ORDINANCE NO.  07-A.1(  )

 

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND APPENDIX A.1, ACQUISITION OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS PROGRAM, OF THE CODE OF THE COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, VIRGINIA

 

BE IT ORDAINED By the Board of Supervisors of the County of Albemarle, Virginia, that Appendix A.1, Acquisition of Conservation Easements Program, of the Code of the County of Albemarle is amended as follows:

 

By amending:

 

Sec. A.1-103  Definitions and construction

Sec. A.1-107  Eligibility criteria

Sec. A.1-108  Ranking criteria

Sec. A.1-109   Easement terms and conditions

 

APPENDIX A.1 

 

ACQUISITION OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS PROGRAM

 

Sec. A.1-103.  Definitions and construction.

 

            A.        The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and implementation of the ACE program:

 

                        (1)        Conservation easement.  The term “conservation easement” means a nonpossessory interest in one or more parcels of one or more qualified easement holders under section A.1-109(E) acquired under the Open-Space Land Act (Virginia Code § 10.1-1700 et seq.), whether the easement is appurtenant or in gross, voluntarily offered by an owner and acquired by purchase pursuant to the ACE program, imposing limitations or affirmative obligations for the purpose of retaining or protecting natural or open-space values of the parcel or parcels, assuring availability for agricultural, forestal, recreational or open-space use, protecting natural resources, maintaining or enhancing air or water quality, or preserving the historical, architectural or archaeological aspects of the parcel or parcels.

 

                        (2)        Division rights.  The term “division rights” means the number of parcels into which a parcel could be divided and developed with a dwelling and all associated improvements and utilities, counting both those parcels less than twenty-one (21) acres in size and those twenty-one (21) acres in size or greater that could be created, by a by-right conventional development under the rural areas zoning district regulations stated in Section 10 of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code, where each potential parcel could comply with all applicable requirements of Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, and Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code.  Each division right represents the right to build a single dwelling, regardless of whether it is a primary or secondary dwelling.

 

                        (3)        Forced sale.  The term “forced sale” means a sale of a parcel with unused development rights in a manner prescribed by law that is conducted under a judgment, order or the supervision of a court of competent jurisdiction, other than a sale arising from a partition action; a sale resulting from foreclosure under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia; or, a sale that is not the voluntary act of the owner but is compelled in order to satisfy a debt evidenced by a mortgage, judgment, or a tax lien.

 

                        (4)        Hardship.  The term “hardship” means an economic hardship, other than a circumstance causing a forced sale, experienced by the owner of the parcel so as to compel him to place a parcel with unused development rights for sale or to use such development rights.

 

                        (5)        Immediate family.  The term “immediate family” means an owner’s spouse and his or her offspring residing in the same household as the owner.

 

                        (6)        Owner.  The term “owner” means the owner or owners of the freehold interest of the parcel.

 

                        (7)        Program administrator.  The term “program administrator” means the director of the department of planning and community development.

 

                        (8)        Parcel.  The term “parcel” means a lot or tract of land, lawfully recorded in the clerk’s office of the circuit court of the County of Albemarle.

 

                        (9)        Retained division rights.  The term “retained division rights” means the number of parcels into which a parcel subject to a conservation easement may be divided as provided in section A.1-109(A).

 

            B.         Construction.  Because a conservation easement may contain one or more parcels, for purposes of the ACE program the term “parcel” shall include all parcels covered by, or proposed to be covered by, the conservation easement.

 

(Ord. 00-A.1(1), 7-5-00; Ord. 02-A.1(1), 12-11-02)

 

Sec. A.1-107.  Eligibility criteria.

 

            In order for a parcel to be eligible for a conservation easement, it must meet the following criteria: (i) the use of the parcel subject to the conservation easement must be consistent with the comprehensive plan; (ii) the proposed terms of the conservation deed of easement must be consistent with the minimum terms and conditions set forth in section A.1-109; and (iii) the parcel shall obtain at least fifteen (15) twenty (20) points under the ranking criteria set forth in section A.1-108.

 

(Ord. 00-A.1(1), 7-5-00; Ord. 02-A.1(1), 12-11-02)

 

Sec. A.1-108.  Ranking criteria.

 

            In order to effectuate the purposes of the ACE program, parcels for which conservation easement applications have been received shall be ranked according to the criteria and the point values assigned as provided below.  Points shall be rounded to the first decimal.

 

            A.        Open-space resources

 

                        1.         The parcel adjoins an existing permanent conservation easement, a national, state or local park, or other permanently protected open-space: two (2) points, with one (1) additional point for every five hundred (500) feet of shared boundary; or the parcel is within one-quarter (1/4) mile of, but not adjoining, an existing permanent conservation easement, a national, state or local park, or other permanently protected open-space: two (2) points.

 

                        2.         Size of the parcel: one (1) point for each fifty (50) acres.

 

            B.         Threat of conversion to developed use.

 

                        1.         The parcel is threatened with forced sale: five (5) points. 

 

                        2.         The parcel is threatened with other hardship: three (3) points.

 

                        3.         The number of division rights to be eliminated on the parcel: one-half (1/2) point for each division right to be eliminated, which shall be determined by subtracting the number of retained division rights from the number of division rights.

 

            C.         Natural, cultural and scenic resources

 

                        1.         Mountain protection: one (1) point for each fifty (50) acres in the mountain overlay district, as delineated in the Comprehensive Plan; an additional one (1) point may be awarded for each twenty (20) acres within a ridge area boundary.  For purposes of this section, the term “ridge area boundary” means the area that lies within one hundred (100) feet below designated ridgelines shown on county mountain overlay district elevation maps.  The deed restriction set forth in section A.1-109(B)(1) shall apply if the parcel is eligible for and the owner requests that points be awarded for this criterion.

                       

2.         Working family farm, including forestry: five (5) points if at least one family member’s principal occupation and income (more than half) is farming or foresting the parcel; three (3) points if at least one family member produces farm products derived from the parcel has as a secondary occupation farming or foresting the parcel so that it is eligible for or subject to land use taxation as land devoted to agriculture, horticulture or forest use under Albemarle County Code § 15-800 et seq.

 

                        3.         The parcel adjoins a road designated either as a Virginia scenic highway or byway, or as an entrance corridor under section 30.6.2 of Chapter 18 of the Albemarle County Code: two (2) points, with one (1) additional point for each six hundred (600) feet of road frontage if the parcel is subject to a deed restriction as provided herein; otherwise, one (1) point for each one thousand (1000) feet of road frontage; the parcel adjoins a public road: two (2) points, with one (1) additional point for each one thousand (1000) feet of road frontage; or, the parcel is substantially visible from, but is not contiguous to, a public road designated either as a Virginia scenic highway or byway, or as an entrance corridor under section 30.6.2 of Chapter 18 of the Albemarle County Code: two (2) points.  The deed restriction set forth in section A.1-109(B)(2) shall apply if the parcel is eligible for and the owner requests that two (2) points, with one (1) additional point for each six hundred (600) feet of road frontage, be awarded for adjoining a Virginia scenic highway or byway.

                       

4.         The parcel contains historic resources: three (3) points if it is within a national or state rural historic district or is subject to a permanent easement protecting a historic resource; two (2) points if the parcel is within the primary Monticello viewshed, as shown on viewshed maps prepared for Monticello and in the possession of the county; two (2) points if the parcel contains artifacts or a site of archaeological or architectural significance as determined by a qualified archaeologist or architectural historian under the United States Department of Interior’s professional qualification standards.  The deed restriction set forth in section A.1-109(B)(4) shall apply if the parcel is eligible for and the owner requests that points be awarded for this criterion.

 

                        5.         The parcel contains an occurrence listed on the state natural heritage inventory or a qualified biologist submitted documentation of an occurrence of a natural heritage resource to the program administrator and the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage on behalf of the owner: five (5) points; or the parcel is within one-quarter (1/4) mile of an occurrence list on the State Natural Heritage Inventory; : two (2) points.

 

                        6.         The parcel contains capability class I, II or III soils (“prime soils”) for agricultural lands or ordination symbol 1 or 2 for forest land, based on federal natural resources conservation service classifications found in the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Survey of Albemarle County, Virginia: one (1) point for each fifty (50) acres containing such soils to a maximum of five (5) points.

 

                        7.         The parcel is within the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir Watershed, the Chris Greene Lake Watershed, or the Totier Creek Reservoir Watershed: three (3) points; or the parcel adjoins the Ivy Creek, Mechums River, Moormans River, Rocky Creek (of the Moormans River), Wards Creek (of the Moormans River), Buck Mountain Creek, South Fork Rivanna River, North Fork Rivanna River, Swift Run (of the North Fork Rivanna River), Lynch River (of the North Fork Rivanna River), Hardware River, Rockfish River, James River, any waters designated as “Exceptional Waters” by the Virginia Water Control Board, any public water supply reservoir or emergency water supply reservoir: one-half (1/2) point for each one thousand (1000) feet of frontage.

 

                        8.         The parcel adjoins a waterway designated as a state scenic river: one-half

(1/2) point for each one thousand (1000) feet of frontage.  The deed restriction set forth in section A.1-109(B)(3) shall apply if the parcel is eligible for and the owner requests that points be awarded for this criterion.

 

9.         The parcel is subject to a permanent easement whose primary purpose is to establish or maintain forest buffers adjoining perennial or intermittent streams, as those terms are defined in Chapter 17 of the Albemarle County Code: one (1) point for each one thousand (1000) linear feet of buffer that is between thirty-five (35) and fifty (50) feet wide; one and one-half (1 ½) points for each one thousand (1,000) linear feet of buffer that is greater than fifty (50) feet but not more than one hundred (100) feed wide; two (2) points for each one thousand (1000) linear feet of buffer that is greater than one hundred (100) feet wide.  If the owner voluntarily offers in his application to place the parcel in such a permanent easement, then the above-referenced points may also be awarded.

 

                        10.        The parcel is within a sensitive groundwater recharging area identified in a county-sponsored groundwater study: one (1) point.

 

11.               The parcel is within an agricultural and forestal district: two (2) points.

 

12.        The parcel is subject to a professionally prepared Forestry Stewardship Management Plan approved by the Virginia Department of Forestry: one (1) point.

 

D.                 County fund leveraging.  State, federal or private funding identified to leverage the purchase of the conservation easement: one (1) point for each ten (10) percent of the purchase price for which those funds can be applied. 

 

(Ord. 00-A.1(1), 7-5-00; Ord. 02-A.1(1), 12-11-02; Ord. 04-A.1(1), 10-6-04)

 

Sec. A.1-109.  Easement terms and conditions.

 

            Each conservation easement shall conform with to the requirements of the Open-Space Land Act of 1966 (Virginia Code § 10.1-1700 et seq.) and of this appendix.  The deed of easement shall be in a form approved by the county attorney, and shall contain, at a minimum, the following provisions:

 

            A.        Restriction on division.  The parcel shall be restricted from division as follows: (i) if the parcel is less than one hundred (100) acres, it shall not be divided; (ii) if the parcel is one hundred (100) acres or larger but less than two hundred (200) acres, it may be divided into two (2) lots; (iii) if the parcel is two hundred (200) acres or larger, it may be divided into as many lots so as to maintain an average lot size of at least one hundred (100) acres, plus one additional lot for any acres remaining above the required minimum average lot size (e.g., an eight hundred fifty (850) acre parcel may be divided into as many as nine (9) parcels, eight (8) of which maintain an average lot size of at least one hundred (100) acres, and the ninth of which consists of the remaining acres).

 

            B.         Protection of mountain, scenic and historic resourcesThe deed of easement shall include the following restrictions if the owner agrees to use points received under section A.1-108 for mountain, scenic or historic resources:

 

                        1.         Mountain resources.  If the owner voluntarily requested in his application that the parcel be awarded points during in the evaluation process under section A.1-108(C)(1) for mountain protection, the deed of easement shall prohibit establishing all primary and accessory structures and other improvements, provided that one or more farm buildings or agricultural structures may be permitted within the mountain overlay district with the prior written approval from each grantee; the deed of easement also shall assure that the parcel is used and maintained in a manner consistent with the comprehensive plan and, in particular, the Open Space Plan as it pertains to mountain resources, and the Mountain Design Standards in Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan.

 

                        2.         Scenic highways and byways If the owner voluntarily requested in his application that the parcel be awarded two (2) points, with one (1) additional point for each six hundred (600) feet of road frontage, in the evaluation process under section A.1-108(C)(3) for adjoining a Virginia scenic highway or byway, the deed of easement shall require that each new dwelling have a two hundred fifty (250) foot setback from the edge of the right-of-way of the scenic highway or byway or shall be sited in a location approved by each grantee prior to issuance of a building permit to assure that the dwelling is not visible from the scenic highway or byway at any time of the year.

 

                        3.         Scenic rivers.  If the owner voluntarily requested in his application that the parcel be awarded points in the evaluation process under section A.1-108(C)(8) for adjoining a Virginia scenic river, the deed of easement shall require that each new dwelling have a two hundred fifty (250) foot setback from the top of the adjoining stream bank or shall be sited in a location approved by each grantee prior to issuance of a building permit to assure that the dwelling is not visible from the scenic river at any time of the year.

 

                        4.         Historic resources If the owner voluntarily requested in his application that the parcel be awarded points in the evaluation process under section A.1-108(C)(4) for artifacts or sites of archaeological or architectural significance, the deed of easement shall require that these adjoining a Virginia scenic highway or byway or an entrance corridor, the deed of easement shall require that these historic resources be permanently protected in the manner specified by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

 

            C.         No buy-back option.  The owner shall not have the option to reacquire any property rights relinquished under the conservation easement.

 

            D.        Other restrictions.  The parcel also shall be subject to standard restrictions contained in conservation easements pertaining to uses and activities allowed on the parcel.  These standard restrictions shall be delineated in the deed of easement and shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, restrictions pertaining to: (i) the accumulation of trash and junk; (ii) the display of billboards, signs and advertisements; (iii) the management of forest resources; (iv) grading, blasting or earth removal; (v) the number and size of primary and secondary dwellings, non-residential outbuildings and farm buildings or structures; (vi) the conduct of industrial or commercial activities on the parcel; and (vii) monitoring of the easement.

 

            E.         Designation of easement holders.  The county and one or more other public bodies, as defined in Virginia Code § 10.1-1700, and designated by the board of supervisors shall be the easement holders of each easement.  The public body or bodies who may be designated by the board shall include, but not be limited to, the Albemarle County Public Recreational Facilities Authority and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

 

(Ord. 00-A.1(1), 7-5-00; Ord. 02-A.1(1), 12-11-02)   

 

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