Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Fresta Valley Christian School, Ltd.


November 8, 2007


Staff Lead:
Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development


Magisterial District:




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


A Resolution to Approve 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: 

SEAM07-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 and to limit its total student enrollment to 400.  (There is currently no cap on enrollment).

Project Update:

On October 11, 2007, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and numerous speakers were heard on this item.  The hearing was closed and action postponed for 30 days in order to work out refinements to the Special Exception conditions.  The applicant, its representative, staff and Supervisor Atherton held a meeting to address the issues identified at the hearing.  The applicant worked diligently with staff to accomplish requested tasks.

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 7:00 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:

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.

All previous referral agency comments have been addressed.  No new comments were received since the October 11, 2007 public hearing.  Detailed comments were included in the October 11, 2007 staff report.

Issues Identified by Members of the Public

Members of the public have contacted staff and county officials (in-person, by telephone, e-mail, and public hearings) to express both support and opposition for this application.  Conditions have been created to address the concerns that have been raised.  The issues are identified below and the conditions to address them are presented in the resolution.

·         Clarify how bus service is implemented for additional students.

·         Provide additional buffer for all new buildings from surrounding properties.

·         Outline hours of operation for the multi-purpose building to address neighbors’ reasonable concerns about the unlimited and unspecified use of this facility.

·         Develop noise abatement conditions.  For example: There will be no outside band practice.

In addition to the aforementioned items addressed as conditions, Supervisor Atherton suggested that the applicants write a letter to the file noting that there is no intent to expand the student enrollment beyond the current proposed expansion to 400 students and that the applicants consider a mediation meeting to improve community relations between Fresta Valley and opponents.

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.  (Included in the resolution.)  The conditions, among other things, limit the number of students to 400, and limit the number of employees, and hours of operation.  These conditions restrict the development so that it will not adversely affect neighboring properties.  Subsequent to the Board of Supervisors public hearing and additional meetings, the conditions have been further refined to reflect public input.


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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