Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

R. Holder Trumbo, Jr., Vice-Chairman,
Scott District Supervisor


October 9, 2008

Staff Lead:


Andrew B. Hushour,
Assistant Zoning Administrator


                               Community Development


A Resolution Initiating a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 5-1812 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance Regarding Farmerís Markets


Topic Description: 

The proposed text amendment seeks to modify the existing provisions found in Section 5-1812 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow proprietors of farmerís markets to reside off-site with approval of a Special Exception.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Consider adoption of the attached resolution.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Staff Report:

The Zoning Ordinance defines a farmers market as ďthe use of any tract of land in a rural zoning district for the retail sales of agriculture products, horticultural products, aquicultural products and handmade crafts.Ē As noted in the definition, a farmerís market is allowed only in the Rural Agricultural District (RA) with approval of a Category 18 Special Permit. The current Ordinance regulations distinguishes between a farmerís market that offers agricultural products for sale that are largely produced on-site or locally within Fauquier County, and a community farmerís market, which offers agricultural products for sale that are largely produced off-site but within the Commonwealth of Virginia. For a farmerís market, the minimum lot size requirement is five (5) acres and the proprietor of the business must reside on-site or on an adjacent parcel. For a community farmerís market the minimum lot size requirement is much more onerous, at one hundred (100) acres but there is no residency requirement for the proprietor of the business, which is similar to standard commercial retail practices. Therefore, in order to allow farmerís markets that offer the sale of locally produced agricultural products to operate on lots where the proprietor does not reside on the business site, an ordinance amendment is necessary. The purpose of this proposed amendment is to allow such flexibility while protecting the rural character of areas zoned to the RA District and continuing to minimize the further encroachment of commercial activity into such areas.

Pursuant to the current regulations, an applicant seeking to operate a farmerís market to sell locally produced agricultural products but who does not reside on the subject property would be required to apply for the community farmerís market designation.  Although the primary activity associated with both market designations is the sale of agricultural and homemade goods, a community farmerís market is a much more intensive commercial use and is primarily a retail operation by virtue of the provision that allows all of the products offered for sale to be produced off-site by other parties with no requirement that any of the products be produced locally. In addition, the maximum building size of 6,500 square feet is also significantly larger, and therefore more impacting, than the 2,500 square feet maximum allowed for a farmerís market. For these reasons, a farmerís market is much more in keeping with the rural character of the RA District and the sale of locally produced agricultural products, whether grown on a farmerís market site or on another site, supports economic development within the County.

In considering an amendment to address this issue, staff has carefully reviewed the requirements for both designations and has proposed changes to the farmerís market use that will provide the desired flexibility while maintaining the intent of the original text language to minimize commercial activity in rural areas. As identified in the proposed text amendment,  staff is recommending that the residence requirement for proprietors of farmerís markets found in Section 5-1812.7 be waived by the Board of Supervisors subject to the approval of a Special Exception. By requiring the Special Exception, the Board will have the authority to determine whether the operation of a farmerís market in this capacity is compatible with the existing or planned use of the area in which it is proposed. It is staffís position that although the lack of a residency requirement for a farmerís market is more akin to a community farmerís market and would obviously preclude the sale of agricultural goods that are grown on-site, this is off-set by the regulations already in place that limit a proprietor to sell only those appropriate products that are locally produced within Fauquier County. Therefore, while more non-traditional farmerís markets could be approved under this new provision, the intent to promote locally produced products is retained.


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

Department of Economic Development

Back to Agenda...