On October 12, 2017 the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved the Marshall Code, which included (1) A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Create Three New Zoning Districts: Marshall Town (M-T), Marshall Gateway (M-G) and Marshall Residential (M-R); (2) a Zoning Map Amendment to Rezone Properties within a Portion of Downtown Marshall to Three New Zoning Districts; and (3) A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Create the Marshall Historic District and a Zoning Map Amendment to Include the Boundaries of the Marshall Historic District (MHD). The official Code can be found in Article 4 of the Zoning Ordinance.
What is The Marshall Code?
County staff developed new zoning for portions of downtown Marshall and a local historic overlay district ordinance for Marshall. The new districts with new regulations replace the C-1, C-2, C-3, R-2, R-4 and TH zoning districts in portions of Marshall. The new zoning is written specifically for Marshall so that goals and issues unique to Marshall can be addressed.
The three new zoning districts proposed in the Marshall Code will create new and different requirements for: lot size, lot width, lot shape, setbacks, build-to-lines, location of access into a lot, number of curb-cuts into a lot, width of curb-cuts, building height, building stories, ground floor to ceiling minimums, footprints, breaks in building massing, entrance locations, roof forms, window and door openings, fencing, number of parking spaces, location of parking on lots, parking reductions, shared and off-site parking, loading spaces, uses and use limitations, sidewalk and street trees, street lighting, landscaping and screening, and open space. The requirements contained within the Marshall Code are modeled on existing development in Marshall. Uses are still regulated, but more uses are allowed and more uses are allowed by-right. The amendment will also create revised standards for approving administrative permits and site plans and new standards for cluster-type residential subdivisions.
Why did the County adopt on new Zoning for Marshall?
In 2011, the County adopted The Marshall Service District Plan as part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. The plan was developed by Marshall’s residents and property owners, through a series meetings focusing on each neighborhood within the Marshall Service District as well as the broader planning issues of transportation, historic resources, public realm, infrastructure and utilities. Participating citizens were briefed on the major land use and development trends in the area, and then worked to create a “uniquely Marshall” vision for the future of Marshall. This vision calls for new development to be designed with many of the familiar features of the existing and traditional small-town development patterns found in Marshall, including close-knit neighborhoods, walkable residential and retail areas, an interconnected grid of streets that will help distribute the transportation burden on Main Street as Marshall grows, and human-scale streetscapes with narrower, traffic calmed street widths that are more comfortable for pedestrians.
The adopted Marshall Plan called for new zoning regulations that would work better for Marshall. The proposed new regulations replace existing zoning regulations for much of downtown Marshall with new regulations designed specifically to achieve the vision for Marshall.
The new Marshall zoning is structured as a Form-Based Code (FBC) rather than as a traditional zoning district. Traditional zoning districts focus on uses, typically separating uses to avoid impacts and limiting uses through numerical requirements such as setbacks, parking ratios, dwellings per acre, etc. In contrast, a FBC focuses more on the physical form of buildings, how those buildings relate to the street, and how they fit together to create neighborhoods. Uses are still regulated, but more uses are allowed and more are allowed by-right. A FBC is unique to every place it is used, as it is based on the specific vision the community has for itself as well as the existing fabric of the community. Writing the new regulations as a FBC allowed the development of unique regulations for Marshall based on the vision set forth in the adopted plan and the unique characteristics of existing traditional development patterns found in Marshall.
View the adopted 2011 Marshall Service District Plan.
Click below to learn more about Form Based Codes:
Form-Based Codes Institute
Why was a local Historic District adopted?
In addition to calling for new Zoning for Marshall, the adopted Marshall Service District Plan specifically calls for adoption of a local historic district for those areas located within the existing national historic district, and for a Corridor District overlay for those parcels on roads leading to the Historic District. The Plan specifically called for a task force, appointed by the Board of Supervisors and chaired by a member of the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Society, be created to recommend proposed regulations. This Task Force was formed and worked through 2013 to develop a draft Historic Ordinance. That work has been incorporated into the proposed regulations.
The Historic District adopted in Marshall is not your typical historic district; it seeks only to assure broad compatibility for new buildings and additions. It does not regulate many of the things that people often point to as onerous; there are no requirements to utilize historically authentic materials (modern materials are fine) and no review for such things as replacement windows and/or siding or colors. Demolitions of buildings designated as contributing structures in the historic district are regulated, but the goal is not to save every building; rather, the goal is to save those buildings that are most important.
Is my property affected?
Not all properties within the Marshall Service District are covered by the new Code. The maps above show the property covered by the Marshall Code and Historic Overlay District. All affected property owners have been notified by mail.
How can this be 'Form Based Code' since uses are still regulated?
Form Based Codes regulate uses; they simply do not regulate uses as stringently as do more conventional codes. The Marshall Code allows new uses not previously allowed, and makes more uses by-right within the business areas.
Why is the new zoning better than the previous zoning?
The previous zoning for Marshall is the same zoning found throughout the County, and frankly, it does not work well for Marshall. On balance, the new zoning represents an up-zoning providing more flexibility to property owners. It better addresses the types of uses that staff has frequently had inquiries about. It allows for what appear to be 'illegal' (never approved with required permits) apartments and/or short-term lodging units found on the upper stories of a number of Marshall's buildings to easily be legalized. It is designed to facilitate changes in uses over time within the same buildings.
I am a business owner on Main Street. How does the Code help me?
The previous zoning made it difficult to facilitate the types of uses that have organically evolved within Marshall over the years, and many existing uses do not actually comply with existing zoning regulations. One of the key goals in writing the form-based element of the Code was to simplify the rules for businesses, allowing more businesses by-right, providing for new business types that do not fit into the existing zoning scheme, and facilitating business evolution over time. The Historic Overlay District is designed to help maintain Marshall's unique small-town character so that it can serve as driver of economic development for Marshall. The 'lite' nature of the District is designed to impose minimal requirements, far fewer than most historic districts.
I am an existing homeowner in the residential neighborhoods. How will this new Code affect me?
As a homeowner, the Code should have minimal effect on your use of the property. One significant change is that you can now have an accessory apartment (a basement apartment or cottage in the back yard), which is not allowed under the current R-4 zoning. The ability to add to your property or construct outbuildings should not be reduced; in fact, setbacks are generally less, providing more ability to fully utilize your lot.
I'm already in the special Marshall Taxing district; will this Code increase the amount I am taxed to pay for more sidewalks, lights & maintenance?
The Code does not require anyone to build sidewalks, provide lights, etc. except in conjunction with proposed development of their property. This is the way that it works under the existing Zoning Ordinance and it will continue to work in this way. Maintenance responsibility for these elements then becomes the responsibility of the owners in the development. For example, the new Van Meter subdivisions approved at the west end of Marshall will bring new sidewalks and streetlights. These will be maintained by the HOA for those subdivisions. Open space areas will also be maintained by the HOA, except for any space dedicated to public use, which will become the responsibility of the entire County to maintain.