Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

William G. Downey, Scott District Supervisor


December 13, 2007


Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator


Community Development



A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 11-102 to Clarify the Location Requirements for Wireless Facilities


Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment clarifies from where the 100-foot setback from a public highway, street or road is measured.  It establishes that wireless facilities cannot be constructed by-right with site plan approval within a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) right-of-way.  The amendment also further defines preserved woodland and wooded areas to establish a minimum density and tree size.  The amendment also changes the organization and order of the requirements of Section 11-102.2(a) to make their application more clear.


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:

Recently, the Fauquier County Circuit Court overruled a Zoning Administrator interpretation of Section 11-102.2(a) issued to Verizon Wireless.  The Zoning Administrator opined that Verizon could not construct an 80-foot tall commercial wireless facility between Interstate 66 and Route 55 near Thoroughfare Gap because the property was within a VDOT right-of-way and, therefore, could not meet the 100-foot setback from a public highway, street or road.  Although the Circuit Court declined to establish precisely from where the setback should be measured, the Court found that the area of trees between the two paved road surfaces was not “public highway, street or road” for the purposes of Section 11-102.2(a).  The Court noted that the Ordinance was ambiguous as to what line should be used to measure the setback and suggested that the County revise this Ordinance.

The proposed text amendment clearly defines that towers must be setback “100 feet from the public highway, street or road, measured from the right-of-way line as shown within a State Highway Plat Book, subdivision plat, or 15 feet from the centerline of a prescriptive right-of-way, when the facility is centered and surrounded by preserved woodland with a minimum radius depth of 100 feet.”  Staff has also taken this opportunity to clarify the meaning of “preserved woodland” by adding the following language to the provision: “The terms “woodland” and “wooded areas” shall mean growth of deciduous or conifer trees at a minimum density of 80 wooden stems per acre of trees that measure at least four inches in diameter breast high (DBH) or four and one half feet.” 

In addition to making the substantive changes, the order of the provisions was modified to make their application more clear.  As a result of that change, two internal citations within the Telecommunications Ordinance also had to be changed.

The Board of Supervisors initiated this Text Amendment on November 8, 2007.  The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposal on November 29, 2007 and unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Text Amendment.


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

Cell Tower Providers

Back to Agenda...