The Rural Lands Plan document is a vital component of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. It lays out the policies the County uses to protect its rural and agricultural nature, prized by most of its citizens. As such, it is a document that serves as an excellent educational tool with which to inform County citizens.
The Draft includes a wealth of data on the current state of development in the RA and RC zoned areas as well as trends over the past decade or so. In the interests of making this document easier to comprehend, we suggest that the disparate data included in the sections also be placed in a data summary section, in tabular and graphic form as may be appropriate to the concepts being displayed.
Thus, a table that includes the overall size of the County in square miles and acres and the breakdown of the County’s acres into its various components (Service areas, incorporated Towns, Villages, RA and RC) would be helpful along with some comparison numbers for the surrounding Counties where such figures are readily obtainable and comparable, such as Loudoun, Prince William, Culpeper, and Rappahannock. Such a summary table would give readers a valuable perspective on their County.
An additional table that summarized the changes in each category at least over the past decade would be helpful. Finally, focusing upon the RA and RC acres, would be a table that included the general geographic characteristics of each and their overall sizes and, given that there has been some residential development in these areas, using the sliding scale and Non-common Open Spaces ordinances presumably, some indication of the number of acres so developed within the County and the growth of same over the past decade would give a beneficial overview to readers. Tables that summarized the conservation and agricultural figures and trends also would be quite helpful.
In the section of Septic and Wastewater Management, Background (page 18), the first sentence should be eliminated or substantially changed. Although the County has provided such services in the Service Districts, such should not be done to further any development other than that which is revenue positive to the County, such as commercial and agricultural development. County taxpayers should not be paying for these services or their development for revenue negative residential development. Rather, residential developers should be responsible for the services their development requires, not County taxpayers. An appropriate supporting reference to the 2015 Weldon Cooper study would be helpful. On the following page, we heartily support Policy 1.
On page 12, FTA is very much in support of Policy 1, as it is the sliding scale and non-common open space standards that are the major bulwarks protecting rural lands from residential development. As to the hydrogeological ordinance standards, we agree these should definitely be retained. Further, the current USGS study of County ground water resources should be continued to completion.
On page 13, some statistics for the PDR program are enumerated. We suggest you add where this revenue comes from and what percent of the County Tax Rate is devoted to it, in order to give readers a better perspective. We believe the relevant numbers are $0.006 out of the 2018 Tax Rate of $0.982, or that the funding of the PDR represents only 0.61% of the Tax Rate.
Finally, given the enumerated declines in the number of farmers and farms on pages 8 and 9, it is imperative that policies outlined in this draft that support farms and farmers be adopted and followed.
Comments on Chapter 8: Rural Lands Plan Draft of 5/10/2018
November 13, 2018
To download our comments in PDF format, please click here.