COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name: AFD2009-00005 Jacob’s Run AF District Review

Staff: Eryn Brennan, Senior Planner

Planning Commission Public Hearing:  November 10, 2009

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing: December 2, 2009

Proposal:  Periodic review of the Jacob’s Run AF District.

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas

RECOMMENDATION: That the Planning Commission recommend renewal of the District for another 10-year period.

 

 

Petition: Review of the Jacob’s Run District: Periodic (10-year) review of the Jacob’s Run Agricultural & Forestal District, as required in Section 15.2-4311 of the Code of Virginia. The district includes the properties described as Tax Map 18, Parcel 40F; Tax Map 19, Parcels 25 and 25A; Tax Map 31, Parcels 8, 8E, 16, 16B, 23, 23D, 23D2, 23K, 44C, 45, 45B, and 45C. The district includes a total of 1,235.178 acres. The area is designated as Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan and the included properties are zoned RA Rural Areas.

 

Purpose

 

The County’s Comprehensive Plan identifies Albemarle County’s Agricultural and Forestal Districts Program (the “AFD Program”) as one of several voluntary programs available to landowners that “encourage the protection of prime agricultural soils and working farms from nonagricultural development.”  The AFD Program is an important voluntary land protection measure.  By State Law and the County Code, the purposes of the AFD Program are to:

 

·         Conserve and protect agricultural and forestal lands for the production of food and other agricultural and forestal products;

 

·         Conserve and protect agricultural and forestal lands as valued natural and ecological resources which provide essential open spaces for clear air sheds, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, as well as for aesthetic purposes; and

 

·         Provide a means by which agricultural and forestal lands may be protected and enhanced as a viable segment of the State and local economies, and as important economic and environmental resources. 

 

 

Effects of an Agricultural and Forestal District

 

The placement of land in an Agricultural and Forestal District has the following effects:

 

1.   Prohibition of development to more intensive use.  As a condition to creation of the district, no parcel within the district may be developed to a use more intensive than that existing on the date of creation of the district, other than uses resulting in more intensive agricultural or forestal production, without the prior approval of the Board of Supervisors.  The meaning of “development to a more intensive use” is defined in County Code § 3-202. 

 

2.   Applicability of Comprehensive Plan and Zoning and Subdivision ordinances.  The Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances apply within a district to the extent they do not conflict with any conditions of creation or continuation of the district, or the purposes of the AFD Program. 

 

3.   Limitation on restricting or regulating certain agricultural and forestal farm activities.  The County may not unreasonably restrict or regulate by ordinance farm structures or agricultural and forestal practices that are contrary to the purposes of the AFD Program unless the restriction or regulation is directly related to public health and safety.  However, the County may regulate the processing or retail sales of agricultural or forestal products or structures in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and County ordinances.

 

4.   Consideration of district in taking certain actions.  The County must consider the existence of a district and the purposes of the AFD Program in actions pertaining to the Comprehensive Plan, its land use ordinances, and other land use-related decisions and procedures affecting parcels of land adjacent to a district.

 

5.   Availability of land use value assessment.  Land within a district devoted to agricultural or forestal production qualifies for land use value assessment if the requirements for such an assessment under State law are satisfied.  Placing land within a district is one of three ways in which land devoted to open space use may qualify for land use value assessment if the requirements for such an assessment under State law are satisfied.

 

6.   Review of proposals by agencies of the Commonwealth, political subdivisions and public service corporations to acquire land in district.  The Board of Supervisors must review any proposal by an agency of the Commonwealth, political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or public service corporation to acquire land in a district.  The purpose of the Board’s review is to determine: (i) the effect the action would have upon the preservation and enhancement of agriculture and forestry and agricultural and forestal resources within the district; and (ii) the necessity of the proposed action to provide service to the public in the most economical and practicable manner. 

 

7.   Parcel created by division remains in district.  A parcel created from the permitted division of land within a district continues to be enrolled in the district.

 

8.   Prohibition of certain service-related assessments and tax levies.  Land used primarily for agricultural or forestal production may not be subjected to benefit assessments or special tax levies by a special district for sewer, water or electricity or for nonfarm or nonforest drainage on the basis of frontage, acreage or value.  There are two exceptions: (a) the assessment or levy was imposed prior to the formation of the district; or (b) the assessment or levy is imposed on a lot not exceeding one-half acre surrounding any dwelling or nonfarm structure located on the land.

 

In general, a district may have a stabilizing effect on land use.  The landowners 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, forestal or open space uses if they do not anticipate development of adjacent lands.

 

Periodic Review of Agricultural and Forestal Districts

 

A district may continue indefinitely, but it must be reviewed by the County every 10 years to determine whether the district should be continued.  Before being considered by the Board of Supervisors, a district is reviewed by the County’s Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission.  Both the Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission provide recommendations to the Board as to whether the district should be terminated, modified or continued.

 

Once it has received the recommendations of the Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission, the Board conducts a public hearing.  After the public hearing, the Board may terminate, modify or continue the district.  If the Board continues the district, it may impose conditions on the district different from those imposed on the district when it was created or last reviewed.  Landowners within a district receive notice of this process, including notice of any proposed different conditions. 

 

When a district is reviewed, land within the district may be withdrawn at the owner’s discretion by filing a written notice with the Board at any time before the Board acts to continue, modify, or terminate the district.

 

Unless the district is modified or terminated by the Board, the district continues as originally constituted, with the same conditions and time period before the next review as were established when the district was created or last reviewed.  If the Board terminates the district, the land within the terminated district is subject to and liable for roll-back taxes under Virginia Code § 58.1-3237 and the lands are no longer subject to the benefits and obligations described in the “Effects” section above.

 

AFD 2009-5 Jacob’s Run District Review

 

The Albemarle County Code currently contains this description of the Jacob’s Run District:

 

Sec. 3-218 Jacobs Run Agricultural and Forestal District.

The district known as the "Jacobs Run Agricultural and Forestal District" consists of the following described properties: Tax map 19, parcels 25, 25A; tax map 31, parcels 8, 16, 16B, 23 (part), 23D (part), 44C, 45, 45B, 45C. This district, created on January 6, 1988 for not more than 6 years, since amended to continue for not more than 10 years and last reviewed on April 19, 2000, shall next be reviewed prior to January 6, 2010.

(3-2-94; Code 1988, § 2.1-4(i); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98; Ord. 00-3(1), 4-19-00)

 

The parcels in the District are located in three general areas: 1) a cluster of parcels north and east of Quail Ridge circle; 2) a second large parcel south of Link Evans Lane and east of Happy Hollow Road; and 3) a small cluster of parcels northwest of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (see Attachment A). The first cluster of parcels is located in the North Fork Rivanna watershed, and the second large parcel and third cluster are located in the South Fork Rivanna watershed. While the third cluster of parcels is characterized by large farms, the first cluster and the second large parcel are primarily forested.

 

The District was created in 1988, and originally included 625 acres. In 1989, 5 parcels and 695 more acres were added, and in 2004 one parcel and 23 more acres were added. However, during the 1996 review, 108 acres were removed. The District now includes 15 parcels and 1,235 acres.

 

Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: Of the 1,235 acres that comprise the Jacob’s Run District, 495 acres are enrolled in the Agricultural category of the land-use taxation program, while 443 acres are enrolled in the Forestry category. Enrollment in these tax categories is an indicator of active rural land uses.

 

Land Use other than Agriculture and Forestry: In addition to agricultural and forestal uses, the Jacob’s Run District includes approximately 14 dwellings.

 

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

 

Comprehensive Plan Designation and Zoning Districts: The Jacob’s Run District is entirely designated as Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan, and the parcels included in the District are zoned RA Rural Areas. Several tracts of land in between the three clusters of parcels are zoned Village Residential, Planned Unit Development, and Planned Residential Development (see Attachment B).

 

Environmental Benefits: 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, mountain resources, critical slopes, and wildlife habitat.

 

Time Period: The District was created on January 6, 1988, and was last reviewed on March 19, 2000. The Jacob’s Run District is currently on a 10-year review cycle.

 

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. Landowners were notified of the renewal by certified mail on September 8, 2009. As of this date, two landowners have requested to remove three parcels from the District, with the intent of placing those parcels in a Conservation Easement. The parcels requested to be removed include Tax Map 31, Parcels 23, 23D, and 23K (Attachment A).

 

Agricultural and Forestal Districts Advisory Committee Recommendation: On October 19, 2009, the Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee recommended renewal of the Jacob’s Run District for a 10-year period.

 

Staff Recommendation: That the Planning Commission recommend renewal of the Jacob’s Run District for a 10-year period, and for the next review to occur by March 19, 2019.

 

Attachments:

A.     Jacob’s Run AF District

B.     Jacob’s Run District – Conservation Easements & Zoning
Return to regular agenda

View Jacob's Run Additions Staff Report