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October 6, 2017

Board undecided about Marshall “form-based” code

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel needs two more votes to approve the long-debated zoning overhaul for the Northern Fauquier Village.
You don’t know the votes until we get to the vote. I’m spending a lot of time to educate the other supervisors. I’ve been immersed in this for two years, and they haven’t.
— Marshall District Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
With time running short, the fate of the proposed “Marshall Code” remains uncertain.

Fauquier’s board of supervisors next Thursday probably will decide whether to approve the controversial zoning ordinance amendment, intended to provide greater development flexibility and preserve the historic “fabric” of the Northern Fauquier village.

But, as of Friday, Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall District) — the code’s sponsor — still needed a third vote to ensure the proposed amendment’s passage.

Ms. McDaniel believes board Chairman Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) plans to back the 31-page “form-based” code.

“From all of our conversations, he’s been very supportive,” she said.

But Mr. Gerhardt on Friday declined to discuss his vote.

“Before I say what I’m going to do, I want to hear what everybody has to say” about a related public hearing Thursday on a proposal that would allow automobile sales and services in Marshall’s “gateway” areas, the board chairman said.

Assuming he supports the proposed code, Ms. McDaniel must pick up a third vote from Chris Granger (Center) or Chris Butler (Lee). Because he owns Main Street property that would be affected by the code, Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott) has recused himself from the deliberations.

“I’m truly on the fence on this,” Mr. Granger said Thursday. “I feel like there’s still a lot of questions about the code. I’ve read and re-read the code. There’s the public concerns. And I’m just not sure.”

Mr. Butler declined to discuss his position until next week.

“Before I can make any statement, I need to speak with Mary Leigh (McDaniel), which will be Monday,” he said in a text.

> Summary of proposal at bottom of story

Ms. McDaniel refused to speculate whether she could pick up a third vote to seal the code’s adoption.

“You don’t know the votes until we get to the vote,” the Marshall supervisor said. “I’m spending a lot of time to educate the other supervisors. I’ve been immersed in this for two years, and they haven’t.

“So they’re just trying to get their heads around everything. And I’m doing everything I can to get them there.”

Resisting a prediction on how the board might act, Ms. McDaniel expressed some hope for the proposal, based on the supervisors’ past practices.

“What I know about this board is that they tend to vote good policy, and this is good policy.”

A tie vote among the four supervisors would result in the code’s denial.

If Ms. McDaniel suspects such an outcome, would she consider postponing a vote or shelving the proposal?

“I don’t think it’s going to come to that. So I haven’t been spending a lot of time on that. We’re planning on a vote Thursday.”

The proposed code seeks to implement the comprehensive plan’s traditional town vision for Marshall.

Replacing most of downtown’s existing zoning, the code puts more emphasis on building form and design. Allowing more by-right uses, it code calls for three contiguous zoning districts — “Town,” “Gateway” and “Town Residential” — and a historic district and corridor along Main Street and Winchester Road.

The document has gone through six drafts. Many speakers during the supervisors’ Sept. 14 public hearing focused on a proposed five-citizen review board and the historic district. Based on suggestions the supervisors received during the hearing, proposed revisions to the code would:

• Eliminate the proposed, five-citizen Marshall Review Board and give Fauquier’s zoning administrator the authority to review and act on land-use applications in the proposed Marshall Historic District.

• Reduce the size of the proposed historic district.

• Provide greater land-use flexibility and clarify portions of the code.

Twenty-one people spoke at the board’s hearing last month. Twelve seemed to back the measure — several with qualifications — and eight opposed it. Many speakers focused on a proposed five-citizen review board and the historic district.

There have been 11 community meetings, six planning commission work sessions and three planning commission public hearings devoted to the code, according to the county staff.

Fauquier’s planning commission in July unanimously recommended approval of a version of the code.

MarshallCode_6thDraft_0925 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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