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A Plan for Public Facilities: Sustaining the Rural ... - Fauquier County

A Plan for Public Facilities: Sustaining the Rural ... - Fauquier County

information, email, instant messaging and other communications services available over the internet. For businesses, it means communicating more quickly and reliably with customers and suppliers. For all citizens, it means that information can move into and out of our homes and businesses more efficiently than it does today. There are numerous challenges to bringing high speed broadband services to all of the citizens and businesses in Fauquier County. With over 650 square miles, Fauquier is one of the largest counties in Virginia and has topographic conditions ranging from the mountainous areas of the Blue Ridge and Bull Run Mountains, to the rolling and flatter areas of the piedmont, posing problems for cell tower provision of services. The County overall is rural in nature; even the denser service districts do not have enough density to lend themselves to fiber, cable or powerline-based broadband services. Additionally, the County lacks large-scale industry, technology or commercial businesses, which drive the installation of fiber-based broadband services. The only areas of the County where wired service (fiber) and wireless service are both available and currently working within the Town of Warrenton and Vint Hill. Satellite-based services such as DISH Network, DIRECTV and HughesNet are available in both the urban service districts and rural areas, but do not offer the speed, bandwidth and reliability to work effectively for commercial and business applications. Additionally, there are several pockets in the County where tower-based providers, such as Virginia Broadband and Blaze Broadband, have provided service. Small areas in the south and southwestern parts of the County are served by Virginia Broadband towers located in adjoining counties, where the service area extends into Fauquier County. Blaze Broadband, a small Fauquier-based service provider, offers a small service area in the Marshall District. The County has explored four different service options in its desire to ultimately extend broadband services to unserved and underserved areas in the County, including: Free Market Model: County government would have no direct role in broadband development beyond the regulatory role of approving tower/antennae locations under the Zoning Ordinance. Existing Assets Model: County would make its existing resources, including towers and land, available through a competitive process to private vendors, who would install equipment and operate the services. Expanded Assets Model: County would use a propagation study to determine the additional assets needed to achieve the County’s coverage objectives, construct the necessary improvements and then lease to private sector vendors. Full System Ownership Model: County would create a Wireless Service Authority that could own and operate the system itself or in conjunction with a private entity partner. A Plan for Public Facilities December 2009 Page 66

Existing Assets Model In the spring of 2009, the Board of Supervisors determined it would make its existing resources, including vertical assets and land, available through a competitive lease arrangement to one or more private vendors who would install the necessary equipment and provide broadband service. To date, the County has leased shared space within the County-owned equipment building at the base of the Vint Hill Tower and within the equipment building and tower at the Ensor Shop Road Tower in the southern portion of the County. In addition to the Ensor Shop Tower in the Cedar Run District, the County owns two other towers – one on Blue Mountain (on Virginia Games and Inland Fisheries-controlled land) and the other on federal land at the Warrenton Training Center. Unfortunately, the shared use of these last two towers is restricted by the nature of the agreements with the agencies upon whose land the towers sit. C. Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Fauquier County has owned and operated the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, located in Midland, since 1992. The purpose of the airport is to serve as one of the five reliever airports for Washington-Dulles International Airport and to provide general aviation and public use services to the citizens of Fauquier County and others. The airport is an independent enterprise fund, receiving very little from the County’s General Fund. Its operations are primarily funded through revenue from tie-down fees, hangar rentals and fuel sales. Historically, capital improvement projects at the airport have been funded through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Aviation. Recent upgrades include a newly paved 5,000 foot runway and two long rows of Thangars, allowing the airport to successfully serve the flying needs of our growing area. Located within the Midland Village Service District in the south-central part of Fauquier County on 407 acres, the airport is home to approximately 145 based aircrafts with an estimated 55,000 to 60,000 annual operations, making it one of the five busiest general aviation airports in the state. It has enjoyed a steady growth over the past 15 years, largely realizing earlier projected growth for the Year 2020. The strength of the regional demographics (and an active T-hanger waiting list) supports the outlook for continued strong demand for additional airport facilities. The Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Master Plan is currently undergoing an extensive update that will include proposals for and justification of major new investments over the next 15 years. Additionally, the County is considering a companion economic analysis for the industrial area around the airport. The strength of the regional economy supports the outlook for business and industrial development adjoining the airport. In April 2009, the Board of Supervisors declared economic development a top priority. For economic development to occur in and around the airport in the Midland Village Service District, the provision of public water and sewer to the area is essential. The Economic Development Study for the Midland Service District Airport Area currently being considered is expected to examine the potential for economic development in the study area, to determine what improvements may be needed to support economic development, to identify the costs to prepare the area for quality development and to project revenue and economic benefits that will accrue to the County as development occurs. Improvements include, but are not limited to, water and sewage infrastructure, transportation, energy sources and information/communication resources. A Plan for Public Facilities December 2009 Page 67

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