Owner/Applicant:                                                              Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Donald R. Tharpe Trust                                                                                      November 18, 2002

Staff Lead:                                                                                                                 Department:

Elizabeth A. Cook                                                                                    Community Development




The applicant is proposing a PDMU (Planned Development Mixed Use District) for 83 acres of an 85-acre parcel currently zoned RA (Rural Agriculture).  As proposed, the mixed-use development would combine residential, office-related commercial, and community uses.  Over time, the applicant has proposed various options for consideration; however, at the October Planning Commission meeting the applicant indicated that he wanted the original submission to be considered.  That original conceptual plan identifies the following components:

  • Two, 1-acre commercial pad sites along Route 17.
  • ±15 acres for a “ Neighborhood Center ” with:
    • 75,000 square feet of retail use and
    • 40,000 square feet of office space
  • 1-acre park feature with a “heritage society” structure and associated parking lots
  • 5-acre “multi-cultural worship center” with a 400-seat sanctuary and educational and daycare facilities
  • 44 acres of the site designated for a mixture of residential uses, with 90 total lots proposed including:
    • 25 townhouse lots (5,000-8,000 sq. ft.)
    • 25 “mid-level” lots (10,000-15,000 sq. ft.)
    • 40 “estate” lots (20,000 sq. ft. and up) 
  • ±17 acres of open space, including:
    • 6-acre linear “greenbelt” park and a
    • 11-acre park area with a recreational pavilion along the unnamed tributary of Marsh Run 

The Concept Development Plan (CDP) indicates the main Route 17 entrance to the development is proposed at Independence Avenue , which is owned by the School Board.  The School Board has not agreed to allow the use of Independence Avenue as a public street.  Staff has requested that the applicant propose an alternative entrance design, consistent with the original citizen recommendation for the draft Bealeton Service District Plan.  That proposed plan provides for a common entrance at Independence Avenue with a new street designed to access the development and limit the mix of school and Great Marsh traffic.  While the applicant provided such a road design during discussions with staff, VDOT, the School Administration, and Kellerco, this option has not been provided as an official submission.


The Planned Development Mixed Use District (PDMU) allows, during the rezoning process, an opportunity to modify development standards.  These modifications require applicant justification, subject to specific criteria, for Board of Supervisors consideration and action.  As a result of this provision, the applicant has proposed several modifications.

The applicant indicates the proposed modifications within the application "…will enable the Great Marsh PDMU to provide alternative development options that are more consistent with the design characteristics of older, traditional patterns of development, and traditional design norms as expressed by the Bealeton, Opal & Remington Citizen Committee in their Proposed Bealeton, Opal & Remington Service District Plan which is currently under the consideration of the Planning Commission."  Following is a brief summary of the proposed modifications, which include the creation, for this PDMU, new lot designations:

  1. The applicant proposes to modify the R-4 conventional district bulk regulations to permit a variety of lot types:
    1. "Estate" lots would range in size from 7,200 to 10,500 square feet, rather than the minimum of 10,000 square feet, with the following restrictions:

                                                               i.      Width 75+ feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of a minimum of 70 feet

                                                             ii.      Depth 140+ feet

                                                            iii.      Front setback 10 to 15 feet from property line rather than 50 feet from centerline of the road

                                                           iv.      Front porch setback 8 to 10 feet

                                                             v.      Rear yard setback 5 feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of a minimum of 10 feet

                                                           vi.      Side yard setback 15 feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of a minimum of 10 feet

                                                          vii.      Sidewalk and planting strip between right-of-way and property line 8 to 12 feet

    1. "Village Homes" would range in size from 7,200 to 10,500 square feet with the following restrictions:

                                                               i.      Width 60 to 75 feet

                                                             ii.      Depth 120 to 140 feet

                                                            iii.      Front setback 5 to 8 feet

                                                           iv.      Front porch setback 8 to 10 feet

                                                             v.      Rear setback 5 feet

                                                           vi.      Side setback 10 feet

                                                          vii.      Sidewalk and planting strip between right-of-way and property line 8 to 12 feet

    1. "Cottage Homes" would be 4,400 to 6,000 square feet with the following bulk regulations:

                                                               i.      Width 40 to 50 feet

                                                             ii.      Depth 110 to 120 feet

                                                            iii.      Front setback 5 to 8 feet from property line

                                                           iv.      Front porch setback 8 to 10 feet

                                                             v.      Rear 5 feet

                                                           vi.      Side yard of 7.5 feet

                                                          vii.      Sidewalk and planting strip between right-of-way and property line 8 to 12 feet

    1. Detached "Townhouse" lots would range in size from 3,300 to 4,800 square feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of 5,000 square feet minimum for detached R-4 cluster lots, with the following standards:

                                                               i.      Width 30 to 40 feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement for a minimum of 50 feet

                                                             ii.      Depth 110 to 120 feet

                                                            iii.      Front yard 5 feet

                                                           iv.      Rear 5 feet

                                                             v.      Side yard 0 feet side and 7.5 feet on the other side, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement for a total of 12 feet with a minimum side yard of 5 feet

                                                           vi.      Sidewalk and planting strip between right-of-way and property line 8 to 12 feet

    1. Attached "Rowhouse" lots would range in size from 2,200 to 3,000 square feet compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of 1,800 square feet minimum for townhouses, with the following standards:

                                                               i.      Width 20 to 25 feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance with no minimum

                                                             ii.      Depth 110 to 120 feet

                                                            iii.      Front yard 5 feet or 15 feet setback if there is parking directly in front of the buildings

                                                           iv.      Rear 5 feet, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of a minimum of 15 feet

                                                             v.      Side 5 feet for end units, compared to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of a minimum of 15 feet

                                                           vi.      Sidewalk and planting strip between right-of-way and property line 8 to 12 feet

                                                          vii.      Maximum of 10 attached units in a row, rather than 8 units in a row per the Zoning Ordinance

  1. Building height 50 feet maximum, rather than 35 feet
  2. Alleys with the following dimensions:
    1. 16 to 18 feet of R-O-W, Subdivision Ordinance requires a minimum of 20 feet
    2. 12-foot paved travelway, compared to 15-foot minimum
    3. 5-foot setback, compared to 10 feet
  3. Waive requirement for submittal of street classifications and right-of-way requirements for proposed streets.  Included in this modification request appears to be the implied modification to develop street standards with pavement widths, curb radius, curb type, and various types of parking, walkways, and street plantings.  Without some specificity, staff would not be in a position to determine whether these modifications would be acceptable to VDOT as public streets.  The applicant will need to provide detailed specifications and proposed alternative street design locations for review.
  4. Waiver of the conceptual landscape and buffering plans.

Staff does have concerns about some of the proposed modifications.  There is a concern about the proposed zero (0) lot lines for the detached "Townhouse" lots.  This condition appears to create maintenance issues for future homeowners by limited access to one side of their homes.  Also of concern are the proposed modifications related to alleys and alternative street standards.  It is not clear from the applicant's submission that all internal public streets proposed would be eligible for acceptance by VDOT into the State System of Highways.

Proffer Analysis:

The applicant's proposed proffers are chiefly based on Option B, for 225 dwelling units, which the applicant now does not wish to be considered.  The applicant's representative indicated with the latest submission that the proffers will need revision to address the specific development option recommended.  To date, the applicant has not amended any portion of the application or the proffer statement to address the 90 single-family residential unit submission (Option A).  Staff has noted several areas where fine-tuning will be needed, as well as the major flaw that the proffers address a 225 residential option, not the applicant selected 90 unit option.  The following is a summary of key components of the PDMU, as proffered.

As proposed in the currently filed proffers, the development would be in two phases, with Phase I including 135 residential units and Phase II 90 residential units.  The commercial component of the PDMU may contain up to 72,000 square feet of commercial use, with the following potential uses deleted by proffer:

  • Duplex dwellings;
  • Schools:
    • Preschool,
    • Primary,
    • Secondary/Advanced, and
    • Technical (indoor);
  • Eating Establishment, Fast Food;
  • Gas/Service Station; and
  • Spectator/Non-Spectator Field Events (Class C).

All of the proposed single-family lots abutting the outside boundary of the PDMU will have a 20-foot open space buffer between the PDMU lots and adjacent existing residential lots.  The buffer will be kept in a natural or improved natural state.  The proffers also state that the buffers may be dedicated to Fauquier County for part of a public trail system.  If this buffer area is to be available for a future public trail system, staff would recommend that it not be located within individual lots and provision be made for the buffer to be part of the open space area to be owned and maintained by the PDMU homeowners association until such time as it may be dedicated to the County.  The County would expect the developer to design and construct the referenced trail system.

It appears the applicant has agreed to voluntarily offer monetary contributions to help offset the proposed development impacts to schools and fire and rescue services.  However, several refinements are needed to the proffer statement, if it is the applicant's intention to make monetary contributions to mitigate its impacts to schools, fire and rescue services, and traffic.  The language and timing of the referenced proffer contributions are unacceptable.  For example, as currently stated, the applicant offers to make contributions with the last unit for each phase of development rather than the first or at the seventh unit as proposed by the adopted Fauquier County Proffer Policy.  As a result of the Proffer Policy, contributions would start voluntarily after the sixth by-right lot allowed with the existing RA (Rural Agriculture) zoning.

For comparison purposes, the table below reflects what staff believes the applicant intended to propose as proffers, compared to the County's Proffer Policy, adopted by the Board of Supervisors on October 21, 2002 .  This chart may need to be revised based on the applicant's clarification of the proposed proffers.  










Great Marsh Phase I

$3,500 @ 135th units*



$50 per Phase I lot @ 135th***






Great Marsh Phase II

$3,500 @ 90th unit*



$50 per Phase II lot @ 90th***





Proffer Policy (P.P.)

$11,890 @ 7th unit or 219 units

$730 X 219 units

$303 X 219 units

$1,363 X 219 units

$389 X 219

To be based on TIA

$179 X 219 units



Great Marsh






+$15,423 = $26,673




$   924,173

P. P. Total






Varies based on TIA



*    Proffers provide that for each single-family occupancy permit after issuance of the 135th occupancy permit in Phase I of the PDMU, the PDMU will make a cash contribution of $3,500 for school capital facilities.  Literally read means no contributions as Phase I is for 135 units.  Similar language used for Phase II.

**   The applicant proposed that the 20-foot buffer area located within the lots that abut the adjoining non-PDMU residential property might be available for a future public trail system; however, no monetary value has been placed on the possible future dedication.  In addition, the proffers provide for the applicant to construct and dedicate to VDOT or the County a pedestrian only system of sidewalks and trails as indicated on the CDP.  They will vary in width from 5-foot sidewalks to 10-foot paths/trails adjacent to greenways.  At this time, no monetary value has been assigned to the dedication.  Proffers indicate that the homeowners' documents may provide opportunities for Fauquier County residents and other organizations to utilize the recreational facilities at Great Marsh PDMU for a fee.

*** Again, this proffer is worded like the school proffer, so applicant's intention is not clear.  With Option B only, the applicant is making a 2-acre dedication for a public use site.  The proffers indicate the value to be $300,000.  Staff would use the assessed value of the property prior to rezoning to establish a value for this dedication, consistent with the Board of Supervisors Proffer Policy.

****The applicant has proffered internal road improvements that do not appear to be beyond the normal development costs of any future residential subdivision, so in staff's analysis these proffers do not represent a mitigation of development impacts.  We have included the traffic signal at Independence Avenue and Route 17 proffered with Options A and B.  With Option C, the applicant moves the traffic signal 600 feet north of the Independence Avenue/Route 17 intersection to a new intersection with a new street and Route 17.  With this option, the applicant also proffers a crossover at this new intersection.  It appears this proposed intersection would not meet minimum separation distance from Independence Avenue .  In addition, the applicant has included as a proffer $35,050 in expenditures related to traffic impact analysis required by the Fauquier County Department of Community Development. 


The key issues to the proposed PDMU always return to the traffic impacts of the development.  The applicant's transportation consultant has met with VDOT to discuss fine-tuning the original transportation analysis to address the outstanding issues from that original report.  As of the writing of this report, neither VDOT nor Kellerco have received a revised traffic study.  Until that revision is received it is difficult for VDOT, the Board of Supervisors, and the School Board to assess the proposed PDMU's impacts on the existing transportation infrastructure.

PDMU districts are to be located in areas that have sufficient infrastructure to support the proposed districts.  This infrastructure should either be in place or be applicant provided.  The applicant appears to be proffering internal streets that would be necessary only for the development; therefore, their costs do not mitigate project impacts of the development on the surrounding community.  The proffered signal at Independence Avenue and Route 17 would help to lessen some impacts of the development; however, the applicant has not fully mitigated the traffic impacts of the proposed development. 

With the revised study submitted for the 225-residential unit option, VDOT indicated that the project traffic growth for this area would exceed safe carrying capacity based on current traffic volumes, as well as forecasted trips from land already zoned and planned for development.  At that time, VDOT asked for additional time to further view its position.  Currently, VDOT, Kellerco, and staff are not in a position to clearly evaluate the traffic impacts of the proposed development.

Comprehensive Plan:

The currently adopted Comprehensive Plan for the Bealeton Service District, suggesting residential use at a density of 4 – 6 dwellings per acre, was adopted in 1994.  Upon request by Mr. Donald Tharpe, the Service District Plan was then amended to designate 25 acres of the property for a mixed use development of commercial-institutional-residential uses.  The updated Bealeton Service District Plan, as proposed by the Citizen Committee, would alter the proposed non-residential component to some 15 acres of mixed office-institutional uses and with the balance in residential at a density of 1 – 3 dwellings per acre. 

The applicant's rezoning proposal requests that the County allow the construction of 90 lots on 44 acres, resulting in a density of 2 dwellings per acre.  This development option would represent a lower density than that suggested by the adopted Plan, and be consistent with that density suggested by the Citizen Plan.

The Great Marsh designers have proposed a design of smaller lots, serviced by rear alleys, located in the south and western portions of the tract and larger lots located in the northern portion along the boundary with the rural settlement of Liberty , which includes several components of new urbanism.  The street network proposal would create generally rectangular blocks, whose geometry is pleasantly complicated by three planted traffic islands and three small urban parks.  A more natural park, termed Greenway, would incorporate the wet, upper region of a stream tributary to Great Marsh – a suggestion made in the Citizen Plan. 

Unfortunately, this residential neighborhood design does not address fundamental transportation issues.  The 1994 Plan does not provide guidance on how this property was to be accessed.  The subsequent plan amendment suggested that the property would gain access to Route 17 by means of Independence Avenue , which is privately held by the Fauquier County School Board.  Apparently no formal commitment was obtained from the School Board prior to the granting of this plan amendment, and the School Board appears unwilling to give such a commitment now.  The applicant continues to indicate access to Independence Avenue as the main access to the development.

Architectural Elements:

The design team's efforts have been exemplary, and are represented by the design elements, which are outstanding.  While the applicant has provided excellent examples of how the PDMU might develop architecturally, those elements do not appear to be binding on the applicant and future homeowners' associations.  The proposed modifications related to bulk regulations would provide the applicant a great deal of flexibility to design an exciting urban community; however, with the architectural controls, the development might not develop over time as envisioned by the applicant and the surrounding community.


The most critical refinement needed is to amend the proffers to relate to the applicant's proposed 90 residential units, rather than voided 225 unit option.   As indicated in this report, the proffer statement assessment has raised several inconsistencies based on text references to monetary contributions to be made after a certain unit number, while transportation, density, and architectural control implementation continue to be impediments.  It is staff's expectation that the proffers should indicate that the cash contributions would begin after the 6th residential lot.

In staff's evaluation, the applicant needs to take the following steps, at a minimum, to address the weaknesses with the proposed PDMU:

  1. Address the transportation impacts of the proposed development based on VDOT's, Kellerco, and staff's review and analysis of the revised transportation study.
  2. Work with VDOT, Kellerco, the School Board, and staff on access to the development from Independence Avenue consistent with the Citizen Committee Bealeton Service District Plan Update.
  3. Design the street network and road infrastructure such that u-turn movements along Route 17 are not a key component to the transportation patterns of the development.
  4. Grant right-of-way reservations to address the perimeter road and other future roads identified in the Citizen Committee Bealeton Service District Plan.
  5. Revise the proffer statement to reflect the scope of the proposed development, the adopted Proffer Policy, and make technical revisions to the proffers as noted in the staff report.
  6. Locate the proposed 20-foot perimeter buffer outside the residential lots, design, and then construct the planned trail system within that buffer area.  This trail system should either be dedicated to the County or easements should be made to the County to allow public access to the trails.
  7. Refine the modifications to provide a minimum of 5-foot setbacks on both sides of the proposed detached "Townhouse" lots.
  8. Maintain the maximum building height of 35 feet; however, a clock tower, steeple, spire, or other similar feature may have a maximum height of 50 feet as an architectural design feature.
  9. Maintain the minimum alley design standards as required by the Subdivision Ordinance.
  10. Maintain the eligibility of the public streets to be accepted by VDOT.  The proposed street modification request should be revised and approved by VDOT and staff, prior to submission to the Board of Supervisors.
  11. Include the Architectural Patterns, Great Marsh, (Document dated: October 2002) as part of the Proffer Statement by reference.  The applicant should also revise the proffer statement to include a more definitive commitment to the architectural design elements as proposed within the referenced document.

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Hold the public hearing and postpone action on the rezoning application to allow the applicant time to refine the proposed proffer package and to address the concerns noted in this report.  However, if the applicant is unwilling to address the outstanding issues, staff recommends that the rezoning request be denied in its current form.

Planning Commission Action:

On October 24, 2002 , the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the request be denied.  The Commission indicated that the application was not in a form that could be sent to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.  The Commission indicated that additional time was necessary for the applicant to address the outstanding issues as noted in the staff reports.  However, the applicant requested that the Commission take action that evening. 

The Planning Commission staff reports are available upon request.


  1. Concept Development Plan
  2. Proffer Statement