AFD 2007-01: PROPOSED ADDITION TO THE HATTON AGRICULTURAL & FORESTAL DISTRICT

 

Staff Contact: Amy Arnold

Planning Commission Public Hearing: June 26, 2007 

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:  July 11, 2007

 

NOTICE OF AN APPLICATION FOR ADDITION TO THE HATTON AGRICULTURAL/ FORESTAL DISTRICT

Notice is hereby given, pursuant to Title 15.2 Chapter 43, Section 15.2-4307 of the Agricultural and Forestal Districts Act of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, that:

1.  An application for Agricultural and Forestal District (known hereafter as Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District) has been filed with the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and the application has been referred to the Albemarle County Planning Commission pursuant to Title 15.2, Chapter 43, Agricultural and Forestal Districts Act of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended;

2.  The application for Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District;  together with descriptive maps, is available for public inspection in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Albemarle County, Fourth Floor, Albemarle County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia;

3.  Where applicable, any political subdivision whose territory encompasses or is part of the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District may propose a modification.  Such proposed modification must be filed in the Albemarle County Department of Community Development within 30 days of the date that this notice is first published, (no later than 5:00 p.m., April 25, 2007)

4.  Any owner of additional qualifying land may join the application for Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District within thirty days from the date this notice is first published (no later than 5:00 p.m., April 25, 2007) or, with the consent of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, at any time before the public hearing the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors must hold on the application;

5.  Any owner who joined in the application for Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District may withdraw his land, in whole or in part, by written notice filed with the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, at any time before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors acts pursuant to Section 15.2-4309 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended;

6.  Additional qualifying lands may be added to an already created district upon separate application pursuant to Title 15.2, Chapter 43 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended at any time following such creation;

7.  The application for Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District and proposed modifications will be submitted to the Albemarle County Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee.

8.  Upon receipt of the report of the Advisory Committee, a public hearing will be held by the Albemarle County Planning Commission on the application for Addition to the Hatton Agricultural/Forestal District; and any proposed modifications.

 

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, forestal, and open space 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 64,000 acres.

 

THE HATTON AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICT

 

The Albemarle County Code currently contains this description of the District:

 

Sec. 3-215 Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District.

The district known as the "Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax map 135, parcels 13, 15, 15A, 17, 18, 19, 22, 22A, 30 (part); tax map 136, parcel9B.  This district, created on June 29, 1983 for not more than 10 years and last reviewed on June 20, 2001, shall next be reviewed prior to June 29, 2011.

(Code 1988, § 2.1-4(a); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98; Ord. 01-3(1), 6-20-01)

 

The Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District is located to the west of the town of Scottsville, beyond the intersection of Route 726 and Route 625.  (Attachment A)  The surrounding context is comprised of evergreen and deciduous forest, open pasture, agricultural fields, hedgerows, as well as occasional residential and agricultural buildings.  Scattered throughout the area are several farm/storm water ponds and local streams.  The southernmost boundary of the district includes the CSX railroad tracks and the banks of the James River.  Approximately 2,035 acres were withdrawn from the district in July of 1995.  Since the creation of the district, 146 acres were added to the district in 1998.  Landowners may withdraw their parcels from districts by right during a renewal at anytime before the Board of Supervisors takes final action to continue, modify, or terminate the district. 

  

Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: Of the 641.417 acres that comprise the Hatton District, 200.858 acres are enrolled in the Forestry category of the land-use taxation program while 410.849 are enrolled in the Agricultural category.  A patchwork mosaic of mixed species forests and agricultural fields comprise the overall character of the land use patterning.      

 

Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry:  In addition to agricultural and forestry uses, the district includes some scattered residences.

 

Local Development Patterns: Open pasture, agricultural fields, mixed species forest, hedgerows, farms, and stretches of river bottom land currently characterize the district.  At present there are not any substantial residential developments on near-by parcels, although a near-by tract of land, formerly included within the Hatton District, has been subdivided for residential development.      

 

Comprehensive Plan Designation and Zoning Districts: The Hatton District is located within Rural Area 4 of the Comprehensive Plan; all parcels within the district are zoned RA (Rural Areas). There are no Development Area land use designations located near-by.  

 

Environmental Benefits: The Hatton District is located in the Middle James River Basin, with its southernmost boundary located on the banks of the James River, within the James River watershed.  The District includes woodland, agricultural fields and rich James River bottom land.  (Attachment B: 10 foot contours and critical slopes) Keeping these properties in an Agricultural and Forestal District will help protect forest and rich farm land, which the Comprehensive Plan and Rural Areas Zoning Ordinances seek to preserve.  Conservation of this area will help maintain the environmental integrity of the County and aids in the protection of ground and surface water, agricultural soils, and wildlife habitat. The District is located adjacent to the Totier Creek water supply watershed and is located within the Piedmont groundwater province.

 

Time Period: The Hatton District is currently on a 10-year review cycle.

 

Proposal: The applicant is requesting to add two parcels to the Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District, in accordance with Chapter 3, Sections 3-101, 3-201, 3-203 and 3-215 of the Albemarle County Code, which allows for additions of land to Agricultural and Forestal Districts.  The Hatton Agricultural & Forestal District was created on June 29, 1983, was last reviewed on June 20, 2001, and currently includes 641.417 acres. 

 

The subject parcels, Tax Map 136, Parcel 2A and Tax Map 135, Parcel 14B (highlighted in Attachment B), are located near the town of Scottsville at 1200 James River Road (Route 726) west of its intersection with Hatton Ferry Road (Route 625) in the Scottsville Magisterial District.  The proposed addition of two parcels totaling 91.057 acres would increase the total number of acres in the Hatton District to 732.474.       

 

The parcels are zoned Rural Areas with agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses as the preferred land use and includes a residential density of .5 unit per acre.  The Comprehensive Plan identifies these parcels as Rural Areas; focusing on the preservation and protection of agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources, including a residential density of .5 units per acre.

 

Recommendation:  The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee at their meeting on June 4, 2007 recommended approval of the addition of Tax Map 136, Parcel 2A and Tax Map 135, Parcel 14B, located at 1200 James River Road (Route 726) to the Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District.

 

Attachments:

A. Hatton District: location and proposed addition

B. Hatton District: 10’ contours, critical slopes, and 100 year floodplain

Action letter

PC minutes of March 20, May 1 and June 26, 2007

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