Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Harry F. Atherton, Vice Chairman, Marshall District Supervisor

June 8, 2006

 Staff Lead: 


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator

Community Development



 Discussion Regarding Board of Supervisors’ Policy on Parcels Less Than 25 Acres in Size in the Agricultural and Forestal District 


Topic Description:

 In 1990, the Board of Supervisors adopted a policy that states that no parcel less than 25 acres in size will be permitted within an agricultural and forestal district unless: 

·        The subject property is under an open space easement; and/or

·        The subject property is part of a working farm and under the same ownership, or family ownership, of other lands which are currently a working farm and are in or being added to an agricultural and forestal district. 

In conjunction with this policy, “Working Farm” has been defined to mean any operation actively devoted to the bona fide production of crops, or animals, or fowl, including but not limited to the production of fruits and vegetables of all kinds; meat, dairy, and poultry products; nuts, tobacco, nursery and floral products; and the production and harvest of products from silvicultural activity. 

The Board policy places a more stringent requirement on smaller parcels than do the broader standards for Agricultural and Forestal Districts established by the Code of Virginia.  The Code of Virginia standards include:

  • The agricultural and forestal significance of the land and adjacent land;
  • The presence of any significant agricultural or forestal lands within the district or adjacent areas that are not now in active agricultural or forestal production;
  • The nature and extent of land uses other than active farming or forestry within the district and in adjacent areas;
  • Local development patterns and needs;
  • The comprehensive plan and, if applicable, the zoning regulations;
  • The environmental benefits of retaining the lands in agricultural and forestal uses; and
  • Any other relevant matters.

The Code further states that “in judging the agricultural and forestal significance of land . . . soil, climate, topography, other natural factors, markets for agricultural and forestal products, the extent and nature of farm structures, the present status of agriculture and forestry, anticipated trends in agricultural economic conditions and such other factors as may be relevant” may be considered. 

Because of the Board Policy, any parcel less than 25 acres in size is automatically removed from a district being renewed, unless a landowner specifically requests in writing that the parcel remain in the district and demonstrates compliance with the Board of Supervisors’ Policy for parcels less than 25 acres. Requests for additions to Agricultural and Forestal Districts are also evaluated under the policy. 

Impacts of the Policy on This Year’s Agricultural and Forestal Process 

This year, there are 51 parcels in the three Agricultural and Forestal Districts being renewed.  Of these 51 parcels,  12 are smaller than 25 acres.  The owners of half of these smaller parcels have requested that the parcels remain in the Districts and have demonstrated compliance with the existing Board policy.  No request has been received on 5 of the smaller parcels, so they will automatically be removed from the District.   For one parcel, the owners did request that the parcels remain in the District but staff, the Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission have concluded the parcel does not meet the Board policy and that it should be removed from the District.  Attached are the charts listing the parcels by category in each of the three Districts.  

One application for addition to a district is also being recommended for denial because of the Board policy.  John and Hillary Davidson have requested that two parcels they own off Summerfield Hills Drive in Warrenton be added to the district:       PIN #6966-74-9935-000 containing 5.33 acres and     PIN #6966-84-1552-000 containing 10.00 acres.   These two properties are adjacent to a third 25.819-acre parcel owned by the Davidsons (6966-85-6353-000) which is within the Marshall/Warrenton District.  The larger parcel is not a working farm, but as it is larger than 25 acres it is not subject to the more stringent Board policy.    Staff would note that in this case, the owner could place all of their land in the District by consolidating their three parcels into one.  This is the approach recommended by the Agricultural and Forestal Committee and Planning Commission.  While historically, such a consolidation would have had significant impacts on future density, a recent text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance allows lots in the RA zoning district to be consolidated without losing density.  If consolidated, the smaller pieces could not be developed as homesites without approval of a division by the County.  Otherwise such small parcels could be so developed at any time, without penalty, even though they are in the District.  

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a work session.

Financial Impacts Analysis:

None conducted.


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

 Commissioner of the Revenue

Agricultural Development Office



1.         Trumbo Hollow District Renewal Chart

2.         Fiery Run District Renewal Chart

3.         Routts Hill District Renewal Chart

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