PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Owners/Applicants:

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Fairview Farm LTD

December 11, 2008

Staff Lead:

Department: 

Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development

Magisterial District:
Scott

PIN:
 
7906-74-8395-000

Service District:
None

Topic: 

A Category 23 Special Exception (SPEX09-SC-006) to Allow Display of Materials in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-Year Floodplain and a Category 18 Special Permit (SPPT09-SC-007) for Continued Use and Expansion of Plant Nursery Retail Sales

 

Topic Description:

The applicant has filed a Category 18 Special Permit for the continued operation of Meadows Farms Nursery, a retail sales nursery, in the Rural Agriculture (RA) zoning district on approximately five acres of a 106-acre parcel (PIN 7906-74-8395-000).  In addition, a Category 23 Special Exception is requested for the display of materials in the 100-year floodplain.  It is important to note that the Special Permit request pertains to the overall use on the 5-acre portion of the site, whereas the Special Exception request pertains only to the approximately 30,000 square foot area that is shown on the plat as “New Stone Center Display Area.”

On March 2, 1972 the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals granted a Special Permit to John Treese, to locate a plant and tree nursery on approximately five acres of land across from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in New Baltimore.  The location of the acreage was not delineated, nor were there any conditions associated with the approval.  The applicant contends that the current location of the nursery (not including the rock display) is in the same location as the original approval.  However, there is no way to confirm this information.

On December 12, 2007 the applicant was notified of a Zoning Ordinance violation for the stone display in the floodplain.  Since then they have been working to cure that violation and thus, have filed these applications.  The applicant is requesting to continue the current business, with the addition of materials display within the FEMA 100-year floodplain.   The new Special Exception/Special Permit Plat delineates the 5 acres used for the nursery.

Approximately 30,000 square feet of the 5-acre portion of the site is used for display of landscape rock and similar materials.  A portion of the 5-acre site is not within the FEMA 100-year floodplain.  There is a strip along the northern border of the site that is out of the floodplain.  The existing mulch area, sales building and most of the greenhouse are within this location.  Although a portion of the greenhouse is within the FEMA 100-year floodplain, according to the Zoning Office, these structures were built prior to the County’s floodplain ordinance and are thus grandfathered.

 

Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:

The property is located at 5020 Lee Highway.  It is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).  Consistent with the RA zoning category, the property is located in a district where agriculture and forestry are the predominant uses.  A map of the property is shown below:                   

          

Surrounding Zoning and Current Land Use:

Surrounding parcels are zoned RA and the southern portion of the property is bounded by Route 15/29.  South of Route 15/29, the parcels are zoned Commercial Highway (C-2).   

Staff and Review Agency Comments:

Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. Following each comment is a staff note in italics stating how the comment has been addressed.

There have been no new comments received since these items were reviewed at the Planning Commission.

Planning Office

The applicant has met the requirements of Zoning Ordinance Section 5-006, General Standards for Special Permits and Special Exception Uses.  General standards for all Special Exceptions require that the proposed use will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties, will not conflict with existing traffic, and other such criteria to protect the surrounding environment.  In this case, the proposed expansion of the use will not cause degradation of the surrounding area or add traffic.

In addition, the following standards for floodplain uses are relevant for the proposed project:

Standards for All Category 23 Uses

1.     No such use shall cause an increase in the level of flooding or velocity of flood waters.

The proposed use of displaying landscaping rocks and like materials will not cause an increase in the level of flooding or velocity of flood waters.

2.     No such use shall create a potential hazard of debris subject to movement by flood waters which might cause damage downstream.

The rocks will not cause a potential hazard of debris subject to movement by flood waters which might cause damage downstream, because they are not buoyant and will not float away.

3.     The John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District shall be given the opportunity to comment on such uses.

JMSWCD will comment at site plan stage.

4.     The applicant shall have obtained and shall present evidence attesting any applicable approvals by State and Federal authorities concerning such a use.

There are no applicable state and federal approvals needed for the display of landscaping rocks in the floodplain.

5.     Materials and equipment stored in the floodplain shall not be buoyant, flammable or explosive, and shall not be subject to major damage by flooding or such materials and equipment must be firmly anchored to prevent flotation or movement and/or can be readily removed from the area within the time available after flood warning.

The materials requested are landscape rocks, which are not buoyant, flammable or explosive, nor are they subject to major damage by flooding.

6.     Special exceptions shall only be issued after the Board of Supervisors has determined that the granting of such will not result in (a) unacceptable or prohibited increase in flood heights, (b) additional threats to public safety, (c) extraordinary public expense, (d) create nuisances, (e) cause fraud or victimization of the public, or (f) conflict with local law or ordinances.

If approved, this special exception will not result in an increase in flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud or victimization of the public or conflict with local laws or ordinances.

7.    Special exceptions shall only be issued after the Board of Supervisors has determined that the special exception will be necessary to provide the applicant with reasonable use of the parcel of land in question, taken as a whole.

The display of the proposed goods in the floodplain is a benefit to the owner of the property, the applicant and (according to the applicant) to the county.  In 2007 the applicant sold over $300,000 worth of stone at this location.  The location of the display, in close proximity to Route 15/29 is important to the applicant.

8.    The Zoning Administrator shall notify the applicant for a special exception in writing, at the time of filing, that the issuance of a special exception to construct a structure below the one hundred (100) year flood elevation (a) will increase risks to life and property, and (b) will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.

Noted.

9.         A record of the above notification as well as all special exception actions, including justification for their issuance, shall be maintained and any special exceptions which are issued shall be noted in the annual report submitted to the Federal Insurance Administrator.Noted.

Additional Standards for Plant Nursery/Greenhouse, Retail Sales, in Rural Zoning Districts

1.      The minimum lot size shall be five (5) acres.

The use is located on a 106-acre parcel.

2.      No building, structure, outdoor storage, parking or loading area shall be located within 50 feet of any lot line.

The applicant meets this standard and notes that its parking has been in existence prior to this standard being in effect.

3.      Off-street parking, loading and outdoor storage areas shall be effectively screened.

All areas shall be effectively screened with the Site Plan, if required.

4.      No sales of power tools, garden vehicles or machinery shall be conducted on the premises.

The applicant meets this standard.

Engineering           

The Engineering Department has reviewed the above referenced Special Exception, Category 23, for display of landscaping rocks and like materials in the 100-year floodplain as well as the Special Permit, Category 18, and recommends the following conditions of approval.

1.      A drainage study shall be provided with the site plan demonstrating that the display of landscaping rocks and like materials within the floodplain will not cause an increase in the level of flooding or velocity of flood waters on adjacent or downstream properties.

A Special Exception Condition has been drafted to address this requirement.

2.      The approximately 30,000 square foot site used for display of landscaping rocks and like materials shall meet SWM/BMP design criteria in accordance with the Fauquier County Design Standards Manual.

Information for the applicant (for Site Plan).

Zoning

  1. Staff would note that a Special Permit was approved for this site on March 2, 1972. This original use area is depicted as existing on the current Special Permit Plat. Since that time, the use has been expanded beyond the area approved by that Special Permit and now extends into the floodplain, in conflict with the provisions of Section 4-406.7 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance. The area of this expansion is denoted on the Special Permit Plat as “New Stone Center Display Area.” A notice of violation dated December 12, 2007 was sent to the property owners citing the following violations on the property:

a.       Expanding materials into the floodplain area;

b.      No site plan for retail nursery sales;

c.       No Special Permit approved to allow storage in the floodplain;

d.      No standards met for floodplain uses;

e.       No site plan approved.

Upon receiving the Notice of Violation, the Applicants promptly met with staff to determine the best way to clear up the violations.  Instead of removing the new area, the Applicant is undertaking the process of obtaining permits that will legalize the entire use.  These applications are the result.  The Special Permit will cover the previously approved area and the expansion of the retail nursery.  The Special Exception is for the display of materials in the 100-year floodplain and is required by Section 4.406.7 of the Zoning Ordinance.

The Special Exception and Special Permit requested in this application  seek to  cure the aforementioned zoning violations.

  1. Staff would further note that there appears to be numerous sign violations on the property. Within the RA zoning district the property is limited to a 32 square foot identification sign.

Information for the applicant.

  1. A site plan shall be required for this use, if approved.

The Site Plan pertains to the requested area on the plat titled “New Stone Center Display Area.”

  1. The following Zoning Ordinance standards are applicable:

a.       5-006 General Standards;

b.      5-1801 Standards for All Category 18 Uses in Rural Zoning Districts;

c.       5-1804 Additional Standards for Plant Nursery/Greenhouse, Retail Sales, in Rural Zoning Districts as follows:

1.      The minimum lot size requirement shall be five (5) acres.

2.      No building, structure, outdoor storage, parking or loading area used for or in conjunction with such use shall be located within fifty (50) feet of any lot line.

3.      Off-street parking, loading and outdoor storage areas shall be effectively screened.

4.      No sales of power tools, garden vehicles or machinery shall be conducted on the premises.

d.      5-2301, Standards for All Category 23 Uses.

The following findings are required by the Board in order to grant this Special Exception:  That the granting will not result in (a) unacceptable or prohibited increase in flood heights, (b) additional threats to public safety; (c) extraordinary public expense, (d) create nuisances, (e) cause fraud or victimization of the public, or (f) conflict with local law or ordinance. (Section 5-2301.6).  The Board must also find that the special exception will be “necessary to provide the applicant with reasonable use of the parcel of land in question, taken as a whole.” (Section 5-2301.7)

Zoning Staff defers to Planning Staff the assessment of standard compliance. Staff notes that a site plan is required for this use and, in conjunction with the new portion of the property, will be required to be provided, including along the Route 29 frontage.

Please see the earlier “Planning Staff” comments for detail on how the applicant has met each of these standards. 

Soils

Findings:

Based off the Fauquier County Soil Survey and the Interpretive Guide to the Soils of Fauquier County, VA, this parcel contains soils listed as “NOT SUITED” for general development using a conventional septic tank and drainfields due to high potential for shrink-swell soils and a high water table.  The remainder of the site (3%) is listed as “MARGINAL” due to slow percolation in the subsoil.  The majority (69%) of the site is listed as “hydric” and 28% of the site may have hydric soil inclusions meaning there is a potential for jurisdictional wetlands.  Also 3% of the site is rated as “Statewide Important Farmland.”

Information for the applicant.  There are no buildings or drainfields requested with this application.

Virginia Department of Health

This office has no objection to the proposal.  However, our records indicate there is not an approved sewage disposal system for the nursery.  The applicant would need to receive permission from the county in order to retain the two existing portable toilets on a non-temporary basis.  If approved, application will need to be made through this office and the privies must be maintained in accordance with all requirements of Sec. 17-16 b. of the County Code.  If not approved, the applicant will need to contract with a private soil evaluator to locate an area suitable for a sewage disposal system and reserve; or tap into public sewer if available.

The original Special Permit approval did not have a time limit on it. The continued use of portable toilets under the original permission (Special Permit) may continue as long as the parameters of that use have not been violated.  The additional storage area does not trigger the need for upgraded facilities. 

Summary and Recommendation:

All agency comments have been addressed.

Planning Commission Action:

On October 30, 2008, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of this item, subject to conditions.

 

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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

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

Department of Community Development

Attachments:

1.         Statement of Justification

2.         Special Exception/Special Permit Plat

 

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