Planning Commission Meeting Date: 

Dominion Transmission, Inc.

December 15,  2003

Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator

Community Development


Topic:    A Resolution Extending the Review Period for Dominion Transmission Inc.ís Proposed

               Compressor Facility


Topic Description:


On November 4, 2003, Fauquier County received official notice of Dominion Transmission, Inc.ís (DTI) intention to acquire a 30.63 acre portion of the 282.5 acre property owned by Lewis J. and Martha M. Bender, which is located in the Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District.  DTI has indicated it has a contract with the Benders to purchase the property for the development of a gas compressor station adjacent to its existing measuring and regulating station and gas transmission facilities.    Because the property is located within an Agricultural and Forestal District, pursuant to the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4313, the proposal requires review and approval by the Board of Supervisors.   Ultimately, the project would also require Special Exception approval, a finding of compliance with the comprehensive plan, and a boundary line adjustment.




The 282.5 acre Bender property is one of 253 properties included within the 19,212 acre Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District, which expires on February 16, 2006.  The property has been in the Agricultural and Forestal District since 1996.


An existing 240 foot Virginia Power Transmission Easement and existing electric transmission facilities are located on the east side of the property, along with a Virginia Natural Gas transmission easement and pipeline and  a  separate 1.37  acre property already owned by Dominion Transmission, Inc. and utilized for a measuring and regulating facility.




The Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4313, sets forth a specific procedure which must be followed by a public service corporation proposing to acquire more than one acre of land within an Agricultural and Forestal District.  This procedure requires that notice be given to the County, and that the Board of Supervisors determine the following, in consultation with the Planning Commission and the Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee:   



(i)         The effect the action would have upon the preservation and enhancement of agriculture and forestry and agricultural and forestal resources within the district and the policies set forth in the state code;


(ii)                The necessity of the proposed action to provide service to the public in the most economical and practicable manner; and


(iii)               Whether reasonable alternatives to the proposed action are available that would minimize or avoid any adverse impacts on agricultural and forestal resources within the district.


The Board of Supervisors has 90 days to determine whether the proposed action might have an unreasonable effect upon either state or local policy, and may issue an order within the 90 days directing the public utility to not proceed with action for an additional period of 60 days so that the County may hold a public hearing and further review the proposal.  At the end of the 150 day period, the Board of Supervisors must render a final decision as to whether or not the proposal is approved.  Under the State Code provision, Dominion could appeal any decision of the Board of Supervisors to the Circuit Court.




The proposed compressor facility is one of two new gas compressor facilities DTI is proposing to build as part of a regional expansion project.  The applicant indicates that the additional compressor is needed to fulfill requests for service by DTIís Mid-Atlantic customers, such as Virginia Natural Gas.  The Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reviewed the proposed application and, on September 11, 2003, issued an order to construct the facility, finding the project was in the public interest and posed a minimal impact to the environment. 


The compressor station will involve the installation of a 6,000 hp gas-fired turbine, 1,600 feet of 24-inch diameter suction pipe, a 20-inch diameter discharge pipe, and support buildings and ancillary equipment necessary for the stationís operation.  The proposed area of disturbance is 4.5 acres.  The facility will be completely fenced and screened.  The facility may be intermittently manned with at least one employee as much as eight hours per day, but also will be designed for remote operations from DTIís headquarters in West Virginia. 


Impact on Agriculture  


The property is zoned Rural Agriculture, and is utilized for agricultural purposes, planted with soybeans, barley and corn.  According to the applicant, no wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas, cemeteries, floodplains, etc. have been identified on the portion of the property being acquired.


The Environmental Assessment prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project notes:


The site for the station has soil limitations which include a seasonal high watertable.  About 4.1 acres of cropland would be disturbed by construction of this facility.  About 2.2 acres of farmland would be taken out of production permanently.  The remaining 1.9 acres would be located along the ROW for the suction and discharge lines associated with this station and this land could be returned to agricultural use.  About 0.8 acre of prime farmland soil would be permanently disturbed since it would be within the fenced area of the compressor station.


The applicant further notes that they have not applied to remove the property from the Agricultural and Forestal District because, under the terms of its agreement with the Benders, all but a 4.5 acre portion of the property will be leased back to the Benders to be farmed.




The proposed compressor station is part of a larger Mid-Atlantic project aimed at improving the delivery of natural gas in the area.  The applicant states that upon completion of the project, DTI will be able to provide an additional 223 million cubic feet per day of incremental gas flow to end users in the northern and central Virginia areas.  DTI has indicated that a location in this general area is necessary, as it is near the end of DTIís existing gas transmission facilities.   This site was selected largely because it has an existing DTI facility (the M&R station).  Dominion indicates that any other location would be significantly more expensive and create substantially more impacts, because in addition to constructing the compressor station, pipeline would also have to be constructed.


Planning Commission and Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board Review


The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board met to review the proposal on November 5, 2003, and the Planning Commision reviewed the proposal on November 20, 2003.  Both bodies are charged with advising the Board of Supervisors regarding potential impacts of the proposal. 


The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board recommended that the Board extend the period of review to accommodate a full review and public hearing for the proposal.  The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board expressed specific concerns about potential environmental impacts and noise impacts; recommending that the Board of Supervisors examine these issues further.  In addition, the Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee recommended that the Board of Supervisors, as part of any approval, require that the majority of the land be made available to the Benders for farming as long as the parcel remained in the Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District.  


The Planning Commission also recommended that the Board extend the review period in order to hold a public hearing and more thoroughly review potential impacts, including all those raised by the Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


Consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Financial Impacts Analysis:


No analysis was conducted for this proposed amendment.

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


Board of Supervisors




  1. Resolution
  2. Special Exception Application*


*(Copies of the Dominion Transmission, Inc. Quantico Gas Compressor Station Special Exception Application are available in the Fauquier County Board of Supervisorsí office and the Department of Community Development  for review upon request.  A printed copy has been provided to each member of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.  Due to the size of the document, the memory consumed for Agenda Review, and current computer capabilities we are unable to present the document on the Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda Web Page at this time.)