Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Fresta Valley Christian School, Ltd.


October 11, 2007


Staff Lead:
Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development


Magisterial District:


6956-25-6041-000 & 6956-1534-000


Fresta Valley Christian School: SEAM07-MA-008 An Amendment to a Previously Approved Category 5 Special Exception to Allow for Construction of a Multi-purpose Facility and Additional Parking; and to Increase the Student Population by 100


Topic Description: 

SEAM-MA-008: The applicant wishes to amend a previously approved Category 5 Special Exception to allow for construction of an addition to its school building.  The proposed building addition totals ±22,355 square feet.  The structure will include a multi-purpose gymnasium room, additional storage areas, new bathrooms, new library, and three (3) to four (4) classrooms or offices and additional parking.  The school also requests to increase its total student enrollment by 100 (for a grand total of 400 students).

Project Information:

The applicable Zoning Ordinance Standards for this application are:

·                     5-006, General Standards for All Special Exceptions

·                     5-501, Standards for all Category 5 Uses

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

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

In 1981, the Board of Supervisors approved a Special Exception for a private school and limited attendance to 175 students.  The Special Exception was amended in 1986 to remove the limitation on the number of students able to attend the school and to allow an addition to the school.  Although a limitation of 300 students was debated, the final approval action removed any student enrollment limitation.  There is currently no cap on student enrollment.  In 1996, the Applicant obtained a Special Exception for a place of worship in an existing building.  No expansion of building area has occurred since 1986.

Fresta Valley is a non-residency kindergarten, primary and secondary school that has been educating children in Fauquier County for 30 years.  Present enrollment is 300 students.  Normal school hours are 8:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., September to June.  The applicant states that it seeks to expand its facilities as its current space has become overcrowded.  The new facility will afford two incongruent uses, for instance a band class and napping first graders, to be separated by sufficient distance.  Further, the school believes that this addition will further its mission of providing quality education to children, and allow it to better serve the community.

The school campus is comprised of approximately 25 acres (in two parcels) of rolling and partially wooded land.  The buildings and athletic fields are screened by the woods, and therefore, not visible from the road.  The Statement of Justification notes that efforts will be made to save and preserve the existing vegetation and additional evergreen screening will be planted to replace trees lost during construction and to meet Zoning Ordinance requirements.  This screening will preserve the rural character of the surrounding properties and protect their views.  The new addition is proposed to be attached to the existing building on its northern end.  Although the new building is proposed to be 35 feet tall, the roof addition will be within a few feet of the elevation of the top of the roof of the existing building as it will be built into the natural slope of the hillside.  The addition will be approximately 250 feet from the road and approximately 220 feet from the nearest property line.

The applicant states that school buses transport half of its students (current population of 300) to the site.  The remainder are transported by parents.  During a Planning Commission informational work session, the applicant also stated that secondary school students are not allowed to drive to campus.

Fresta Valley Christian School (FVCS) completed an inventory of student enrollment for the last 7 years and found that approximately 70% of its student enrollment is from Fauquier County.  The other 30% come from the following counties: Clark, Culpeper, Loudoun, Orange, Prince William, Rappahannock, Stafford, and Warren.

The applicant has conducted an informal traffic study this school year and presents the following background information and findings:

·        Over the last 4 years, 44% of the students have used bus transportation.

·        Over the last 4 years 17% of students were teachers’ children – this means that they arrive at the school between 7 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. with staff.

·        Over the last 4 years 39% of students were car riders – many of these families have developed car pools in which they transport several children in their car at once.  These students arrive between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.

·        The applicant notes there is an average of approximately 50 cars between 7:55 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. coming to school.  Of those 50 cars, about 13 (or 25%) of them represent families that live on or right off Wilson Road and would be traveling Wilson Road whether their child attended FVCS or not.

·        Thus, the applicant indicates that, if the student body is increased by 100 students, that it would anticipate 44% of the new enrollment would ride the bus.  (This would account for 44 students.)

·        17% of the new enrollment would be teachers’ children.  (This would account for 17 students.)

·        The remaining 39% would be car riders, which would equate to an estimated increase of 17 vehicles traveling on Wilson Road, assuming students continue to carpool as they do today.


Land Area, Location and Zoning:  

The property is located approximately seven (7) miles west of Warrenton on the west side of Wilson Road (Route 738).  It is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).




Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:
The property is bounded by Rural Agricultural (RA) zoned parcels.


Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:
Conduct a public hearing on the proposed Special Exception and consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Planning Commission Recommendation:
On August 30, 2007 the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of this Special Exception Amendment, subject to a series of development conditions.


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.  The majority of referral agencies had no issues with the proposed use of this existing facility.

Findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are available upon request.  Following each comment, in italics, is the note to clarify how each comment has been addressed.

Soil Scientist

Reviewing the Fauquier County Soil Survey, the site is mainly made up of two soil map units, 25C and 25D.  The map units can have rock outcrops, steep slopes (15- 25%), and the bedrock tends to be shallow which may require blasting to achieve the desired grade.  Due to these site constraints it is rated marginal to poor for development using conventional septic tanks and drainfields.  

(Informational comment.)

Zoning Office

1.      It remains unclear whether the approximately 300 student enrollment will remain stable or whether new enrollment will be increased upon completion of the new building. It appears that, since the new building is anticipated to hold an additional 100 students, based on previously submitted information, that enrollment could increase to approximately 400 students.

(Enrollment now subject to a condition.)

2.      It is still unclear whether the usable recreation area available meets the requirements of Zoning Ordinance Section 5-504.1. The current submission does not address this issue.

(Recreation area now subject to a condition with details to be shown on Site Plan.)

3.      Staff notes that several elements included in the plans in 1982, 1987, and/or 1996 are missing from this submission. Therefore, the use may be in violation of previous approval conditions. The drawings must accurately reflect what is currently on-site and what is proposed.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

4.      The Special Exception Site Layout Plan shows the approximately 9,000 square foot recreation area previously shown for grades 1 through 3 but no information is given regarding the number of students in the 1st to 3rd grade category.

(Recreation area now subject to a condition.)

5.      The recreation areas previously shown on the 1982, 1987, and/or the 1996 plan sheets do not show up on any of the three sheets associated with the June, 2007 drawings.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

6.      Landscaping shown on the 1982, 1987, and/or the 1996 plan sheets is not clearly reflected in the latest drawings. If the landscaping is not installed, then the use is in violation of the conditions of previous approvals.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

7.      Since existing parking spaces are not delineated on the Existing Conditions Plan, it is unclear how many parking spaces are being added or reorganized. Please clarify.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

8.      All requirements of the zoning ordinance must be addressed in the Statement of Intent and on the Special Exception Plan.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

9.      A new Major Site Plan is required per Zoning Ordinance Sections 3-305.2, 3-305.3, 12-201 and 12-500 for the uses since new physical changes to the property are proposed that will require 10,000 square feet or more of land disturbance.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)


The Engineering Department has reviewed the reference plan.  Based on the information received, the department has the following comments:


1.      Ensure the Site Plan conforms to the Zoning Ordinance.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

2.      Provide information to determine if there are jurisdictional wetlands on site.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

3.      LID stormwater measures may be very appropriate for this very tight and steep site. Please consider LID as, at least, a partial solution to the stormwater management problem.


4.      The concept grading plan indicates most of the area to be disturbed by the project will drain to the existing pond and receiving stream. State stormwater management regulations require treatment of stormwater as well as erosion and sedimentation control.

(To be shown on Site Plan.)

5.      Consider the impact that the increased student enrollment capability will have on traffic within the site as well as at entrances onto public highways.

(Considered as part of the overall application.)

6.      Consider the impact that increased enrollment will have on existing water supply and fire protection systems.

(Subject to a condition.)

7.      Evaluate on-site soil types in view of steep slopes and erosion potential

(To be shown on Site Plan.)


The Warrenton Residency staff reviewed the above referenced special exception dated July 31, 2007.  The trip generation rates provided do not appear to be from the current edition of the ITE Manual which indicates 822 trips for a Private School with 50 employees.  This generates a 150 foot taper, but it appears the existing 75 foot deceleration and 75 foot taper are adequate.

(VDOT is satisfied with the existing entrance and property frontage conditions.)

Issues Identified by Members of the Public

Members of the public have contacted staff and county officials (in-person, by telephone, and e-mail) to express both support and opposition for this application.  A number of concerns have been raised and are included below.  Most of these concerns were expressed at the Planning Commission public hearing. 

Some adjacent property owners have indicated that they are not in any way opposed to Fresta Valley Christian School, but that it is not a good idea for the school to be located at this particular site on Wilson Road.  Further they have indicated that Wilson Road is a dangerous road due to its long and winding configuration and amount of traffic (including motorcycles and bicycles).  Neighbors also voiced concern about congestion at the Fresta Valley entrance and speeding vehicles running late to school and have suggested that Fauquier County consider requesting further study of the traffic situation that currently exists on Wilson Road before adding more vehicles to what they say is an already unsafe situation.

Summary and Recommendations:

All review agency comments have been dealt with by conditions or will be addressed at Site Plan.  The Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve this application with 30 conditions.  (These are included in the resolution.)  The conditions, among other things, limit the number of students to 400, number of employees, and hours of operation.  These conditions restrict the development so that it will not adversely affect neighboring properties


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

Fauquier County Department of Community Development
Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Department


1.            Statement of Justification

2.            Health Department Approval Letter

3.            Special Exception Plat


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