The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors has sent the Planning Commission a package of changes that would blunt the effect of recently passed state legislation meant to change the way the county approves certain residential developments.
The proposed changes, to existing zoning laws and the county's comprehensive plan, would encourage developers to choose a special exception process rather than submit to expensive requirements.
In May, Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) signed House Bill 2324, which targeted Fauquier County and does away with special exception permits as the only approval process available for certain residential developments.
Under the old procedure, in areas already zoned for residential use, the board could turn down proposed developments of more than 50 lots in service districts outside Warrenton, and those with more than 100 lots in Warrenton, if the builders did not meet the supervisors' conditions.
Under the proposed changes, every residential developer in service districts would be required to furnish land for roads, establish connections to public water and sewer lines and provide land for open space. Such improvements are not required now across the board, but typically they have been discussed and often added during the special exception process.
The Planning Commission will review the proposals before returning them to the board for final action.
"What we've done is, in effect, restored the special exception process," said board Chairman Larry L. Weeks (R-Scott). "What we have done is make the requirements for development such that the developer will want to go through a special exception process."
County Attorney Paul S. McCulla said that this did not violate the new state law, "since we're requiring this of everyone now."
In other business Tuesday, the board approved a plan that would provide cash for the construction of more sports fields in Fauquier County.
The board would pay for the fields with $3.5 million from an $8.5 million construction fund for the new James G. Brumfield Elementary School. That money would be replaced by a loan to the Schools Division from the Virginia Public School Authority.
Once the loan is secured, the Board of Parks and Recreation can begin planning for what are expected to be three sports complexes in the southern, middle, and northern parts of the county.
Financing the 20-year loan would cost about $350,000 annually, according to county officials. Weeks said that this would not pinch the budget, because the new Virginia Power plant being built in the southern part of the county is expected to generate more than enough money to cover the debt service.
"Our sports complex resolution is replete with the idea that we will be getting revenue from Virginia Power," Weeks said. In preliminary figures, County Commissioner of Revenue Ross W. D'Urso estimated that the plant could generate $1.7 million annually in revenue once it goes online next year.
In an interview after the meeting, County Administrator G. Robert Lee said he was warning the board not to treat the Virginia Power plant as a done deal, even though it received an air pollution permit last week from state environmental authorities.
"I'd caution them to remember Disney," Lee said, referring to a massive amusement park that the entertainment company proposed to build in nearby Haymarket. The plan was thwarted in 1994 by a coalition of environmental and historic preservation groups.
Several people turned out at the meeting Tuesday to voice their opposition to the Remington plant, which is under construction and must clear some regulatory hurdles before it begins operation.
Also Tuesday, the board agreed to a six-month extension of a special exception permit for Oasis Winery on Hume Road, while the county and winery owners continue to negotiate how many entertainment activities can be held there each year. Residents have complained that the winery's public events are disrupting the neighborhood.