacent and nearby properties and rights-of-way, particularly entrances to the County from the interstate highways or surrounding jurisdictions, and the major streets leading from those entrances; and 

                    The existing area contains a variety of commercial uses, including two other automobile  

                    dealerships, a convenience store and a restaurant.  The property fronts on Cedar Run

                   Drive, approximately 300 feet from Route 29/15.  Cedar Run Drive is classified as a local

                   collector and Route 15/29 a major thoroughfare.  If approved, the signs would not be

                   visible from the adjoining residential subdivision to the south.  There is a large strand of

                   mature trees providing a buffer between the dealership and the adjoining Cedar Run  


3.      Whether a unique situation exists, causing a need that is not recurring in nature; and 

There does not appear to be a unique situation associated with this request. 

4.      The area’s designation in the County’s Comprehensive Plan; and 

The area is designated as Commercial Highway in the County’s Comprehensive Plan. 

5.         The existence of a special visual obstruction or difficulty in locating the use, making the application of the general provisions of this section too restrictive. 

There does not appear to be any visual obstruction; however, the car dealership does sit approximately 300 feet off Route 29 atop a steep incline.   

Staff and Review Agency Comments:   

Zoning Office 

  • The Applicant currently has 114 square feet in signage. Signage in the amount of 150 square feet is allowed for this use without triggering requirements for a Special Exception; leaving the Applicant only 36 square feet of additional signage without a Special Exception. With a Special Exception permit, the Applicant could ask for an increase for up to 300 square feet of total signage subject to the provisions of Zoning Ordinance Section 8-1502. The Applicant is proposing an increase to 294.5 square feet with this Special Exception application, making the required amount of square footage for the Special Exception 144.5 square feet.

In Commercial and Industrial Zones, there is no total maximum square footage established for all of the building mounted signs on a particular site (Zoning Ordinance Section 8-1501.3.A). Therefore, since the additional proposed signs are all building mounted signs, the additional 180.5 square feet of signage would be allowable under Zoning Ordinance Section 8-1502. 


Planning Commission Action: 

On July 31, 2008, the Planning Commission voted three to one to recommend denial of the Special Exception request.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution or alternate resolution.

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

Commissioner of the Revenue
Department of Economic Development 



1.                  Statement of Justification

2.                  Elevational Drawings showing Northwest and Southwest elevations

3.                  Photographs of site

4.                  List of Requested Signage


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