Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 18, 2005

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session and meeting on Tuesday, October 18, 2005, at 4:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 235, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Pete Craddock, Rodney Thomas, Jo Higgins, Bill Edgerton, Chairman; and Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair.  Absent was Calvin Morris and David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia. 

 

Other officials present were Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning & Community Development; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Amy Arnold, Planner; Francis MacCall, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development; Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney and John Shepherd, Manager of Zoning Administration.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Edgerton called the regular meeting to order at 4:02 p.m. and established that a quorum was present.

 

Work Session:

 

Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan Implementation:  A work session to discuss and receive input on Phasing of Rural Area subdivisions.  (Joan McDowell)

 

The Planning Commission held a work session to discuss and receive input on Phasing Area of Rural Areas subdivisions. Guest speakers, who have had many years of experience with phasing of subdivisions, included: Betty Grayson, Zoning Administrator and David Jones, Chair of the Board of Supervisors from Madison County and Diana Stultz, Zoning Administrator, from Rockingham County.  Each guest speaker spoke on the experiences and challenges that their localities have faced in the implementation of phasing of subdivisions. The Commission held a discussion with the speakers, asked questions and provided comments.

 

Ms. McDowell:  I am sure you will all remember that at a joint Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meeting on this issue that one of the things that was discussed was trying to gain a little knowledge of what they were proposed to do as far as phasing and then clustering happening in the rest of Virginia.  So she looked at the survey that staff did quite a while ago on other Counties that are actually doing the things that they want and was lucky enough to get the best experience in Virginia.  So they have Madison County and Rockingham County representatives here.  This is Diana Stultz from Rockingham County.  She is the Zoning Administrator.  This is Beverly Grayson and she is the Zoning Administrator in Madison County.  Then they have the Honorable David Jones.  He is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Madison County.  She thought that they would get started with Betty and then move to David and Diana to get their experiences.  She understands that Betty started phasing in the 80ís.

 

Ms. Betty Grayson:  It was in 1989.

 

Ms. McDowell:  It was in 1989.  Diana started it in mid-1970.  So they have a wealth of experience to draw from.  Iíve already asked them to brief us as to any precedence as they go along. Iíve assured that this is a pretty informal work session and so they are all in tune with what we are doing and realize that we are just talking about it now and want their comments.  So they will get started with Betty.  They will have one-half an hour each.

 

Ms. Betty Grayson:  Thank you all for inviting us to come and share what we do in Madison County.  Our original zoning and subdivision ordinances were adopted March 29, 1974.  As time went on they could see that they were being squeezed between Green County, Charlottesville and Culpeper to the north. So the Planning Commission actually broke up into some groups. They talked about different ways of trying ways of trying to slow down the growth.  Then we came up with doing four lots in a four year time period.  They actually enacted that June 29, 1989.  The way that works is according to each individual tax parcel that you own.  If you were a farmer and your farm was comprised of four tracts, then each one of those tracts was entitled to four division rights in a four year time frame.  And, of course, the residue would count as one of those four.  So really you could have three lots and a residue. So the three lots that you develop did not have any division rights either for four years. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  If you have a parcel and cut off four lots.  Then you canít do any more subdivision of those four lots until four years later.

 

Ms. Grayson:  It would four years from the date that plat is recorded at the Circuit Court.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  O.k.  But, that is assuming that those four lots have additional development rights.

 

Ms. Grayson:  At the end of four years, right.  And, of course, a lot of that depends upon the acreage of those lots as well.  If you are in a conservation zoning our minimum lot size in conservation is ten acres.  Our minimum lot size in agricultural is three acres.  Now I will just clarify on those 4 lots in 4 years.  If you have 100 acres and you do (4) four 25-acre tracts, then that is fine.  If you have 100 acres and you want to do (3) three 3-acre lots and the residue, then you can only do 3 lots and the residue.

 

Mr. Rieley:  You canít break off 4 lots?

 

Ms. Grayson:  You canít do 4 lots and the residue.  You can only do 3 lots and the residue.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Before you get going again, can you remind me when this came into effect.

 

Ms. Grayson:  June 29, 1989 is when it went to the 4 lots in 4 years.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Interesting, so you have 12 to 13 years of experience.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Right.  Then just last year, on February 4 they were getting squeezed pretty hard and they could see that they did not like the direction that they were going in so they tried to tighten that up some more.  They actually changed that from 4 lots in 4 years to 4 lots in 10 years.  She felt that the Commission pushed around 12 years and 15 years, but they came up with 10 years.  What they are seeing is that a lot of people are taking advantage of it since it is 10 years.  They are going ahead and doing their 3 lots now and keeping their residue so that they are on the books counting so they can get three more when the 10 years is up.  Of course, in our own ordinance the family division is an exemption from the subdivision ordinance.  So that does not count towards your division rights with a family division. 

 

Ms. Joseph:  Is that the same acreage requirements?

 

Ms. Grayson:  It is the same acreage requirements.  Now with our family division we also put the stipulation that family division has to stay in that personís name for a period of 3 years before you could sell or transfer that to a different person. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Could I ask one other very basic question. You mentioned subdivisions and the conservation areas and then you have an agricultural area. 

 

Ms. Grayson:  Right.

 

Ms. Higgins:   Some counties have gone to an A-1 or a Conservation/Agricultural zoning.  Did you happen to bring a map or do you have any idea of whether it is a whole lump of the county or certain areas of the County.

 

Ms. Grayson:  The majority of our county is zoned agricultural, A-1.  We have quite a bit in the conservation zoning, but a lot of that is the Shenandoah National Park, which is 32,000 acres in Madison. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  But, the majority is agricultural.

 

Ms. Grayson:  The majority of our county is agricultural.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Is the conservation 10 acre minimum in the minor areas.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Right.  The majority is the agricultural.  They just have the one zoning in the agricultural, A-1 zone.  They donít have an A-2 or A-3.  Another thing that they are finding that is causing us a little bit of a problem in our county is when they allow people to do boundary adjustments between their properties, as long as they donít create any additional building lots. What they are finding is that if they have a pre-existing lot that theyíve acquired prior to the adoption of our ordinance, like a 2 acre lot, and they have another 100 acre tract next to it, then they are finding they are doing a boundary adjustment between that larger tract and the smaller tract and then getting 3 lots and a residue out of each one of them.  So they get more lots.  However, the Planning Commission is actually in the process right now of coming up with some proposed wording to try to take care of that to close that gap.  When they did the 4 lots in 4 years and even the 4 lots in 10 years they had relatively not much opposition to it.  They had a few people there.  But, once they found out that their farm was composed of more than one tax map, parcel and that they had more division rights if they needed them it seemed to go over better.  Another thing that they have in their favor is that they only allow 4 lots on a private road.  So if you want to subdivide in our county regardless of what zoning you are in we only allow you to do 4 lots on a private road.

 

Ms. Joseph:  So anything above 4 becomes a public road?

 

Ms. Grayson:  It becomes a state road built to state standards.  Another thing that we have on our primary highways, which is Route 230, 231 and 15, is that we only allow entrances every 600 feet from the center line of one entrance to the center line of the next entrance.  It has to be 600 feet.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Could you name those roads again?

 

Ms. Grayson:  Route 230, 231 and 15. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Are those scenic by ways?

 

Ms. Grayson:  Route 231 is a scenic highway. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  When you went back to the 4 lot limit on private roads did that not preclude someone just taking the frontage of their property and then they donít use it along the existing state road.

 

Ms. Grayson:  What we did with that, we use to have people that would do 2 on the front and 4 on the back. They actually amended that ordinance to where you have to when you put the subdivision street in that all lots touching that road have to use it.

 

Ms. Higgins.  But, if they donít touch the road they can still drive on to the existing road.  Did you ever consider going to a larger minimum lot.

 

Ms. Grayson:  In our conservation zoning it use to be a 5 acre minimum. What we were finding was that a lot of our conservation zoning is up against and adjoins the Shenandoah National Park and it was getting harder to find the drain field locations of lots on the slopes, etc.  They did change that from 5 acres to 10 acres.  They have talked about the agricultural zone several times or either making a different zoning called AR, Agricultural Residential zoning.  It has never gotten off the ground, but they have discussed it before.  To get back to the entrance regulations - and then on Route 29 that runs through Madison County they have a 900 foot entrance regulation on Route 29.  Also, in our residential zoning we have tried to cut that down as well.  They only allow up to 14 lots total in that zoning classification.  If you go to the 15th lot, then you do have to be on public water and sewer.  In Madison County, they donít have but a little public water and sewer available.

 

Mr. Craddock arrived at 4:20 p.m.

 

Ms. Grayson:  We just recently in November of last year adopted a new ordinance on non-conventional drain fields.  They have had a lot of them where it was not the traditional drain field and they had to do a lot that they call unconventional.  They adopted a new ordinance and included that in both our zoning and subdivision ordinance. 

 

Ms. Joseph:  Was it to allow them?

 

Ms. Grayson:  To allow them, but they have to be monitored like twice a year and the Health Department has to inspect those regularly and have to hand in paperwork. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Could you give us some specifics of that on what sort of a field is it?

 

Ms. Grayson:  There are so many different kinds.  That is the reason you call them non-conventional.  It is anything that is not a traditional drain field is a non-conventional and through the Health Department.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  And the way that they are policing that is just through additional Health Department inspection?

 

Ms. Higgins:  Did you do that because of the pressure that they have become more accepted? Or did you do it because people had so many unperked sites needing something?  We need to get something like that.

 

Ms. Grayson:  We did it mainly because we felt that if the property owner was buying that lot they should at least have the right to know that their system was going to be a non-conventional drain field.  So every plat that they approve that has one we require that be in writing on the plat when it is signed and recorded in the Clerkís Office.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Has that been problematic?

 

Ms. Grayson:  No, it has worked very well.  It will soon be in effect for a year.  That is the highlights.  Now they did change our density in the residential R-3 zoning.  They use to allow 13 units per acre and now they only allow 8 units.  They considered doing that in the residential R-2 and they still might do that.  It just by the State Code of Virginia if they do that she felt that there is a regulation if there is more than 25 property owners that it has affected you have to send certified letters to every property owner.  And, they have quite a bit of R-2 zoning around the town of Madison and in our Brightwood area.  And at $4.42 a letter that is a lot.  Well, I guess they will have to weigh and see if they are going to go with that or not. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  What was the impetus of the motivation for making that change to a larger lot size?

 

Ms. Grayson:  In the conservation zoning?

 

Mr. Rieley:  No, in the residential zones going from what he believed she said from 12 to 8 or something.

 

Ms. Higgins:  That was 13 units.

 

Ms. Grayson:  They use to allow 13 units for gross acreage and then they changed it to 8, which slowed down the growth.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Which means that it is a larger lot size, right?

 

Ms. Grayson:  They decreased the number of units that they would allow on that acre.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Right, that is a larger lot size, and if you have 8 units on an acre that is a lower density.

 

Ms. Higgins:  That is a eighth of an acre.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Right.  And right now in our R-2 zoning if it is not on private water and sewer you would have to have an acre and a half minimum lot size. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  What was the impetus for that?  What was the motivation for going to that change in density to a lower density in that.

 

Ms. Grayson:  They were trying to slow down the number of people.

 

Mr. Rieley:  It was just to slow down growth.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Yes, just to slow down growth.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  It was both steps in the phasing, which once again was trying to slow down the growth.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Have you all done any monitoring of the effect of this since it has been enough time since 1989 to at least look at the rate of subdivision.  Obviously, there are all kinds of intersecting forces at work.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Well, in 2003 when it was still 4 lots in 4 years we had a total of 51 subdivisions or lots approved that year.  In 2004 from the time they changed the ordinance to the end of the year they had 81.  Then so far this year they have had 68 new lots created. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  That is not dramatic.  That is interesting.  Did you think that the 81 was a result of getting in over the wire?

 

Ms. Grayson:  It could have triggered it a little bit. But she felt that people just got scared of the changes.  Again, they had to do something right away to get their feet in there and get their 3 lots so that they could have 3 more lots in 10 years.  But, she felt that it was a wave. Sometimes they get scared and they want to do something right away.  They have a couple of developers in the county that are looking at every option to get the most they can get out of a piece of property.  Honestly, they are trying to target and do something so that maybe it will go somewhere else.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Do you know what your growth rate is annually?

 

Ms. Grayson:  Not off the top of my head. 

 

Mr. David Jones:  In the 90ís they were 4.1 percent for 10 years.  Weíve picked up a little bit since then, but they were still below Rappahannock.  They were still going to be in that 5 to 6 percent range.  He thinks everybody has seen the unprecedented increase in prices.  It seems like since 9/11 the stores have gone crazy.  They have been getting a lot of pressure from there. People want to be able to get out if all of that breaks loose in DC and want somewhere to go that is as near normal that they can find.  They have seen a lot of that.  The school population has been flat for years.  Taylor Murphy has finally stopped dropping us a couple of percent every year.  Actually they peaked in school population in 1974 or 1975.  They have 2,600 children in the area under the age of 18. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  So with all of these houses being built and lots being created you are not seeing more children.

 

Ms. Grayson:  There are a lot of elderly couples.

 

Mr. Jones:   They are not seeing the children. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Are a lot of the lots vacant?  You mentioned that people are trying to have a place to go to get away.

 

Mr. Jones:  Some of them are for retirement. Some are for commuting and second homes.  It has a mixed bag.  The question on the alternative drain fields - they have learned more about alternative drain fields than they would ever want to know.  A lot of them require constant use to function.  That was one of the things.  A lot of people did not even know that they had them.  We had them in the county even before they realized that they were even in there.  But, that is part of it.  In theory if they work right they are great things.  But, if you donít maintain them and if you donít service them, then they are not worth 2 cents on a plug nickel. That is what they were trying to ensure that number 1; people knew what they were buying.  Number 2, that somebody was required by state law that if it was in there that it was provided on the end by right.  They have to provide service contracts and prove that they maintain them.  Because if not you are no better off than you were when you run the pipes into the creek 50 or 60 years ago.  You have the same regime because if they are not working right they are not working. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do you have any figures on when you are talking about farmers and agricultural use?  But, then the kind of growth that you are probably seeing is more for a second home or the northern Virginia way or whatever you want to call it.  Do you have any feedback on how it has affected the agricultural lands?  Are you seeing farms affected?  Our goal is to protect the agricultural area, which are centered on less residential use.  She did not know if they have any official record on that.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Our big farmers are still there. It has not affected them. The true farmer that was there 30 years ago when she came is still in business.  The smaller farms are being sold and right now the market is hot.  They have some 3 acre building lots selling for $150,000. For Madison County people just canít imagine that.  Three years ago you could have probably bought the same lot for $25,000. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  I moved from Madison County in 1989.

 

Ms. Grayson:  I thought that you looked familiar.

 

Ms. Higgins:  I bred horses.

 

Ms. Grayson:  I gave Joan a copy of our entire up to date ordinances so if anyone wants to see them.

 

Ms. McDowell:  It is very thick.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Is it on line?

 

Ms. Grayson:  No, it is not.  They do have it at the library or in our office.  But, we donít have it on line.  But, these are all up to date.  She may make copies of any portions that you want.

 

Mr. Craddock:  Are you seeing the big developers come down like Ryan and those guys yet?

 

Ms. Grayson:  Not in our county.

 

Mr. Jones:  They are looking, but we donít have the public sewer.  Actually, the last of the hook ups were sold 30 days ago for the one sewer plant in Madison.  Basically, if they want to do anything they are going to have to go to the CRSA, which is a three county service authority.  They will have to build the plants to RSAís specifications.  They are going to have to give it to RSA and then they will have to pay hook up fees.  They have been very leery of growing sewer.  Actually the county skewered the schools and rebuilt it on a force main size for the schools that we had plus one school down the road to deliver them.  So it would be no ability to hook on to it.  As long as you donít have excess sewer you are not going to have excess people. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  Wouldnít it be difficult to do a big subdivision with your 4 in 10 year regulation?

 

Mr. Jones:  If you are going to subdivide you have to rezone.  You have to go to one of the residential zones to make it work.  Anything over 14 lots has got to have public water and sewer.  It is required and RSW has to run it.  In other words, it canít be a private system. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  But, if someone came in with 400 or 500 acres and wanted to get it rezoned into a residential district and provide their own sewer plan that would be a nightmare that they would not want to go through.

 

Ms. Grayson:  Not necessarily.

 

Mr. Jones:  But they couldnít.  It is not allowed. 

 

Ms. Higgins: They couldnít get a rezoning? 

 

Mr. Jones:  No, they canít build their own sewer system.  RSA has got to run it. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Typically they would build it and turn it over to RSA to operate. 

 

Mr. Jones:  If they wanted that size.  But, they donít want that size.  In other words, if they refuse to take what they are submitting, it does not happen.  We donít have to rezone it to start with. 

 

Ms. Joseph:  That is the key. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Well, right.  It just depends on whatís in your Comp Plan.  You donít really have the defined development area either.

 

Mr. Jones:  Not really, other than the land around the Town of Madison. But, basically agricultural is the prime driver of what they are trying to keep open. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Well if you look at it and if you want to call it northern Virginia even if it comes down as far as Culpeper and then from Albemarle going north, that Madison seems to be in that half way point where really it is a little bit far to commute given the place.

 

Mr. Jones:  That was one of the things that concerned us with this base realignment.  I donít know if you noticed, but they moved about 17,000 defense workers from Crystal City to Fort Belvedere because they could get the setbacks from the car bombs.  What that did was open up eastern Orange and Culpeper County in commuting for 17,000 to 18,000.  Now the other federal agencies are raising cane because their people are thankful enough that they want them out of there and get them into safer housing.  If this trend continues, then the handwriting is on the wall. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  The centralization did affect some of the rural areas.

 

Mr. Jones:  It is going to affect us all.  It is just like the defense group here is talking about another 1,000 people.  They are going to import 700 of them. 

 

Ms. Joseph:  Into Albemarle, too.

 

Mr. Jones:  Yes. So they are going to build not necessarily all in Albemarle County. We are going to see a spill over on some of them. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  Do you all have a cluster provision in your zoning? 

 

Mr. Jones:  To have clustering youíve got to have water and sewer.  To cross that out into the middle of the county does not make any sense because if you have enough sewers to run to them, then infilling is what kills you. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Since you just adopted this in 2004, is there an expectation of how long this stays in place, since this is somewhat political.  Staff might not want to answer that question, not to put you on the spot.  But 1989 to 2004 is a pretty long time.  Would it be the expectation that this may stay in place for the same period.

 

Mr. Jones:  I think that a lot of it depends on the pressure from prices of land. If you look at what has happened in the last 5 to 6 years it is just about unprecedented in this part of the world.  We are still growing the value of land at 2 percent a month since our last reassessment 19 months ago. That has slacked up a bit.  But, for the three years before that it was 2 percent.  They might have to adjust it.  But, when things get expensive enough people go to immense means to circumvent the rules because it is worth their time. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do you have any programs similar to the ACE Program where development rights are purchased or people give up their rights to develop their land?

 

Mr. Jones:  We encourage the private people that are full of words and usually lacking in actions to step up to the plate and put their money where their mouths are at.  Madison County has 13,000 people.  Weíve got the sixth smallest staff in the Commonwealth of Virginia as far as County staff.  If anybody has ever done business with us, they know that we are the tightest bunch that ever walked Godís green earth.  If people want open space, the ones who want it need to pay for it because we still have got a lot of working farms. For most of these people, their equity in that land is their retirement.  It is their inheritance.  It makes a difference. 

 

Ms. McDowell:  David, tell them what you do in your life.

 

Mr. Jones:  I am a dairy farmer.  I have been a dairy farmer ever since I was 4.  I went to Blacksburg and majored in Dairy Science and minored in U.S. History.  In this business, if you donít appreciate history, then you are going to get run over and stomped.  Because of what they are talking about none of us knew if you looked at all of the natural areas down north of here.  They have been there and they have seen it.  It was done before Long Islands went through it.  The area of the milk shed around New York City has been through it.  There are variations on this theme.  But, basically you can keep open space and farms until you get to a certain point or a certain pressure, then you are either going to have to buy peopleís rights, not steal them, but buy them.  Or they are just going to bail out and move because the infrastructure that keeps farmers farming is not there. Just the pressure of the people that donít understand what you are doing makes it difficult.  But, he thought that it was a decision that people are going to have to make that basically that raises the millions of dollars to buy these rights. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Since you know everybody, which I know that you do. 

 

Mr. Jones:  Use to. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do you have any feedback on large land holders that have self imposed their own conservation easements or Virginia Outdoor Foundation easements to get the tax break?

 

Mr. Jones:  Basically the people who do that have a tax problem.  Usually they have income other than farming that drives that.  If youíre a true farmer usually a tax problem is the least of your worries. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Then you are not seeing a lot of that?

 

Mr. Jones:  Not on a true farmer.  The ones that are doing it are people who bought property. You will see it on occasion if you have a very strong entity and they are trying to make it easier for the transition from one generation to the next.  Because if you put it into easement that way it takes the IRS out of what the land is worth.  You only have one value and that is the land use value.  You donít have this other garbage to go through.  So it does simplify that if there is enough interest and a strong enough will within the group.  He thinks that there is a little realization that these conservation easements to a certain group of buyers does not matter because they donít want but one house anyway or two.  They are not looking at development.  That is the one thing that has changed, Betty, within the last 10 to 15 years that instead of the 3 acre lot or the building lot people want 10, 20, 30, or 40 acres.  They want enough to have a few horses and a couple head of cattle.  They want elbow room.  They will pay just about the same for an acre for that as they will for a 3 acre lot.  There was a farm sold 3 months ago in the county that is in the lower end of the county. There are no mountain views and it was in a hole with 60 yards of road frontage and 350 acres for $10,000 an acre.  For Madison that is a lot of money.

 

Ms. Higgins:  It is on 230.

 

Mr. Jones:  No, it on Farmerís Mill.  It is back in the bushes.  We are talking of no views of the mountains.  You canít see, unless you donít want to see anybody.  They are going to spec on it and play with it.  I donít want to cut into Bettyís time.

 

Mr. Rieley:  You can talk as long as you want to. 

 

Mr. Jones: I have been on the Board of Supervisors for 18 years this year.  I was on the Planning Commission for 8 years before that.  I came on right when the first Comprehensive Plan was implemented in Madison.  It was a unique experience in itself.  As Betty said the zoning started in 1974.  The best thing that ever happened to Madison County was the oil crisis in the 70ís.  Basically, it just kicked everybody in the teeth and all of the developers that were there went under.  It just killed everything for a number of years with that bit of luck as far as zoning wise.  He was not talking about the luck of the 19 percent interest that he paid in the 70ís.  It was not luck.  It was a pain.  It hit everybody.  But, zoning wise we did not have the accumulation of inbuilt lots that has been the pain for a lot of people.  If you look at your neighbor in Green that is what has killed them.  It was the lots that they created in the 60ís and the 70ís.  If you look at Loundon County, in 1992 they had 125 people on the planning staff.  They had a 6 million dollar planning budget.  They had 60,000 people in the County.  And yet they had created enough residential for another 40 million people.  They had created and approved enough commercial that was bigger than metro Richmond.  And he asked one of the planners, why you donít all just go home.  You know just quit.  If you donít do anything else you are looking at 300,000 people.  You could save the 6 million dollars a year.  Of course, they didnít and they are not.  But, who knows how big they will get. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  You just described Albemarle County, too.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Yes, you did.

 

Mr. Jones: And Culpeper and Orange. When we started zoning we had less than 1,000 lots and most of them were not built on.  They were Ĺ acre lots up in the mountains.  It takes 4 or 5 to hope to get 1 lot.  So we did not have the back log.  Actually what they were facing was what he called the pressure cooker type of situation.  Has anyone of you ever run a pressure cooker? 

 

Ms. Joseph:  Yes.

 

Mr. Jones:  You get the heat up and then what do you want to hear, that little hiss.  That little hiss is the building that you need to have to keep things going and not have a build up of demand that will encourage somebody to put in a 500 acre subdivision.  Youíve got to have enough building going on to take care of your current needs.  Madison historically has got a group of builders that will build between 5 and 10 houses a year.  People will sell a lot here and a lot there to meet their needs or for family. And basically it is almost like having two zoning ordinances.  One for us, and then one for them. The us was the small builder that normally gets along and did very little to get their money.  The them was for the public water, the state roads, no sewer plans, and you know did everything you can to throw in a monkey wrench. It worked well for years until the money got up so high.  Now it is a little harder than it use to be.  I donít think anybody that is in zoning will say that it is as easy now as it was 10 years ago.  Itís tough because of the knife that sets on that edge and does not rock one way or the other. That is where the 4 and 4 originally came from.  It was to try to take care of the people that are here and the ones who need to sell a piece of land.  What made it sell was by putting it on a tax parcel rather than per farm because most farms have at least a hand full of tax parcels.  Some of them have a huge number.  Some of them donít.  But, the people who just bought the land and created it, they only have one tax parcel.  They are not very happy with that.  But, the person who have been there they will have several.  That is what made it palatable.  And that is what made the 4 and 10 palatable.  I think they could see the growth coming, but they also realized that for most people, and especially for the lots of grain, you could sell a lot or two and lose 6 acres and still farm and have a pot of money to work with.  The question was asked why we donít have a bigger lot. The neighbor to the north has had bigger lots to use.  Basically you have to have 25 acres to start.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Is that Rappahannock?

 

Mr. Jones:  That is Rappahannock. I have a cousin in Rappahannock and he had hit it very sequentially.  He said that that you are either rich and move to Rappahannock or poor and born there.  There is nothing in the middle. You have very little middle class with the cost of doing business.  You either were born there or youíve got plenty of money and moved.  Weíve been blessed by having a very wide diversity in people. On our composite index there is a pile of rich people in Madison.  He was not one of them, but there are some somewhere running around.  The index has jumped up considerably in the last couple of years.  But, they do have a wide variation.  That is one of the challenges that they are looking at now.  They try to control growth.  They try to hold things back. It is what it has done to the cost of that initial house. They are not the only ones.  I am not preaching anything that you are not seeing everyday.  It is how the people that are born there and their children, unless they have got family or know somebody that will cut them a break, do they get started.  How do you justify spending $179,000 for a 1,000 foot house that 25 years ago was a single-wide trailer.  It had a roof put on it and then adds about 400 feet on .9 of an acre.  It sold 6 months ago.  It is a nice place. It is neat.  It has a good view of the mountains. But, the heart of it is a 25 year old single-wide trailer for $179,000.  For starter homes, they have got one group that builds with one design of house and that is all he has built for 10 years.  You either like his house and foot design or you donít buy his house. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Is that $179,000, too?

 

Mr. Jones:  I expect it is $175,000.  It has not been that long ago that they were selling for $35,000 and $40,000.  But, I mean that is the two edged sword. But, what they have seen is where people supposedly made it a little bit looser where you could get more density and affordable housing.  But, it did not change the price of the house.  It is still just as high as everybody elseís.  It has just got more of them.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Yes and the justification is that if you put in some affordable housing, then you have to jack up the cost of all of the rest of the houses in the area.

 

Mr. Jones:  So it is not really, so what are you accomplishing?

 

Ms. Joseph:  I donít know.

 

Mr. Jones:  Our, I guess, our thought on this is that basically everything that a County does you think you are getting ahead, but basically you are on a treadmill.  You might get a step on that treadmill.  Has anybody got an electric treadmill to walk on? You get your first step and you think you have made some progress and then you settle in on the middle. The question is do you want to walk on the treadmill or do you want to jog on the treadmill or do you want to run on that treadmill.  I am getting to the point in age that I like walking mostly.  As we call it moseying.   I am not much on running anymore.  That is just a question on the County.  If you donít watch yourself, because you are not going to get ahead anyway, the question is how hard you want to work to save your land.  We are trying to walk.  That is our point and it has been for going on 25 years.  So we want to walk in Madison.  We want a great place to live.  It is going to change and it is going to evolve, but I would rather have evolution and it sort of gradually change.  We will adapt to it rather than just quantum leaps that you get if you bring in 700 houses in one fell swoop.  That is what just drives you crazy.  The other thing that you need to remember on these 4 and 10ís because after 10 years if you want to divide it up again you can do it.  But, again it is another 10 years before you can do it again.  For most speculators that is not real palatable. Some of the people are planning ahead and have big enough lots that they can do it.  But, with these public roads it makes them think twice.  Most of what they are seeing is people that are creating single building lots in that 3 acre to 6 acre range.  People are going out and trying to find land that makes it work for that.  And again, youíve got to have some of that. In other words, there has got to be some lots available.  Because if you donít, and you just dry it up then you get in that pressure cooker and then it explodes and you have a pile of houses going somewhere.  The boundary adjustments have been a problem.  On family divisions if that is not the most convoluted state law that was ever written from a planning perspective.  It does not require but a 20 foot right-of-way.  I mean it just is a nightmare to try to deal with.  But, at the same time in some cases it is the only way some young people are going to get a house.  But, they did put the three years on it.  They have never been challenged.  I know other County have either that or more.  So it is something that will drive you crazy. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Is it being abused by the developers?

 

Mr. Jones:  Not so much the developers, but you have got individuals that are abusing it more so than the developers.  Because it is normally fairly small lots and they are playing games with it.  Some people are, but a lot of people are not.  But some people do.  It is like anything else, it is not the 99 percent that you have to deal with, but it is that 1 percent that will make you pull your hair out.  The other thing on densities was that he would not be surprised if you donít see R-2 and R-3 go down again. 

 

Mr. Rieley:  The lower density?

 

Mr. Jones:  I would say probably somewhere between 4 and 6 in R-3 and probably 3 to 4 in R-2.  The reason on lot size again on the cost, at 25 acres a lot you are chewing up open space that is going out of sight.  I am not saying that they might not look at it afterwards, but, if they can chew up 3 acres.  Especially at the price that it is bringing now, people can sell a lot or two and still farm.  They really have not hurt that much.  If they sell 2 lots at 25 acres, that is a chunk.  That is two big fields in Madison County.  There are only two different agricultural soils.  They donít have a real fine agric plan like Rockingham has.  He does not happen to have any class one land in the County and not a whole lot of class two.  They have a lot of good honest land, but nothing that he would call prime land.  The conservation zone is basically driven by elevation and slope and soil types. There are the lower soils types.  It is 780, 680 or 700 feet in elevation.  It is pretty steep slopes.  That is what drove the creation there.  They also went up to an acre and a half in R-1.  They were at an acre at the beginning.  But you go find that you get an acre here and you get your well and septic and then you get a neighbor that puts his well and septic in.  Then you get a lot in between, and the guy put it in and puts his house in and hits a dry hole.  Then he is bouncing trying to find a way of getting a septic in and a well site.  And, he does not have a neighbor that can give him an easement.  Youíve got troubles.  So they tried an extra one-half of an acre to just give a little bit more room to work with. They are quite a ways off from a lot of sewer.  I am sure it is going to come sooner or later.  But, again they are going to try to live with what weíve got as far as individual well and septic or alternative drain fields.  That is a Madison nightmare in itself.  There must be hundreds of permutations of it.  Of course, you never know what you are approving.  The engineer signs off on it.  But, until he comes back and gets the permit you donít know exactly what he is putting in. It is a nightmare of again in the state of Virginia one size fits all. You will pull your hair out, too, because they spent months on this.  But, again, it is not perfect although they have the former planner from Rappahannock County who is looking at our zoning ordinances now.  They are looking at mainly what do we need to change that a lot of money will make invalid. Then Mr. Chandler in Richmond will look at his proposals.  Because when you are starting to pump out the money people are talking about it.  It just changes the ball park on some things. He thinks most of it that they have got will work.  But, again, it is just coming faster than anybody ever anticipated that it would have.  We had a meeting about six weeks ago with a person from George Mason. And he does labor statistics and planning and feasibility studies for housing for all the labor or the new jobs that are being created in northern Virginia in the next 20 years.  But, he canít remember the numbers, but for every 4 jobs there will only be 1 house built.  He just ran a feasibility study in southern Augusta and northern Rockbridge for a major national homebuilder for a commute to DC up 81 and 66.  So his opinion is if the federal government continues to move federal employees out to safer housing then where can we buy them.  There is pressure in this particular area.  What Charlottesville, the Research Center and the Defense Center are doing he does not see any change except that the pressure is going to get hotter.  That is what he does for a living and if you take out a 100 pound bag of salt and pinch as needed.  With that he is about done.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  His projection again, could you clarify that.

 

Mr. Jones:  I canít remember the total jobs.  But, the bottom line was that there was bunch of new jobs being created. What they are going to find is that there are areas in northern Virginia that are going to build out in the next 20 years.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  So the new jobs are in the Washington Metropolitan area.

 

Mr. Jones:  This is from Charlottesville to southern Maryland.  But, basically you got a lot of areas there that are about ready to build out as far as available housing.  I am not even talking about available housing.  But, for every 4 new jobs created there has to be 1 house built on the current zoning.  The other thing that he found in the main service in southern Maryland, northern Virginia and DC was that 10 years ago we had 4 percent of the houses sold for one-half a million dollars or more.  Last year it was 40 percent.  He said that this year it would probably bust between 50 and 60 percent.  What is happening is that everybody that earns what he called an honest living, the firemen, the policemen, the school teachers, and the public servants have to move farther and farther out so that they can afford a house they can call their own. And for us it is still too much money, but it is less than they pay up there.  We have met the new superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and they have about given up on having a lot of in park housing.  A normal commute to them for a park ranger is one hour one way.  That is the standard.  If you get above that, then you have to start providing housing.  As long as you can find a house within one hour of Shenandoah Park, which is crazy?  But, that is what we are dealing with. But, it is just an interesting time to be in local government.

 

Ms. Joseph:  Does Madison use agric/forest districts?

 

Mr. Jones:  We have agricultural and forestall districts. This is the first reassessment that has really cost us a bunch.  In the past when they are talking $600 or $700 agric value and the last reassessment was like $2,600 or $2,700.  So it is not a whole lot of deferred money.   We went up to over $7,000 actual value of that. So we are looking at our adjusted rate without the forestry and land use, which would have been .38 cents.  We had to take it to .56 cents just to make the deferral.  It is a major chunk.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Now can you explain that.  Do you mean you raised the tax rate?

 

Mr. Jones:  In order words you have to equalize your tax rate.  When you reassess you canít make a dime.  In other words, if we raised a dollar on the old reassessment you can only raise a dollar on the new reassessment.  Without forestry and agricultural land use the adjusted rate would have been .38 cents a hundred on real estate.  But, because of the deferral we went from 150 million to over a 600 million deferral.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Because more people put their land in land use?

 

Mr. Jones:  No, because the value went from $2,600 to over $7,000.

 

Ms. Joseph:  It was the value.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Even though it was in the agric/forest.  Oh, okay.

 

Mr. Jones:  Because actually the value of agricultural land has gone down the last three times from Blacksburg.  Forestry has gone up, but agricultural land actually would have been $500 on the top end in Madison this last time if they had not held it where it was.  But, basically it took the .38 cents to the .56 cents.  It took .18 cents a hundred on the real estate rate to pay for the deferral or in other words, to bring in that same one dollar of actual money this year.  Then they are going to reassess this spring.  So they are looking at a 35 to 38 percent increase in value since the last assessment 2 years ago.  So you are going to look at another major deferral.  Right now they are deferring on average $43 an acre for county taxes that has land use. It is even more than that if you are in forestry.  So it may be that is something for you to look at, which we have never gone. We had one agricultural district in the county years ago that a whole farm and conservation would serve.  So they got out of it. It really links the flexibility of the farmer especially with the economics as they are.  But, in looking down the road that might be something that is going to be needed for land use and forestry use. Then you need to be in an agric district.  Again, at least that gives the county a window of time that you pretty well know that this piece is not going to change.  The other thing that they have been beating on, and the Farm Bureau does not want to hear it, is the roll back instead of 7 years ought to be 15 years. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  You see we donít even look at that.  We donít consider what the revenue of all properties is. We promote agricultural forestall for more land to go in that deferred basis.

 

Mr. Jones:  It is still cheap.

 

Ms. Joseph:  What he is just saying is that it is a good thing if it goes in and it does change.

 

Mr. Rieley:  What is our roll back?

 

Ms. Joseph:  It is five years.

 

Mr. Jones:  Well ours is seven years.  But, as you get bigger and bigger deferrals, you are looking at a huge amount.  Youíve got to remember now; we only got a 27 or a 29 million dollar budget.  That is everything.  And a couple hundred thousand dollars to us is a lot.  It did not take me long to figure out when you talk to your legislators from Virginia never talk money.  Because all we got is pocket change if you use the whole budget of if you talk percentage of your budget.  When tell them that we are rehabilitating a high school that is going to cost us one-half of our annual budget to rehab it that gets his attention pretty quick.  But, you donít talk money.

 

Ms. Higgins:  So if a lot of people or if more and more people in Madison seek to go in the agric/forestall district, the tax rate is going to go up.

 

Mr. Jones:  The tax rate is going to go up. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  We donít look at that aspect of it when people come in for agric/forestall districts.

 

Ms. Joseph:  There is also the assessment of the property that goes up.  You are getting more taxes because the land is more valuable.  They are assessing that. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Actually we donít have to go with the agric/forestall in the Albemarle County to get your land use. 

 

Mr. Jones:  And we donít in Madison.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  You have to cut hay once a year and take pictures.

 

Mr. Jones:  But that is something that you might want to look at.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do you have land use?

 

Mr. Jones:  Yes, it our agricultural and forestall land use. And some of it is abused.  But, again that is something that you might want to review.  People do play with it.  Developers do play with it.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  In Albemarle it has historically been used as a way of holding property for a period of time until you are ready to develop it.

 

Mr. Jones:  But, without it you would have a whole lot of people selling land.  I can tell you that right now.  If you look at the numbers on what it cost for an acre of pasture land versus a house on an acre, there is no comparison.  That has not changed forever.  Houses have never paid their way. The last time I figured it, it took a half million dollar house to break even on one child.  The average house in Madison with 1.8 children is 55 years to pay for their education.  So in other words, you never catch up.  There is no way for the average house.  It is not saying that everybody needs to have a half million dollar house.  Something is wrong.  But housing is nothing but red ink and space.  With that I am going to stop because I am crowding into somebody elseís time.

 

Ms. Diana Stultz:  I want to thank you all for inviting me here this evening to explain a little bit what they are doing in Rockingham County.  They started in the 70ís with having the waiting periods in the agricultural district.  At that time they only had one agricultural district and the waiting period between divisions was 3 years.  In 1985, they went to 2 agricultural districts, the prime agricultural and the general agricultural districts. Then last year we redid our ordinance and we kept both of the districts.  Right now in the A-1 district we are allowed 1 division every 5 years.  The one thing they have in Rockingham County is a non-family division that the Board of Supervisors has to approve.  And right now they probably have between 5 and 10 non-family divisions in í81 that our board has approved.

 

Ms. Joseph:  What if their board wonít approve them?

 

Ms. Stultz:  They will approve them if it is for farm workers that maybe had worked for you for a long time and you want to give him an acre of land.  They will approve it if you have a large parcel or a large farm and you want to split your farm.  But, for somebody just to come in and buy 42 acres of land, they will not approve it. Our minimum lot size in the A-1 district and AC district both is an acre.  In the A-1 if you have greater than 40 acres you canít go below 40 acres.  It is saying that it either has to be that you divide off greater than 40 acres and you keep the smaller amount or you keep 40 acres and you divide off.  You can do family divisions and boundary adjustments and adjoining transfers. But, you canít do non-family transfers.  You canít go below 40 acres.  In the A-2 district, we have 1 division every 3 years.  The beginning minimum lot size is an acre.  If you are on public utilities, then it can be 20,000 square feet development lot size.  In the A-2, any parcel of land of 6 acres or less created after August of last year and no non-family divisions. In the A-1 it is 40 acres and any parcel of land of less than 40 acres created after August of last year and no non-family divisions. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  No non-family divisions.

 

Ms. Stultz:  It depends how you do it and where you do it.  (inaudible)

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Have you seen an increase in the size of families?

 

Ms. Stultz:  No, actually (inaudible) it would be useful if they could allow (inaudible) the state of Virginia alleges it is your spouse (inaudible) because they only use it to abuse it.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  You canít do that now for your spouse. You can go vertically. You can go parents or children.

 

Ms. Stultz: Yes, it includes parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and siblings. But, not spouses. We also allow with the A1 and A2 district only one grandparent subdivision.  (inaudible)  It does not matter if you have 20 different parcels.  You can choose (inaudible) again; they were using that more to get around the Code and using it to put rental housing on it.  Then they were taking each parcel that they owned and dividing off an acre and creating a small house.  In our downgrade adjustments you can do that anytime, but if you get land in a boundary adjustment or an adjoining transfer, in the A-2 that land that you got as a land transfer canít be part of the division that came in. In the A-1 it canít be part of the original plat.  You can sell your entire parcel, but you canít use that to be part of the division.  We did that because what they found happening was that I own a piece of land and I made a division so I could not make another division so I sold it to my neighbor and he turned around and sold it for me.  Our rights of way, we allow two parcels of land on a 20 foot right-of-way.  It is a 20 foot right-of-way with a 12 foot road bed.  If you have more than that then you have to go to a 50 foot right-of-way with a 20 foot road bed. The only exemption to that is on a single 20 foot right-of-way. (inaudible) They do require that anything less than 5 acres has to perk and it has to have 100 percent septic reserve and it has to be shown on the plat when it is done.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Did you have trouble with the 1 lot minimum size getting the 2 drain fields.

 

Ms. Stultz:  We really have not had much trouble.  (inaudible)  As far as when we adopted these and any problems that we are having, let me track back on that.  We do allow the divisions to the family members.  If you have five children you can divide it off for all five children at the same time.  A-1 they have to keep it 5 years and in A-2 they have to keep it for 3 years.  We have never been challenged on that.  Our County Attorney says that they have 2 or 3 attorneys in the town and all of them use real estate and they all agree.  So there is nobody to challenge us.  We have not had a lot of problem with any of it.  When we redid our ordinance what we did was have a group or a committee of farmers, some residential landowners, some large landowners and some of the realtors to be a part of our committee.  The committee helped draft up the ordinance.  So they have not found in the time I have been there to be a problem. The only people that they may have a problem with are ones that are moving into the lake.  They canít understand why they canít just turn around and sell their land if they want to.  But, most of the people that have either lived in Rockingham County for a long period of time or they have lived there all of their lives they want to see agriculture stay for as long as they can keep it there.  We debated in the A-1 whether to go to a larger minimum lot size, but we figured if we did we would just be using up the agricultural land and they want to keep it in agricultural.  So if they go to 10 acres or 20 acres they would just be taking more out of the farm.  Weíve been real successful and as I say the people are just relatively agreeable with it.  I guess they have just gotten use to it after 10 years.  Nobody has tested it. 

 

Mr. Craddock:  With the new hospital going out where it is what is the plans for the land around it.  Particularly on Reservoir Road it looks like with that whole mess from University Boulevard over to there and then Reservoir Road with all of those apartments, it looks like almost every month they creep a little bit further out.  So I am wondering with these division rights what is going to happen to that farm land around that area.  Currently they have the golf course and that big new subdivision that came there on 33.

 

Ms. Stultz:  I think what you will see happening in that area is that you will see some businesses go in. You will have a lot of the doctors trying to get closer to the hospital once the roads are brought up to what they are suppose to be.  JMU has said that they are going to go to 25,000 students.  When they do you are going to see more housing near the city part.  Once water and sewer is brought out there the area is going to be full.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Arenít those more of the R zoning of R-2 or R-3.

 

Ms. Stultz:  R-2 and R-3 or R-1 is the single family and you have to have a 12,000 square foot lot.  R-2 and R-3 you can have 10,000 square feet, and with a duplex unit you just split that.  I think that is what you will see.  Instead duplexes, townhouses and those types of things going out there.  I think you will see all of that with the new business, commercial and townhouses.  Especially in the city I am sure it will be college students.  As you go out into the county it will be some other housing, too.  Once the utilities are brought out there all of that will happen. But, that is okay from a planning standpoint because the utilities are there.  Once the utilities are there you expect to see it developed. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  Didnít the county have a moratorium on the city utilities serving the county or has that been relieved?

 

Ms. Stultz:  It has sort of been relieved.

 

Ms. Higgins:  You have water and sewer in the city that serves in the county.

 

Ms. Stultz:  We do now.  And they did put a moratorium on it in 1985.  And that was up until last year.  The city did lift it last year, but they still have to approve each individual development and see whether they want to do it.  Some of them are approved and some of them are not.  What it was about was the hospital annexation.  And now in the state of Virginia they say you canít do it. And until 2010 the city cannot annex the county.  That was done back in the early Ď80ís and since then three times the General Assembly has extended it.  So right now the City of Harrisonburg canít annex Rockingham County.  So what is happening is that they are not bringing utilities in.  When our new Walmart went in on the south end of the town, the city would not approve utilities to it.  So the town said that they could do it.  So now the city canít annex because it has county and date issues.  So that was part of the problem that they ran into with that.  The one other thing that she didnít mention, they do have land use taxation, but they do also have the agricultural/forestall districts.  There are several thousand acres in the County that are under agricultural/forestall.  In each of those the citizens that wanted to go into the agricultural/forestall district put their own conditions into their district as to what they were going to allow to happen. And in none of those districts are they allowing non-family divisions.  So we are not going to let it develop.  It is staying as farming and there are only agricultural related businesses in that area.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  What if any benefits go back to them?

 

Ms. Stultz:  None, they just want to preserve the agricultural.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do they get land use taxation?

 

Ms. Stultz:  They would get it anyway.

 

Mr. Rieley:  We have a 10 year opportunity for people to pull out of that.  What is yours?

 

Mr. Stultz:  Ours is 7 and 17.  We just had the first ones that were done 10 years ago, which were just renewed and then we had about 2 people to pull out and several more go into it. Some of the people pull some of their smaller acreages out and left their larger acreages in.  I believe we have some people in it with 5 acres.  So it has worked well. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  So basically what you said the city can annex.

 

Ms. Stultz: They cannot.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Oh, they cannot.  And that is why they do not want to serve the connecting utilities.

 

Ms. Stultz:  The County thinks that is part of the reason.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Have you found that the 3 lot cluster residue every 4 years has had an effect on discouraging large scale subdivisions in the area.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  That is for Madison County.

 

Ms. Stultz:  We are 1 division in 3 years.

 

Mr. Rieley:  I am sorry, I meant for in A-2 and 1 every 5 years.  It is the same question if she had found that had a substantial impact on subdivisions going in.

 

Ms. Stultz:  We have, as I said, we have only about 5 to 10 non-family divisions in the A-1.  And in A-2 right now there may be 50 or 60.  Most of our divisions are for family members or to adjoining landowners.  In the A-2 some of them are to non-family.  They find that it is either about an acre or it will go up to 2 acres in 15 years.  In A-1 even the family divisions are going higher that.  In most of those what they are doing is dividing it for their children, but they continue to farm it.  So for anybody driving by nobody would even notice.  The other thing that they have done in agriculture, and this came about because our farmers wanted this, that you are allowed one residence by right on a piece of property and to put a second house on it you need 15 acres and a special use permit.

 

Ms. Joseph:  And your farmers asked for that?

 

Ms. Stultz:  Yes.

 

Mr. Rieley:  And why did they think that was relative.

 

Ms. Stultz:  People renting agriculture and putting rental houses on it and farm workers were being removed.

 

Mr. Edgerton:  The rental housing market was being supported by JMU. 

 

Ms. Stultz:  That is exactly right.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Do you think that with the growth of JMU if the city is absorbing maybe the growth that they are experiencing and it has not really gotten to the county.  Or are there major rezonings or major things proposed for the county that will absorb that protection of agricultural land.

 

Ms. Stultz:  Yes, we are seeing more people moving.  There for a while we would have a property zoned residential and it would sit there.  They did not do anything.  Now they are finding that as quick as they rezone it they are developing it as fast as the lots go on the market in the county.

 

Ms. Higgins:  So you are absorbing it as rezonings and that is how you are protecting this.

 

Ms. Stultz:  Yes.

 

Mr. Rieley:  You are having exactly the effect that our Comprehensive Plan says that we should have, except you are having more success with it.  It seems like.  What is the population?

 

Ms. Stultz: Around 72,000.

 

Mr. Rieley:  It is amazing I mean Rockingham to a much greater extent than Madison is a very parallel situation to ours, with the population of JMU and the city.  Let me ask one more time to make sure that I understand.  You have 5 to 10 non-family divisions in A-1 per year.

 

Ms. Stultz:  Yes.

 

Mr. Rieley:  That is astonishing.

 

Ms. Higgins:  It is under A-1 and A-2.  You divided the county up.  We just have one zone of agricultural.  You picked portions of the county.

 

Ms. Stultz:  What weíve done is look at the better farm land.  We knew that if they wanted Rockingham County to stay agriculture then they looked at the areas that were the best farm areas.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Do you have similar figures for A-2? 

 

Ms. Stultz: A-2 is probably 80 to 90.

 

Ms. Higgins:  How much land area is in A-1 versus A-2? 

 

Ms. Stultz:  There are probably, and I am not sure the acreage wise, it is probably about 1/3 as much as in the A-1.

 

Ms. Higgins:  So about 1/3 of the county is in A-1 and the rest is in A-2.

 

Ms. Stultz:  There is a lot more A-2 than there is A-1.  I think the one think in the A-1 that helps is that the Board does not approve those divisions of land.  What use to happen was that it use to be that you had to have a special use permit to build a residence in A-1.  And what they found out was happening was that the developer was going out and buying an acre of land in the A-1 and building his house.  It is real hard after somebody owns the property to say no that you canít build on it.  So the Board said well we want to look at it before the division is made and see why the person is dividing the land. We have had some A-1 when an elderly couple owned a farm and then wanted to downsize their house and they have allowed them to make that division so that they could build a smaller house.  But, that has slowed it down a lot. 

 

Mr. Edgerton:  Is the designation by soil types or just the production of the land.

 

Ms. Stultz:  A little bit of both, and saying that we know that someone some day might not be able to build at all.  Rather than taking each individual farm you take an area. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  When did you divide the county up that way?

 

Ms. Stultz:  In 1985.

 

Mr. Rieley:  From the Board he presumed that she was talking about anything in excess of 1 lot for every 5 years for anything.  There is essentially no by right residential development in the A-1 district.  It is zero.

 

Ms. Stultz:  There is no non-family.

 

Mr. Jones: It is the same thing as Madison. The board rules on every division of land in the county regardless of the zoning whether it is one lot or more.

 

Ms. Joseph: It sounds like you take your agricultural use very seriously.

 

Ms. Higgins:  The smaller lots protect the larger farms.  What is the total area involved?

 

Ms. Stultz:  We have 7 towns incorporated in the county, but the county is still building schools for them. We are going to need 3 new schools within the next 5 years.

 

Mr. Jones:  That is really the dichotomy that you have with state law.  It does not matter to the towns because they see it as income because they donít provide the schools.  A lot of them donít provide the infrastructure. And yet the counties are eat up by the school children and there is no way that you can stop them if they want to flood you with children, they are going to flood you with children.  Orange is going through it.  The Town of Culpeper is just getting ready to blow Culpeper County under water in the next couple of weeks because of that. 

 

Ms. Higgins:  How many towns do you have in Madison County?

 

Mr. Jones:  We have got one and it is down to 200 people.

 

Ms. Joseph:  What do we have, Scottsville?

 

Ms. Higgins:  There seems to be a downswing in the chicken farms.  There seems to be a lot of farms where the poultry operations are on market.  Is there anything on the horizon about those regulations?

 

Ms. Stultz:  I donít see it right now.  But, I think that it might because of the (inaudible) the turkeys.  (Inaudible)  We are looking at some of the older poultry houses that they canít obviously use for poultry anymore of the different things that they do in those, such as storage.  Several of those have been turned into horse barns.

 

Ms. Higgins:  There are such large numbers of them and they dot the country side.  Do you have any restrictions against manufactured and mobile homes?

 

Ms. Stultz:  They can go in any of the agricultural districts and the RS-1 District.  That is more like our little communities that arenít really a town, but they may have a store and a post office. We allow them there.  Then in our recreational residential, which is a 2 Ĺ acre subdivision that would manufactured homes.

 

Ms. Joseph:  I am amazed.  They have really made the decision that there are residential areas and there are agricultural areas and they are not really mixing them up.

 

Ms. Higgins:  Weíve talked about other counties before. Fluvanna has a conservation area. Do you have conservation areas?

 

Ms. Stultz:  We have a conservation list. (inaudible)

 

Ms. McDowell:  One reminder that they are going to have another work session next Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. to go over some of the issues that they have pulled out at the joint PC/Board meeting.  If they need any other documentation or materials, please call or email staff.  Staff will provide the information as quickly as possible.

 

Mr. Rieley:  Joan, do you know how many subdivisions we have in the rural area and the number of lots.

 

Mr. Graham:  There are probably about 230 to 250.

 

Mr. Benish:  It is probably about 800 total lots in the County per year on average.

 

Ms. McDowell:  Staff will look up that information and share it with the Commission at the next meeting divided out by acres

 

A second work session is scheduled for October 25 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss some of the other issues brought up at the joint PC/Board meeting, including phasing, clustering and public input issues.  No formal action was taken.

 

The Planning Commission recessed at 5:30 p.m. and reconvened at 6:00 p.m. in Meeting Room 241.

 

Go to attachment C

Return to executive summary