Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Fauquier County School Board (Owner)

Fauquier County Public Schools (Applicant)


October 8, 2009


Staff Lead:
Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development


Magisterial District:
Cedar Run 



A Resolution to Approve Southeastern Alternative School SPEX10-CR-004 – Category 5 Special Exception to Allow for the Construction of an Additional Building for School Use


Topic Description: 

The Fauquier County School Board is seeking to add a small permanent building at the Southeastern Alternative School campus, located on Route 28 just south of the Village of Calverton and adjacent to the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.  The existing alternative school has 100 students, and the proposed building would add 30 students to this essential educational program. 

It is the School Board’s objective to open the added classrooms for the upcoming second semester at the end of January 2010.  The engineered building requires three applications: Special Exception, Minor Site Plan (assuming a building area and disturbance less than 10,000 square feet), and Building Permit (building plan, review, inspections); plus, the requisite zoning and occupancy permits.   In order to meet their desired timeline, expeditious processing of the applications is necessary.

Department and School Board staffs are currently coordinating process details, as well as concurrent review of the minor site and building plans.  Construction is targeted to commence in the late October/early November timeframe.

The Health Department has confirmed that the existing septic/drainfield system is adequate and can accommodate the school expansion from 100 to 130 students.

Project Background:

This project requests construction of an approximately 1,800 square foot building to house two classrooms and a restroom.  The building is intended to serve a new program for middle school students.  It will enroll approximately 30 middle school students.   The separate facility is requested for the middle school program because the developmental needs of middle school students differ from that of high school students.  For this reason, middle school students are separated from high school students in the regular education setting and such separation is important in the alternative setting as well.

The existing building was constructed in 1963.  It is 17,754 square feet, and was designed to serve an enrollment of 240 students.  In January 1979, it became the kindergarten center/annex for Pearson Elementary School.  In 1990, it was converted from school to offices, housing Student Services, Special Education and various other school operating functions.  In 1994, the School Board approved use of this facility as a high school alternative program, which opened in 1995 as Southeastern Alternative School (SAS).  A Special Exception for this use was not required when the original school was built.  The granting of this Special Exception memorializes the school use for the whole site.

The new structure will be approximately 26 feet by 70 feet in size, a single story building with engineered wall panels, floors, and roof trusses constructed on slab with a masonry exterior.  The architecture and color of the structure will blend in with the existing building. 

The school division currently operates an alternative middle school program at the Central Office Complex next to the Warrenton Community Center.  This program has enabled the division to offer middle school students who are suspended short-term with an option other than staying at home.  Moving the program to SAS offers significant benefits also by serving students with long-term suspensions and providing more comprehensive academic instruction. 


Land Area, Location and Zoning:  

The property is located at 4484 Catlett Road (Route 28).  It is zoned Residential-1 (R-1) and located within the Village of Calverton.  A map of the property is shown below with the parcel highlighted in red.                          



Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:

The subject property is bounded by R-1 parcels on all sides.  Some parcels are split zoned and contain Rural Agricultural (RA) designation as well.  Surrounding properties are generally in residential or agricultural use.

Special Exception Analysis:

The school use is compatible at this location and has met the provisions set forth for all Special Exceptions in Chapter 5 of the Zoning Ordinance.  Section 5-001.1 states “There are certain uses which, by their nature, can have an undue impact upon or be incompatible with other uses of land within a given district.  These uses as described may be allowed to locate within certain designated districts under the controls, limitations and regulations of an administrative permit, special permit, or special exception.”  Further Section 5-006.1 says:

5-006                             General Standards for Special Permits and Special Exception Uses

In addition to the special standards set forth hereinafter for specific uses, all special permit and special exception uses shall also satisfy the following general standards:

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.

 This application is in accord with Section 5-006.

Category 5: Section 5-500 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the following standards for this Special Exception:

PART 5                                   5-500               CATEGORY 5 EDUCATIONAL USES

In addition to the general standards set forth in Section 006 above, the following standards shall apply:

5-501                           Standards for All Category 5 Uses

All off-street parking and loading areas, swimming pools and tennis courts and similar facilities shall be effectively screened and shall not be located in any required yard in all Residential and Rural District.

Information for the applicant for the Site Plan phase.

5-502                           Additional Standards for All Category 5 Uses Other than Pre-School/Day Care Center/Nursery School

1.      No structure used for or in conjunction with the use shall be located within 100 feet of any adjoining property which is in a Residential or Rural District, except where such use proposes to utilize an existing structure and the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Zoning Appeals find that the lesser setback will not cause an undue impact on adjoining properties because of the specific characteristics of the proposed school or adjoining property.

Proposed new building meets the setback standards. Previously existing facilities that were approved with the original building site plan, in accord with the regulations at that time, may remain in place.

2.      The site shall have minimum road frontage, as required for the site's zoning district, on a road designated as a major collector in the Comprehensive Plan, unless the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Zoning Appeals find that the type and amount of traffic generated by the facility is such that it will not cause an undue impact on the neighbors or adversely affect safety of road usage.

The site is located on Route 28 which is designated a Major Collector in the Comprehensive Plan.  The site was also designed to accommodate 240 students and staff and is not utilizing its maximum design capacity.

3.      All off-street parking and loading spaces, swimming pools and tennis courts and similar facilities shall be effectively screened and shall not be located in any required yard in all Residential and Rural Districts.

Information for the applicant for the Site Plan phase.

5-504                           Additional Standards for Primary School, Secondary/Advanced Schools and Technical Schools (Indoor)

1.   In addition to complying with the minimum lot size requirements of the zoning district in which located, the minimum lot area for a private school of general education shall be of such size that:

A.  200 square feet of usable outdoor recreation area shall be provided for each child in grades kindergarten through three(3) that may use the space at any one time, and

B.  430 square feet of usable outdoor recreation area shall be provided for each child in grades four (4) through twelve (12) that may use the space at any one time.  Such usable outdoor recreation shall be delineated on a plat submitted at the time the application is filed.  For the purpose of this provision, usable outdoor recreation area shall be limited in the same manner as paragraph 503.1.

Adequate recreation space has been provided. 

2.   All outdoor recreation areas shall be fully fenced, unless waived by the Board with approval of a Special Exception.

The Board may wish to waive the fencing requirement for the recreation area.

3.   The following standards shall apply to primary and secondary/advanced schools in residential zoning districts:

A.    Minimum lot size shall be 5 acres.

The site meets this standard.

B.     All exterior lighting shall be designed and installed so that all direct rays are confined to the site and adjacent properties are protected from glare.

Information for the applicant for the Site Plan phase.


Staff Analysis 

Staff and the appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the

Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are available upon request.


No comment.


The Warrenton Residency staff reviewed the above referenced Special Exception and has no comments.


The school was originally approved by site plan in 1962 and was constructed in 1963 as Southeastern Elementary School. Since the time of its construction, the site has transitioned through several educational uses into its current use as Southeastern Alternative School, which commenced in 1995. At one point, the school was converted to office use for school operating functions and; therefore, a Special Exception was required with the conversion in use to the alternative school for high school students. This application will serve to properly approve the high school as well the middle school use on the site.

1.      The following Zoning Ordinance standards are applicable:

a.       5-006, General Standards;

b.      5-501, Standards for All Category 5 Uses;

c.       5-502, Additional Standards for All Category 5 Uses Other than Pre-School/Day Care Center/Nursery School;

d.      5-504, Additional Standards for Primary School, Secondary/Advanced Schools and Technical Schools (Indoor).

2.      Zoning Staff defers to Planning Staff the assessment of standard compliance but would note that there is existing parking that does not meet the standard of 5-501 requiring that all off-street parking and loading areas not be located in any required yard in the R-1 Zoning District. These seven spaces and the location of what appears to be a blue dumpster are located to the front of the existing school building approximately 12’-15’ from the northeastern property line. However, since this parking was provided as part of the original site plan and built accordingly, it is allowed to remain with no further encroachment allowed in any required yard.

3.      A new Site Plan is required per Z.O. Section 3-305.2 for the use. While the location of existing buildings and infrastructure on the site is pre-existing, stemming from the original site plan approved in 1962 and built accordingly, the site will be required to meet current Ordinance requirements pertaining to the number of parking spaces and landscaping proximate to the new building.

a.       Landscaping can be reviewed at the time of site plan submittal. It is unclear how much existing vegetation is on the property along the northwest property line. Additional landscaping in the area of the new building may be required as part of the site plan in order to meet current Ordinance requirements.

b.      It appears that several parking spaces towards the northern corner of the lot have been removed, resulting in a total of 26 spaces available on-site; sufficient for the 23 employees but not for the provision of 4 spaces for visitors for the middle school students (Zoning Ordinance Section 7-106.16) and one (1) space per eight (8) high school students based on the maximum number of students attending classes at any one time (which would be 75, requiring 10 spaces). (Zoning Ordinance Section 7-106.17)

As part of the site plan, a modification from the Zoning Ordinance parking standards seems appropriate in this case since the nature of the alternative school differs from regular high schools in that all students will be transported to the school by bus. As part of the site plan process, the Applicant will be required to submit an application for a parking modification. (Zoning Ordinance Section 7-102.18)

Planning Commission Summary and Action of September 24, 2009:

On September 24, 2009 the Planning Commission held a work session and conducted a public hearing on the proposed Special Exception.  No members of the public spoke at the hearing.

The Planning Commission forwarded a unanimous recommendation of approval, subject to a series of Special Exception conditions, to the Board of Supervisors.

 Summary and Recommendations:

Staff asks the Board of Supervisors to consider the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation of approval.  The additional building at the site will provide for much needed classroom space for Southeastern Alternative School.

The Board may also wish to consider granting approval of a waiver of Zoning Ordinance Section 5-504.2 that says:

All outdoor recreation areas shall be fully fenced, unless waived by the Board with approval of a Special Exception.

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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

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

Department of Community Development
Virginia Department of Health
Fauquier County Schools Division


1.         Special Exception Plat

2.         Statement of Justification


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