COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Community Development Work Program – Rural Area Strategies

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Provide direction to Community Development on work program priorities for FY 08-09

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, and Cilimberg

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

June 4, 2008

 

   ACTION:     X                         INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

   ACTION:                                INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On February 6, 2008, staff reviewed a revised Community Development work program with the Board (Attachment A). The Board accepted this revised work program, agreed with the recommended priorities for FY 08-09, and directed staff to bring back additional information on Rural Areas Plan strategies that might be part of the FY 08-09 work program.  The purpose of this work session is to provide the Board the requested information on key strategies of the Rural Areas Plan and seek guidance from the Board on efforts with respect to Community Development’s work on those strategies in FY 08-09. 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2. Protect the County’s Natural Resources

Objective 2.1.  By June 30, 2010, increase the total combined acreage in permanent conservation easements and qualifying public parkland by 30,000 acres (50%) using public and private means.

 

Goal 4. Effectively Manage Growth and Development

Objective 4.2.  By June 30, 2010, increase protection of the County’s rural areas by implementing the key strategies of the Rural Areas Plan.  

 

 

DISCUSSION:

In March 2005, the Board established nine key strategies for implementation of the Rural Areas Plan.  Subsequently, these strategies were made objectives in the Board’s Strategic Plan. One strategy, Conservation Easements, became a separate objective under the Board’s Strategic Plan.  The remaining eight strategies were placed under an objective focused on implementation of the Rural Areas Plan.  Five of these strategies have already been considered by the Board and staff believes its efforts to be complete.  Those include: 

·         Phasing of Subdivisions.  This was tabled by the Board in 2007.

·         Mandatory Rural Preservation Districts (clustering). This was tabled by the Board in 2007.

·         Mountain Overlay District.  Creation of the district was tabled by the Board in 2007, with ordinance amendments supporting some of the recommendations of the Board’s Mountain Overlay Committee adopted in 2008.

·         Research Rural Rustic Roads.  Research has been completed and the program has been implemented with rural rustic road projects now part of the annual considerations with the Secondary Six Year Road Plan.

·         Research Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs and support TDR legislation.  Staff completed an initial analysis of TDR programs and the County successfully supported changes to the TDR legislation.

 

This leaves four strategies to be considered for Community Development’s work program.  In Attachment B, staff has provided a summary of those strategies, their current status, and staff’s recommendation for proceeding if a particular strategy is determined to be the Board’s highest priority.  Staff considers the following to summarize the important points for each strategy:

 

·         Conservation Easements – Staff notes the County is slightly below the annual milestone of 7,500 acres per year.  While the County has significantly increased funding for the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program, this strategy has always anticipated most easements would be created outside of that program. While the County is close to meeting the annual milestones, staff believes additional efforts at promotion of conservation easements are needed to help reach this goal. 

·         Rural Areas Support - This effort is limited by the current budget situation.  Staff would recommend postponing this effort until the newly created Agriculture Support position can be funded.  

·         Crossroad Communities / Alternative Uses –The current work program anticipates completion of the Country Stores zoning text amendment, which is now under review, but does not propose to start other parts of this strategy.  Until the frozen Rural Areas Planner position can be filled, staff does not believe there are adequate resources to initiate a comprehensive effort on this strategy.  For now, staff would recommend focusing on certain use decision processes such as some church activities and home occupations, where supplemental regulations for a by right use might replace the current special use permit process.  

·         Fiscal and Tax Tools - The Board has already requested this be discussed at a Board work session.  Preparing for this work session will be Community Development’s Rural Areas priority for the next month and if the Board expresses interest in moving forward with Option 2 (“Use value taxation for open space classifications only”), as discussed at the May 2008 Board work session on land use taxation, developing this program would become Community Development’s priority for the next year. Staff notes a major expansion and change to the Ag/Forest District program might require more resources than are currently available in Community Development. To illustrate by an example, if 10,000 property applications were submitted and each application required only one hour of staff time, this would be equivalent to six full time employees dedicated to this effort for a year.   

 

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

No budget impact is anticipated with staff working under the current funding.  Implementation of the Rural Areas Support would require funding of the frozen position.   Undertaking the Crossroad Communities / Alternative Uses would require funding of the frozen Rural Areas planner position.  Implementation of the Fiscal and Tax Tools will be discussed with the work session where Option 2 of the land use taxation program is considered.  

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recognizing the Board is considering modifications to the land use taxation program that include significant changes to the Ag/Forest District program, staff recommends that this effort be Community Development’s priority for the Rural Areas until that effort is completed.

 

If no further work on the land use taxation program is required after the initial work session, staff recommends the following for Community Development’s priority with respect to the Rural Areas strategies in FY 08-09:

1.       Available resources should first be used to expand promotion of conservations easements and supporting agriculture and forestry programs in the County.

2.       Remaining resources should consider alternative uses where Zoning Ordinance supplemental conditions might replace the current special use permit process. 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – February 6, 2008 Executive Summary: Community Development Work Program

B – Rural Area Priority Strategies, with Spring 2008 Update

 

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