Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission


November 8, 2007

Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator


Community Development



An Ordinance Amending Zoning Ordinance Sections 8-1301.3 and 8-1620.C Related to Removal of Signs in the Right-Of-Way


Topic Description:

This proposed text amendment seeks to remove the requirement that notice be sent to owners after signs are removed from the right-of-way by the Zoning Administrator or her authorized representative.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report:


The Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance authorizes the Zoning Administrator or her representative to remove signs that have been posted in the County’s right-of-ways.  Under the existing language of the Zoning Ordinance, when a sign is pulled, notice must be sent to each sign owner (if identifiable) and that the signs must be held for at least 30 days to allow the owner to claim the sign, with a small fee ($5 plus $1 each day the sign was held).

In 2005, the County entered into an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation authorizing staff to pull the signs from the right-of-way, and since that time, at the Board of Supervisors’ direction, Zoning staff has proactively enforced this provision of the Zoning Ordinance by conducting periodic sweeps to remove signs.  In the two years that staff has been pulling signs and sending notices, only 6 signs have been claimed by owners after notice was sent.

The Zoning Ordinance requirement to send notice to sign owners adds significantly to the amount of staff time required for the enforcement action in order to log each sign as it is pulled, research addresses for sign owners, and then prepare and send the notice. 

Because the notice process is costly both in terms of staff time and postage, with little or no value to either sign owners or the County, this amendment seeks to remove the requirement that notice be sent to owners of signs that are pulled.  In addition, in 2007 the Board of Supervisors funded a Litter Control Program to be developed and maintained by the Office of Adult Court Services. The program utilizes court ordered community service workers to combat the ongoing problem with litter in the county.  Zoning staff is coordinating with Adult Court Services staff to utilize this program to pull signs from the right-of-ways where litter is being collected.  This will significantly increase the frequency and effectiveness of sign removal efforts on right-of-ways, but utilizing this resource creates a logistical problem related to notice.  When Zoning Staff pulls signs, each sign is listed in a log with its identification information and location, providing the basis for sending notice.  It would be burdensome for the litter control workers to take on this additional task.  As an interim measure, Zoning Staff will be sorting through the signs collected each week by the Litter Control workers, creating the log after-the-fact so that notice can be sent in compliance with existing regulations.  In addition, with more signs being pulled because the litter control group works 3 days a week, significant additional staff time will be necessary to a) sort through the pile of signs and identify information for notice and b) prepare the additional volume of notices.     

There is no legal requirement that notice be sent to owners regarding the violations, but if the County wishes to pursue zoning enforcement/legal action against the sign owners, notice of violation is required.   Staff would envision that written notice would continue to be sent to the select group of entities that are repeat violators, so that legal action can be pursued if necessary for enforcement.    

Staff would further note that VDOT routinely removes or “runs over” signs in the right-of-way when doing maintenance, with no notice given to sign owners.   

If the Board of Supervisors would like to preserve the opportunity for owners to retrieve their signs, an alternative approach would be for the County to hold the signs for 30 days without providing individual notice.  This would allow anyone who wanted to retrieve a sign that was removed to contact the County and retrieve the sign within 30 days, while still eliminating the cost and time associated with providing individual notice in every case.

The text of the proposed revision is attached.  Staff would note that the same language is repeated twice within the Ordinance, once in the general section on signs and once in the special section on signs for planned development.

The Planning Commission initiated the proposed amendment on August 30, 2007. After holding a public hearing on the item on September 27, 2007, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval.


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

Entities placing signs in the right-of-way.


Proposed Revisions to the Zoning Ordinance

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