Project Name: AFD2009-23; AFD2009-26; AFD2009-38; AFD2009-41 Free Union AFD Additions

Staff: Eryn Brennan, Senior Planner

Planning Commission Public Hearing:  November 10, 2009 

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing: December 2, 2009

Proposal: Additions to the Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas

RECOMMENDATION: That the Planning Commission recommend approval of the additions to the Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District.





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


Sec. 3-213 Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District.

The district known as the "Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax map 7, parcels 6, 7, 8A, 9, 9A, 9B, 9B1, 9C; Tax map 16, parcels 4B, 4C, 13A, 13D, 15A, 15A3, 15E, 15G, 16B, 17, 26, 30B, 36, 52B1, 52B2, 54; Tax Map 17, parcels 8B, 8C, 17C, 18H, 20A2, 22, tax map 29, parcel 1H (part). This district, created on September 21, 1988 for not more than 10 years and last reviewed on October 8, 2008, shall be next reviewed prior to October 8, 2018.

(Code 1988, § 2.1-4(m); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98; Ord. 98-3(1), 9-9-98; Ord. 08-3(3), 10-8-08)


The District is located south of Ewing and north of Free Union (Attachment A). The district is characterized by evergreen and deciduous forest, open pasture, agricultural fields, hedgerows, as well as occasional residential and agricultural buildings.


The District was created in 1988, and originally included 1,650.00 acres. An additional 12 parcels and 763.50 acres were added between 1989 and 1991. However, during the 1998 and 2008 district reviews, 1,145.19 acres were removed. The District now includes 31 parcels and 1,268.31 acres (Attachment B).


Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: Of the 1,268.31 acres that comprise the Free Union District, 147.82 acres are enrolled in the Agricultural category of the land-use taxation program, and 426.69 acres are enrolled in the Forestry category.


Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry: In addition to agricultural and forestal uses, the Free Union District includes approximately 24 dwellings.


Local Development Patterns: The District primarily consists of large forested parcels and large farm parcels. Six parcels in the District, and many nearby, are under conservation easements (Attachment C).


Comprehensive Plan Designation and Zoning Districts: The Free Union District is entirely designated as Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan, and the parcels included in the District are zoned RA Rural Areas. A cluster of parcels located east of the District are zoned Planned Residential Development (Attachment C).


Environmental Benefits: The District includes woodland and agricultural fields. Protecting and preserving 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 Free Union District is located in both the Buck Mountain Creek and Moorman’s River-Ward’s Creek watersheds (Attachment C).


Time Period: The Free Union District is currently on a 10-year review cycle. The District is scheduled to be reviewed on October 8, 2018.



Four applications have been submitted requesting to add five parcels to the Free Union 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 Free Union Agricultural & Forestal District was created on September 21, 1988, and was last reviewed on October 8, 2008. The District currently includes 31 parcels and 1,268.31 acres. The proposed addition of five parcels totaling 240.60 acres would increase the total number of acres in the Free Union District to 1,508.91.     


The parcel, Tax Map 7, Parcel 33, is located west of Pig Mountain Road. The parcels, Tax Map 16, Parcels 15C and 37, are located north of Fox Mountain Road and west of Wesley Chapel Road. The parcels, Tax Map 29, Parcels 1D and 31A, are located south of Tasmania Drive (Attachment A).


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.


Agricultural and Forestal Districts Advisory Committee Recommendation: On October 19, 2009, the Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee recommended approval of the proposed additions to the Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District.


Staff Recommendation:

Staff recommends that the Planning Commission recommend approval of the proposed additions to the Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District.



A.     Free Union District - Proposed Addition

B.     Free Union District - History

C.     Free Union District - Conservation Easements & Zoning
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