COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Amendment to County Code Appendix A.1, Acquisition of Conservation Easements Program (ACE)

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Set public hearing to consider adoption of amendments to the County Code Appendix A.1, Acquisition of Conservation Easements Program, by amending Section A.1-103 (“Definitions and construction”), Section A.1-107 (“Eligibility criteria”), Section A.1-108 (“Ranking criteria”), Section A.1-109 (“Easement terms and conditions”)

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Benish and Goodall

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   YES

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

November 7, 2007

 

ACTION:               INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:   X          INFORMATION: 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   YES

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) Committee is charged with reviewing the program’s ordinance and recommending to the Board of Supervisors any changes needed to maintain the program’s consistency with the County’s Comprehensive Plan and policies, and/or to improve the administration, implementation and effectiveness of the program. 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2. Protect the County’s Natural Resources.

Goal 4. Effectively Manage the County’s Growth and Development.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

The ACE Committee has been reviewing the ACE Ordinance this past year, focusing on the effectiveness of the ranking evaluation criteria for identifying those properties most worthy of protection by a conservation easement, and the meaning of the term “division rights” as it is currently defined in the ACE Ordinance. 

 

As a result of its review, the Committee recommends the following changes to the ACE Ordinance:

·         Amend the definition of “division rights” to clarify that a division right must be actual, rather than theoretical, and explain that each division right represents the right to build a single primary or secondary dwelling. (Section A.1-103)  This amendment would codify staff’s current implementation of the term;

·         Increase from 15 to 20 the minimum number of points a parcel must receive under the ranking criteria in order to be eligible for a conservation easement. (Section A.1-107)  This amendment is recommended because the ranking evaluation criteria have been amended over the years (including the amendments recommended herein) to increase the opportunities for which points may be awarded, and would eliminate parcels from consideration that have marginal conservation value;

·         Amend the criteria for which points are awarded for mountain resources, working family farms, parcels adjoining a Virginia scenic highway or byway or an entrance corridor, and natural heritage resources. (Sec. A.1-108)  These amendments would add qualifying criteria to recognize the conservation value of various resources identified in the Comprehensive Plan, and would clarify other criteria; 

·         Add to the ranking criteria the award of one point if the parcel is subject to a professionally prepared Forest Stewardship Management Plan approved by the Virginia Department of Forestry. (Sec. A.1-108); and

·         Amend the deed of easement terms and conditions to require that, if an owner requests that the points awarded to a parcel be counted for having qualifying mountain or historic resources, or adjacency to a Virginia scenic highway or byway or a state scenic river, then the deed shall contain restrictions to protect those resources. (Sec. A.1-109). 
 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Funding for the purchase of these conservation easements comes from the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), Planning-Conservation fund (budget line-item 9010-81010-580409) and the CIP, Tourism-Conservation fund (budget line-item #9010-72030-580416), a budget previously approved by the Board to fund ACE properties with “tourism value.”  The proposed amendments will not have a direct budget impact.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board set a public hearing to consider the proposed changes to the ACE Ordinance.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Proposed Ordinance

 

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