CPA 03-06 Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan Work Session



Work session to discuss key issues contained in the draft RA Comprehensive Plan: Guiding Principles, Funding Priority for Easements, Agricultural Support, Density



Tucker, Foley, Davis, Cilimberg, Benish, McDowell






October 6, 2004


ACTION:      X                           INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                                 INFORMATION:   











For its first Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan work session on September 1, 2004, the Board of Supervisors received the Planning Commissionís recommended Rural Area Plan and received a brief overview of the Plan contents. The Board agreed to a facilitated review process that would focus on key issues of the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment.  The Board also added two items to the list of key issues to be discussed as part of the work session process.  Staff has divided the issues into two groups to be discussed at this session and at a subsequent work session scheduled for November.  The items to be discussed at this work session are outlined in the discussion section of this Executive Summary below. The issues to be discussed at the next work session in November will include density, central water and septic systems, Rural Preservation Developments, phasing (timing) of development, impacts on roads/transportation, Land Use Tax, and implementation priorities. 


The Board should notify staff of any additional key issues that should be included for later discussion. For your reference in the upcoming work sessions, the draft Plan and reference documents were provided to the Board in September in a notebook titled: The Rural Areas Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan.  Please bring your notebooks to the upcoming work sessions.




Strategic Direction 2: Protect the County's Natural, Scenic and Historic Resources.

Goal 2.1: Protect and/or preserve the County's rural character.



Work Session #2 Agenda:

I.    General overview of the draft Plan

II.    Discuss the following key issues:



I.          General Overview

The draft Rural Areas element of the Comprehensive Plan includes sections discussing the trends, history and consistency with other elements of the Plan.  Topics contained in the Plan address the many complex issues facing the Rural Areas. The objectives and strategies contained in the Plan used the Vision for the Rural Areas

and the Guiding Principles as a foundation.  The vision and guiding principles are driven by the County Strategic Plan Goal to "Protect and/or preserve the County's rural character."  The draft Rural Areas element acknowledges the stewardship of the rural land by the County's land owners who have successfully kept many thousands of acres intact.  It also notes concern for the continued trend of land fragmentation and the resultant affects of increases in population on farming, forestry, natural resources, biodiversity and scenic and historic resources.


On April 2, 2003, the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission held a joint work session to review and agree on the direction provided to staff at a previous work session on March 5.  A copy of the report is included in the RA notebooks as an attachment (next to last tab).  The policies contained in the draft Plan have abided by these directions.


II.                  Key Issues Discussion


The following are brief comments on the issues to be discussed at the work session.  References to the appropriate pages in the Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan notebook have been included.  The Comprehensive Plan provides greater in-depth discussion of each topic.


1. Guiding Principles  

(Pages 11-12)


The Planning Commission developed the Guiding Principles as a set of standards to guide the drafting of this draft Comprehensive Plan revision. They are intended to identify the major goals, principles, and considerations that should guide rural-area policies. These principles were drafted first in the review process to help guide the drafting of the Plan.  The most significant change found in the Guiding Principles from current policy is that equal value will be placed on all the elements making up the Rural Areas.


The current Growth Management policy places greater weight on agricultural and forestal resources by identifying them as "the most critical County resources and the desired primary land use in the Rural Area"  and states that of all the elements, "the protection of agricultural and forestry resources is the highest priority."


The Growth Management policy in the Comprehensive Plan recognizes the following elements that define the Rural Areas:



         Forestry resources

         Land Preservation

         Land Conservation

         Water supply resources

         Natural resources

         Scenic resources

         Historical, archeological and cultural resources


2. Funding Priority for Easements

(Page. 15, Strategy 4; Page 19, first paragraph under Voluntary Land Conservation Programs; p 21, Strategies 10, 12, 13)


The plan identifies an increased level of funding for conservation easement acquisition as a high priority for the County's budget, and recommends establishing permanent funding for the ACE program. Along with increased promotion of the County's easement programs, this funding would be used to increase the rate of land protection and more effectively prevent the fragmentation and suburbanization of the Rural Areas.


3. Agricultural Support

(Page 14)


Similar to the agricultural development support provided by the counties of Loudoun, Fauquier, and Isle of Wight, the plan proposes the establishment of a position to support agricultural development.  This position would provide support to the Countyís farmers through community education, marketing strategies, and the exploration of agricultural support businesses and alternative agricultural uses. It would also allow the County to be more active in increasing the viability of farms and in meeting the needs of farmers and foresters.  The position could take on a strategic role in the support of programs and initiatives that also support agricultural/forestal/open space uses, such as promotion of conservation easements and ACE.  A subgroup of the Rural Area Focus Group provided the attached discussion of roles this position could fulfill, including how it could compliment existing resources provided by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.  (Attachment A)


4.   Crossroads Communities

      (Page 22)


In answer to the many residents requesting that some small scale businesses be allowed to locate within the Rural Areas, seven Crossroads Communities have been identified.  These Crossroads Communities would provide opportunities for limited services to the immediate surrounding areas without creating strip development, while providing a connection to the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. A Survey of Historic Crossroads Communities in Albemarle County is included in the appendices. The Survey provides the location of each Community, photographs of structures, and the general boundaries of the communities.  The seven Crossroads Communities that have been included in this recommendation could be expanded to include other similar historic communities at a later date.  The Crossroad Communities would retain the Rural Areas zoning designation and should not be viewed as a de facto expansion of the Development Areas.  Uses that require a wider market area than that of the immediate community would not be considered appropriate for Crossroads Communities. 


            5.   Alternative Uses

                  (Page 24)


Alternative land uses would be offered to allow land owners an opportunity to subsidize their incomes, rather than subdivide their land.  These alternative uses, such as the running and bicycle tracts on Panorama Farms, would be reviewed to assure that they would not cause environmental damage to the land or conflict with neighbors.  The uses to be considered would be required to be reversible, scaled and sited to cause minimal impacts, and not bring about a demand for services.  In addition, strict development standards appropriate for Development Areas, such as parking lot paving, curb and gutter, and commercial entrances, would be reduced or eliminated in the Rural Areas.


Lee Catlin will facilitate the Boardís discussion of each of these key issues at the upcoming work session.




Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors discuss the key issues outlined above, provide guidance as to any modifications to what the Planning Commission has recommended and, if necessary, suggest additional key issues/topics for future work session discussion.




A -  Ag/Forestry Recommendation

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