REVIEW OF THE NORTH FORK MOORMAN’S RIVER, PASTURE FENCE MOUNTAIN, AND EASTHAM AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICTS

 

Staff Contact:                                                                                                Rebecca Ragsdale

Planning Commission:                                                                                             March 16, 2004 

Board of Supervisors:                                                                                                                 April 14, 2004

 

Purpose:  The Agricultural and Forestal Districts program is an important voluntary protection measure utilized in the County. It is enabled by state law and adopted by the Board of Supervisors in Chapter 3 of the County Code.  Through the program, rural land is safeguarded and the County’s policy goal of protecting “Albemarle’s agricultural and forests as a resource base for its agricultural and forestry industries and for related benefits they contribute towards the County’s rural character, scenic quality, natural environment, and fiscal health” is implemented. The purpose of an Agricultural and Forestal District is further expanded in the County Code, adding that agricultural and forestal lands should be protected as valuable natural and ecological resources which provide essential open space for clean air sheds, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, as well as for aesthetic purposes. 

 

Effects of a District:  

 

1.         The District provides a community benefit by conserving and protecting farmlands and forest; environmental resources such as watersheds, air quality, open space, and wildlife habitat; and scenic and historic resources.

 

2.         The State Code stipulates that the landowner receive certain tax benefits*, and restrictions on public utilities and government action (such as land acquisition and local nuisance laws) to protect the agricultural/ forestal use of the land.  In exchange, the landowner agrees not to develop the property to a "more intensive use" during the specified number of years the district is in effect.

*Since Albemarle County currently permits all four categories of use value assessment, a district designation may not provide any additional real estate tax deductions.  Land in a district is protected from special utility assessments or taxes.

 

3.         The State Code stipulates that, "Local ordinances, comprehensive plans, land use planning decisions, administrative decisions and procedures affecting parcels of land adjacent to any district shall take into account the existence of such a district and the purposes of this chapter."  The district may have no effect on adjacent development by-right, but could restrict proposed rezonings or uses by special use permit which are determined to be in conflict with the adjacent agricultural/ forestal uses.  Districts must now be shown on the official Comprehensive Plan map each time it is updated.

 

In general, a district may have a stabilizing effect on land use.  The property owners in the district are making a statement that they do not intend to develop their property in the near future, and that they would like the area to remain in agricultural and forestal uses.  Adjacent property owners may be encouraged to continue agricultural uses if they do not anticipate development of adjacent lands. Currently, there are 24 agricultural/forestal districts in the County containing approximately 67,000 acres.

 

Renewal Procedure: In conducting a review, the Board shall ask for the recommendations of the local Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission in order to determine whether to terminate, modify, or continue the district.

 

The Board may stipulate conditions to continue the district and may establish a time period before the next review of the district, which may be different from the conditions or period established when the district was created.  Any such different conditions or period must be described in a notice to landowners in the district, and published in a newspaper at least two weeks prior to adoption of the ordinance continuing the district.

 

Unless the district is modified or terminated by the Board of Supervisors, the district shall continue as originally constituted, with the same conditions and time period before the next review as were established when the district was created.

 

When each district is reviewed, land within the district may be withdrawn at the owner’s discretion by filing a written notice with the Board of Supervisors at any time before the Board acts to continue, modify, or terminate the district.


 

 

NORTH FORK MOORMAN’S RIVER AGRICULTURAL/FORESTAL DISTRICT

 

The North Fork Moorman’s River District was created on November 17, 1993, and included 270.48 acres. There have been no additions or withdrawals since its creation.  However, landowners may withdraw their parcels from districts by right during a review at anytime before the Board of Supervisors takes final action to continue, modify, or terminate the district. At this time, there have been no requests to withdraw from the district.

 

Location:  The district is located in the northwestern portion of the county, north of Via Gap Trail, Cedar Mountain Trial, and CCC Road. (See Attachment B)

 

Acreage: There have been no changes in acreage and currently the district is 270.48 acres.

 

The County Code currently contains this description of the District:

 

Sec. 3-223 North Fork  Moorman’s River Agricultural and Forestal District.

 

            The district known as the "North Fork Moorman’s River Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax Map 4, parcels 1,2,3,4.  This district, created on November 17, 1993, for not more than 10 years, shall next be reviewed prior to November 17, 2003.

 

(11-17-93; 2-14-96; Code 1988, § 2.1-4(v); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98)

 

This description has been checked against staff’s records and is accurate.

 

Time Period: The district is currently on a 10-year review cycle. This is consistent with County policy of establishing a 10-year review schedule (the maximum) for all districts and staff does not recommend any changes.

 

Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: 270.48 acres, the entire district, are enrolled in the Forestry category of the land-use taxation program. The Pasture Fence Mountain Agricultural/Forestal District is located less than a half-mile south of this District. Also, immediately surrounding the District is the Shenandoah National Park.

 

This District helps to preserve important water resources. The North Fork Moorman’s River flows through this District and into the Moorman’s River.  The Moorman’s River is part of the South Fork Rivanna River watershed. It has been designated as an exceptional water from its headwaters, including its North and South Forks. The North and South Forks are also designated as natural trout streams by the Department of Environmental Quality. Continued protection of the Moorman’s River is an objective of the County.

 

Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry: The District is entirely forested and does not include any other land-uses.

 

Local Development Patterns: Immediately surrounding the district are large wooded mountainous parcels. There does not appear to be any substantial residential development potential due to the steep, remote conditions of the parcels.

Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations: The North Fork Moorman’s River District is located within Rural Area 1 of the Comprehensive Plan and all parcels are zoned RA (Rural Areas). There are no development areas proximate to this district.

 

The Open Space Plan shows this area to have important forests, major stream valleys, mountains, and  critical slopes greater than 25%.  It identifies the mountains as one of four major opens space systems which are the most important to protect, as they serve several functions and provide multiple benefits. Specifically, mountains include resources such as critical slopes, scenic views, wildlife habitat, forests, unique soils, and headwaters.

 

The properties in the North Fork Moorman’s River District are included in the Mountain Overlay District and are defined by elevations of 1000 or greater, as identified in the Mountain Protection Plan. Keeping these properties in an Agricultural and Forestal District may help protect mountain resources, which the plan seeks to preserve.

 

Environmental Benefits: Conservation of this area maintains the environmental integrity of the County and aids in the protection of ground and surface water, wildlife habitat, critical slopes, and mountain resources.

 

Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee Recommendation: The Advisory Committee discussed this District at their March 1, 2004 meeting and recommended renewal of the district.

 

Planning Commission Recommendation: The Planning Commission reviewed this District at their March 16, 2004 meeting and unanimously recommended renewal of the District.

 

Staff Recommendation: Staff recommends renewal of this District with a 10-year review period.

 


 

 

PASTURE FENCE MOUNTAIN AGRICULTURAL/FORESTAL DISTRICT

 

The Pasture Fence Mountain District was created on November 17, 1993, and included 870.42 acres. The table below summarizes the history of the District:

 

11-17-93

District Created/870.42 acres

 7-13-94

Addition/453.50 acres

 

Total/1,323.92

 

Landowners may withdraw their parcels from Districts by right during a review. One request has been made and is indicated below:

 

·          Owners of Tax Map 13, parcel 4 (Mr. Ronald P. Morris, Ms. Brenda S. Morris, and Mr. Jared P. Morris) have requested to withdraw the 77-acre parcel from the District. (See Attachment  C)

 

Location:  The Pasture Fence Mountain District is located in the northwestern portion of the county, west of Turks Land and CCC Road. Portions of the District are located along Black Rock Gap Road, Joe Harris Trail, Pasture Fence Mountain Trail, and Cedar Mountain Trail.   (See Attachment B)

 

Acreage: The District includes 1,323.92 acres in six parcels. With the requested withdrawal, it would be reduced to 1,246.92 acres.

 

The County Code currently contains this description of the District:

 

Sec. 3-225 Pasture Fence Agricultural and Forestal District.

 

            The district known as the "Pasture Fence Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax Map 13, parcels 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12.  This District, created on November 17, 1993, for not more than 10 years, shall next be reviewed prior to November 17, 2003.

 

(11-17-93; 7-13-94; Code 1988, § 2.1-4(u); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98)

 

This description has been checked against staff’s records and is accurate but will have to be revised to reflect the withdrawal of Tax Map 13, Parcel 4.

 

Time Period: The District is currently on a 10-year review cycle. This is consistent with County policy of establishing a 10-year review schedule (the maximum) for all districts and staff does not recommend any changes.

 

Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: 451 acres are enrolled in the Agriculture category of the use-value taxation program and 851 acres are enrolled in the Forestry category. The North Fork Moorman’s Agricultural District is located immediately north of the District and the Shenandoah National Park is adjacent to the west of the District.

 

This District helps to preserve important water resources. The North Fork Moorman’s River flows through this District and into the Moorman’s River.  The Moorman’s River is part of the South Fork Rivanna River watershed. It has been designated as an exceptional water from its headwaters, including its North and South Forks. The North and South Forks are also designated as natural trout streams by the Department of Environmental Quality. Continued protection of the Moorman’s River is an objective of the County.

 

Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry: The majority of the District is in agricultural and forests lands. The District includes one acre of that does not qualify for use-value taxation.

 

Local Development Patterns: Immediately surrounding the District are wooded mountainous parcels. There does not appear to be any substantial residential development potential due to the steep, remote conditions of the parcels in the district.

 

Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations: The Pasture Fence Mountain District is located within Rural Area 1 of the Comprehensive Plan and all parcels are zoned RA (Rural Areas). There are no development areas proximate to the District.

 

The Open Space Plan shows this area to have important forests, major stream valleys, mountains, and critical slopes greater than 25%.  It identifies the mountains as one of four major opens space systems which are the most important to protect, as they serve several functions and provide multiple benefits. Specifically, mountains include resources such as critical slopes, scenic views, wildlife habitat, forests, unique soils, and headwaters.

 

The properties in the Pasture Fence Mountain District are included in the Mountain Overlay District and are defined by elevations of 1000 or greater, as identified in the Mountain Protection Plan. Keeping these properties in an agricultural and forestal district may help protect mountain resources, which the plan seeks to preserve.

 

Environmental Benefits: Conservation of this area maintains the environmental integrity of the County and aids in the protection of ground and surface water, wildlife habitat, critical slopes, and mountain resources.

 

Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee Recommendation: The Advisory Committee discussed this District at their March 1, 2004 meeting and recommended renewal of the district, including the withdrawal of the Morris property.

 

Planning Commission Recommendation: The Planning Commission reviewed this District at their March 16, 2004 meeting and unanimously recommended renewal of the District, including withdrawal of the Morris property.

 

Staff Recommendation: The withdrawal of the Morris property does not result in fragmentation or adverse effects to the District. Staff recommends renewal of this District with a 10-year review period and with the noted withdrawal of the Morris property.


 

 

 

EASTHAM AGRICULTURAL/FORESTAL DISTRICT

 

The Eastham District was created on October 2, 1985, and included 764.75 acres. The table below summarizes the history of the District:

 

10-02-85

District Created/764.75 acres

 10-13-93

Review/587.30 acres

 12-08-93

Addition/135.19 acres

5-11-94

Addition/178.09 acres

 

Total/900.58 acres

 

Landowners may withdraw their parcels from districts by right during a review at anytime before the Board of Supervisors takes action to continue, modify, or terminate the district. At this time, there have been no requests to withdraw from the district.

 

Location:  The Eastham District is located adjacent to Stony Point Road (Route 20) on the eastern and western sides and also along Hammocks Gap Road (Route 612) and Lonesome Mountain Road (Route 610). (See Attachment D)

 

Acreage: Currently the District consists of 900.58 acres in 18 parcels.

 

The County Code currently contains this description of the District:

 

Sec. 3-212 Eastham Agricultural and Forestal District.

 

            The district known as the "Eastham Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax map 63, parcels 1, 1A, 1A1, 2, 4, 14G, 14H, 14I, 26, 26A, 27, 28, 28A, 30F, 30G, 41A, 41A1.  This district, created on October 2, 1985 for not more than 10 years and last reviewed on May 11, 1994, shall next be reviewed prior to May 11, 2004.

 

(12-8-93; 5-11-94; Code 1988, § 2.1-4(c); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98)

 

This description has been checked against staff’s records and is accurate, with one exception:

 

·         Tax Map 63 Parcel 41A2 is not included in the code description. It was created as a permissible subdivision from Tax Map 63 Parcel 41A, and the land remained in the District, this parcel will need to be added to The Code description during the review.

 

Time Period: The District is currently on a 10-year review cycle. This is consistent with County policy of establishing a 10-year review schedule (the maximum) for all districts and staff does not recommend any changes.

 

Agricultural and Forestal Significance: 587.19 acres of the District are contained in open space easements. 136.76 acres are enrolled in the Agriculture category of the use-value taxation program, and 141.27 acres are enrolled in the Forestry category.

 

Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry: The majority of the District appears to be in forest or open agricultural lands. The District does include 35.58 acres of uses that do not qualify for use-value taxation.

 

Local Development Patterns: The surrounding area has a mix of residential subdivision lots and moderate- to large-sized farm and forest parcels.

 

Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations: The Eastham District is located within Rural Area 2 of the Comprehensive Plan and all parcels are zoned RA (Rural Areas).  The nearest Development Area to this District is Neighborhood Three, located approximately two miles south of the District.

 

The Open Space Plan shows this area to have important stream valleys and some critical slopes, is partially located along a scenic highway, and is at the western foot of the Southwest Mountains. The Southwest Mountains are recognized as a National and State Historic District.

 

Environmental Benefits: Conservation of this area maintains the environmental integrity of the County and aids in the protection of ground and surface water, wildlife habitat, critical slopes, the historic landscape, and open space.

 

Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee Recommendation: The Advisory Committee discussed this District at their March 1, 2004 meeting and recommended renewal of the district

 

Planning Commission Recommendation: The Planning Commission reviewed this District at their March 16, 2004 meeting and unanimously recommended renewal of this District.

 

Staff Recommendation: Staff recommends renewal of this District with a 10-year review period

 

 

 
ATTACHMENTS

 

A.     MAP OF THE PASTURE FENCE MOUNTAIN AND NORTH FORK MOORMAN’S RIVER AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICTS

 

B.     LETTER REQUESTING WITHDRAWAL OF THE MORRIS PROPERTY,

TAX MAP13, PARCEL 4

 

C.     MAP OF EASTHAM AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICT

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