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Fauquier is Becoming a Dumping Ground for Nonagricultural Fill

Truck load after truck load of construction debris from Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William are being dumped in Fauquier despite the efforts of the county to regulate the practice. The debris, known as nonagricultural fill — construction waste, concrete, rebar, asphalt — threatens both surface and ground water, not to mention farm land. 

In the fall of 2017, the Fauquier Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously approved an ordinance  titled Additional Standards for Storage or Disposal of Nonagricultural Fill Material Not Generated on the Farm in Conjunction with an Agricultural Operation.

The ordinance affects parcels greater than 10 acres. Here are its provisions:

  1. Special Exception approval shall not be required unless the amount of nonagricultural fill material brought to the parcel(s) exceeds 200 cubic yards within any 24 hour period OR if the amount of fill material brought to the parcel(s) exceeds 4,200 cubic yards within a one year period. 

  2. The storage, or disposal, of nonagricultural fill materials shall not be located within 100 feet of a property line, well or the edge of a stream unless a permit has been obtained to construct an embankment within or near a stream. 

  3. The nonagricultural fill material must be used only to support an agricultural purpose and the applicant shall provide an Agricultural Affidavit attesting to that agricultural purpose. 

  4. The applicant shall demonstrate that the nonagricultural fill material is the only available option to improve the existing agricultural operation.  The applicant shall demonstrate that the soil productivity ratings of the imported fill material are equal or better than the existing agricultural soils. 

  5. The following items shall be required prior to the issuance of the required land disturbing permit:  a.) A grading plan indicating the location and amount of fill to be placed on the subject parcel(s); b.) An erosion and sedimentation control plan; c.) A land disturbing permit application.

From CFFC’s perspective these are some of the problems:

  1. Applicants always come in under the threshold which triggers the Special Exception. In other words, they never exceed the 200 cubic yards/day (which is equal to about 20 dump trucks) or the 4,200 cubic yards/year (which is about 420 dump trucks) and therefore are required to do nothing.

  2. If they are under the threshold, they are not required to comply with the 100 feet restriction from a property line, well or edge of a stream.

  3. There is no certification process to determine fill content, i.e. that it doesn’t contain prohibited material or chemicals even if the applicant went through the Special Exception process.

  4. The county does not have the personnel to monitor compliance.

Fortunately, the county recognizes the problem and staff has briefed the supervisors and the Planning Commission. The county staff is supposed to present a path forward at the July BOS meeting. 

CFFC’s position has been that the county should severely limit the amount of nonagricultural fill coming into the county. In addition, any fill coming into the county must require a paper trail documenting where the fill came from, where it is dumped and a certification that it is clean and not full of contaminants. CFFC will continue to monitor this.

Please feel free to contact CFFC or the Board of Supervisors with your thoughts or concerns.


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