Background Information. For many years, Fauquier
County permitted family dwelling units as accessory
structures on a lot. In August of 2005, the Board of
Supervisors initiated a text amendment to liberalize the
restrictions on such units. This amendment was at the
request and for the benefit of Lee Smith, who wanted to
build a family home for one of his children and family. The
Board of Supervisors’ proposed text amendment, as initiated:
(1) increased the size of the second home from 1,200 square
feet to 1,600 square feet; (2) allowed the owner to occupy
the smaller second house while permitting a close family
member to reside in the principal structure; (3) removed the
current occupancy cap (3 people) for use of the second home;
(4) eliminated the prohibition on charging rent for the
second unit during the first two years (an owner may want or
need to charge his family member rent); and (5) extended the
period in which immediate family must occupy the second
house from two to five years.
Commission held a work session on this issue on September
27, 2005 and public hearings on August 25, 2005 and
September 29, 2005. By a vote of 4 – 1, the Planning
Commission recommended approval of a significantly different
amendment. The Planning Commission was concerned with the
Board of Supervisors’ proposed increase in size of the house
to 1,600 square feet. It believed that a second home should
clearly be subordinate to the existing home. Accordingly,
the Planning Commission recommended that the size of the
accessory family dwelling be limited as follows: “Such a
shall contain no more than 1200 square feet
of gross floor area. may be 600 square feet in gross
floor area or 25 % of the gross floor area of the existing
house, which ever is larger, but in no circumstance may the
family dwelling unit exceed 1,200 square feet of gross floor
area.” The Planning Commission also was concerned that
there was no criteria for controlling occupancy totals
within the family dwelling unit. It recommended that the
occupancy be increased to four. Finally, the Planning
Commission believed that family occupancy should be similar
to family subdivisions and have a ten year holding period
before it could be used as a third party rental unit.
The Board of
Supervisors rejected the Planning Commission’s
recommendation as to size and occupancy limits. It adopted
a maximum size of 1,400 square feet and increased permitted
occupancy to five. The Board of Supervisors concurred with
the ten year holding period by close relatives. The Smiths
opted not to take advantage of the new ordinance; rather,
they kept their permit alive under the prior law.
Proposed Text Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance.
This proposed text amendment by the Smiths raises the square
footage of a family dwelling unit from 1,400 square feet to
1,600 square feet, redefines what is included in calculating
the gross floor area, expands the number of occupants
allowed in a family dwelling unit (from five to no limit),
and changes the required time for family usage from ten to
two years. The square footage and capacity limits are the
same as those originally initiated by the Board of
Comparative Analyses of Other Jurisdictional Requirements.
For comparison, staff surveyed the conditions imposed by
other counties on second dwellings. Among the jurisdictions
surveyed, Fauquier County is the most liberal regarding size
limits a second dwelling to 1,200 total square feet of
combined living and storage space. Storage space shall
include basements, garages, crawl spaces of five feet or
greater in height and attic spaces not constructed of
trusses with a pitch of nine to twelve (9:12) or greater.
Carports are excluded from storage space calculation unless
it is planned to close in the same at a later date; if
excluded, then carports may not be enclosed later. Such use
may be in a separate building constructed specifically for
the use. Further, excluding renovation of existing
structures, no such family apartment shall be more than 200
feet from the main residence, except upon a written finding
by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), to be recorded in the
permit, that exceptional topographic conditions exist on the
site (or that a negative impact on adjacent properties may
be mitigated), such that varying this limit shall not act to
the detriment of the public interest, upon which finding the
BZA may grant such separation as it deems appropriate. No
family apartment shall utilize a separate entrance to the
property unless such entrance is already in existence. For
apartments to be constructed in existing accessory
buildings, the amount of living space shall be no more than
1,000 square feet and the limitation on enclosed
utility/storage/accessory space shall not apply. In no case
shall accessory space be converted to residential occupancy,
and the BZA is empowered to impose such conditions as will
render such conversion unlikely, including but not limited
to floor plans, means of ingress/egress, etc. The apartment
may not be rented to anyone other than a family member for a
period of two years following completion thereof. There
shall be no more than one family apartment per separate
parcel of land.
does not allow second dwellings for full time residents.
Only guest houses are permitted.
dwellings, unrestricted to family members – anyone may
occupy. However, rent is prohibited except rent paid by
family member occupants. Only one accessory dwelling per lot
is allowed and the accessory dwelling can be no larger than
twenty-five percent of the gross floor area of the principal
structure. If this rule applied in Fauquier County, the
Smiths would be allowed an accessory dwelling of
approximately 600 square feet.
dwellings. Such dwellings are restricted to twenty-five
percent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling.
Attached apartments may be the larger of thirty percent of
the gross floor area or one thousand square feet.
allows accessory guest
cottages of six hundred square feet. The house may be no
more than three hundred feet from the principal dwelling.
They may be rented.
only allows accessory
dwellings when the parcel is large enough to be divided into
two lots. The structure must meet the same requirements
(set backs, well and septic, etc.) as the principal
only allows accessory
dwellings in cases of medical emergencies. A special permit
may be issued for six months and reauthorized for up to two
years. Continuation after two years requires a variance.
Note that Fauquier County also
permits, by right, efficiency apartments. Under the Zoning
Ordinance, efficiency apartments are subject to the
following standards: 1. Such a unit shall not be
occupied by more than two persons; 2. Not more than one such
unit shall be located on a lot; 3. Such a unit shall contain
no more than 600 square feet of gross floor area or 25% of
the total gross floor area of the dwelling, whichever is
greater; 4. Such a unit shall be located only on the same
lot as the residence of the owner of the lot; and 5.
Architectural features of such a unit shall conform with the
single family character of the neighborhood (e.g., no
additional front doors).
County also permits quarters for a caretaker, watchman, or
tenant farmer but only in the rural districts at a density
not to exceed one unit per fifty acres. These houses are
unrestricted as to size and occupancy.
promote this amendment as a means of alleviating a housing
crisis in Fauquier County. The fair market rental for a
two-bedroom unit in Fauquier County is $1,225, and the
annual income required to make this unit affordable as
prepared by the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission
Workforce Housing Working Group reports that in 2004, the
median housing sales price in Fauquier County was $347,000.
The income required, per the report, to purchase a house at
that price was $80,000. Based on this analysis, 95% of the
full-time permanent employees of Fauquier County General
Government, at FY 2007 salary levels, cannot afford (based
on their individual salaries) to purchase a home in Fauquier
County at the 2004 median housing sales price. In May of
2006, the Fauquier Democrat reported that the average home
price in Fauquier County is now $508,000.
housing units are recognized as a way of alleviating a
shortage of affordable housing, not only for the renter but
also for the owner who now has supplemental income to apply
against rising mortgage, insurance, and tax costs. A plus
side of this method (using second dwellings for rental
units), as opposed to proffers or other means of securing
affordable units, is that the program is free of government
monitoring and bureaucratic control. It is market driven.
The process runs itself.
proposal and its impact on the development of more family
dwelling units is questionable. Twenty-three were built in
2004. Fourteen were built in 2005, while fourteen have
currently been constructed in 2006.
of Supervisors may want to consider dropping the requirement
that such second units be for family members.
Certainly, there are childless couples who would want the
benefit of renting to a person or young couple for myriad
reasons. At present, childless couples can build efficiency
apartments that can be even larger than family dwelling
units. These apartments, however, are limited to two
individuals and must be in the principal house.
proposed text amendment was initiated by the Smiths. A
copy of their transmittal
letter is attached. On July 27, 2006, the Planning
Commission conducted a work session on the proposed
amendment. A public hearing also was held on July 27,
2006. After closing the Public Hearing, the Planning
Commission voted to conduct a second work session on August
31, 2006. During the work session, the Planning Commission
separately discussed each of the Smiths’ amendments to
determine if there was any consensus or majority on any
item. On each item, the Planning Commission found they
could not support the changes. Members of the Planning
Commission did note that affordable housing is an issue that
warrants their attention but felt that this was not the
vehicle for addressing that issue. At its regular 4:00 p.m.
meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to