STAFF PERSON:                                                                                Rebecca Ragsdale

AF ADVISORY COMMITTEE:                                                       November 8, 2004

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                                         November 9, 2004

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                                         December 1, 2004




Purpose:  The Agricultural and Forestal Districts program is an important voluntary protection measure utilized in the County. It is enabled by state law and adopted by the Board of Supervisors in Chapter 3 of the County Code.  Through the program, rural land is safeguarded and the County’s policy goal of protecting “Albemarle’s agricultural and forests as a resource base for its agricultural and forestry industries and for related benefits they contribute towards the County’s rural character, scenic quality, natural environment, and fiscal health” is implemented. The purpose of an Agricultural and Forestal District is further described in the County Code, adding that agricultural and forestal lands should be protected as valuable natural and ecological resources which provide essential open space for clean air sheds, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, as well as for aesthetic purposes. 


Effects of a District:  


1.         The District provides a community benefit by conserving and protecting farmlands and forest; environmental resources such as watersheds, air quality, open space, and wildlife habitat; and scenic and historic resources.


2.         The State Code stipulates that the landowner receive certain tax benefits, and restrictions on public utilities and government action (such as land acquisition and local nuisance laws) to protect the agricultural/ forestal use of the land.  In exchange, the landowner agrees not to develop the property to a "more intensive use" during the specified number of years the district is in effect.


3.         The State Code stipulates that, "Local ordinances, comprehensive plans, land use planning decisions, administrative decisions and procedures affecting parcels of land adjacent to any district shall take into account the existence of such a district and the purposes of this chapter."  The district does not necessarily affect by-right use of adjacent property, but could restrict proposed rezonings or uses by special use permit if they were determined to be in conflict with the adjacent agricultural/ forestal uses.  Districts are shown on the official Comprehensive Plan map each time it is updated.


In general, a district may have a stabilizing effect on land use.  The property owners 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 and forestal uses.  Adjacent property owners may be encouraged to continue agricultural uses if they do not anticipate development of adjacent lands. Currently, there are 24 agricultural/forestal districts in the County containing approximately 66,267 acres which is about 14 percent of the County’s land area.


Renewal Procedure: In conducting a review, the Board of Supervisors shall ask for the recommendations of the local Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission in order to determine whether to terminate, modify, or continue the district.


The Board may stipulate conditions to continue the district and may establish a time period before the next review of the district, which may be different from the conditions or period established when the district was created.  Any such different conditions or period must be described in a notice to landowners in the district, and published in a newspaper at least two weeks prior to adoption of the ordinance continuing the district.


Unless the district is modified or terminated by the Board of Supervisors, the district shall continue as originally constituted, with the same conditions and time period before the next review as were established when the district was created.


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


Moorman’s River Agricultural and Forestal District


The Moorman’s River AF District was created on December 17, 1986, and originally included 8,035 acres. Since its creation, there were several additions and during the last review there were several withdrawals from the district. Since the last review, there have been several more additions to the district and the current total is 10,740 acres. The table below summarizes the history of the District.






District Created


















District Review






















Landowners may withdraw their parcels from districts by right during a review at anytime before the Board of Supervisors takes final action to continue, modify, or terminate the district.


At this time, there have been seven requests to withdraw from the district, totaling 432 acres:


·         Owner of Tax Map 42, parcels 25C and 25C1 (David J. Wood-Attachment B) has requested to remove both parcels: a 60.5-acre parcel (33 acres of which are used for agriculture and 28 acres in forestry) and a 22-acre parcel in forestry. These properties are located to the west of Decca Lane.


·         Owner of Tax Map 43, parcels 33D, 34, 34A1, and 34A2 (David E. Caton-Attachment C) has requested to remove four parcels totaling 44 acres, 22 of which are used for agriculture and 9 of which are in forestry uses. The properties are located along Free Union Road on the western side, near its intersection with Woodland Road.


·         Owner of Tax Map 29, parcel 15C (Edgar M. Bronfman-Attachment D) is requesting to remove a 70.2 acre parcel to create a 10 acre lot and then would like to add 60 acres back to the district after the subdivision is complete.


·         Owner of Tax Map 28, Parcel 37D (Kenneth Bradt-Attachment G) is requesting to remove his 22-acre parcel located at 3700 Millington Road; 20 acres of the property are used for forestry.


·         Owner of Tax Map 41, parcel 37D1 (Kenneth Bruce-Attachment I) has requested to remove a 5-acre parcel located on Garth Road.


·         Owners of Tax Map 43, parcels 17, 18, 18A, 18C, 18F, 23A and 23D (Avery & Edith Catlin/Thimble Farm-Attachment J) are requesting to remove 7 parcels totaling 126 acres located on Catlin Road (just southeast of the intersection of Owensville Road and Garth Road); 118 acres are used for agriculture.


·         Owner of Tax Map 28, parcel 11 (Jasper P. Davis, Jr.-Attachment K) to remove an 84.3-acre parcel located along Ballards Mill Road, near its intersection with Clark Road and Millington Road; 62 acres are used for forestry and 20 acres for agriculture.


Three requests have been made to add properties to the district totaling 192 acres:


·         Owners of Tax Map 43, parcels 16B2 and parcel 16B3 (Pelton-Attachment E) are requesting to add these parcels to the district, one is 122.4 acres and the other is 2.03 acres. The properties are located along Clay Hill Road and are under a Virginia Outdoors Foundation Easement.


·         Owners of Tax Map 29, parcel 4E (Purnell-Attachment F) are requesting to add their 12-acre parcel located on Buck Mountain Road.


·         Owners of Tax Map 43, parcels 33E and 34D1 (Bruton-Attachment H) are requesting to add a 45.8-acre parcel and 9.5-acre parcel.


Location:  The district comprises a total of 10,740 acres in the northwest area of the County and is located in the vicinity of Free Union and White Hall, with portions of the district bordering Route 601 (Garth Road/Free Union Road), Route 614 (Garth Road), Route 665, Route 671 (Millington Road), and Route 680 (Browns Gap Turnpike).   


Acreage: The District includes 10,740 acres and is the largest AF district in the County. With the requested addition and withdrawals, 10,500 acres would remain in the district.


The County Code currently contains this description of the District:


Sec. 3-222 Moorman's River Agricultural and Forestal District.

The district known as the "Moorman's River Agricultural- and Forestal District" consists of the

following described properties: Tax map 27, parcels 32, 34, 40, 40A, 42; tax map 28, parcels 2, 2A, 3, 4, 5,6, 6A, 7, 7A, 7A1, 7B, 8, 11, 12, 12A, 17A, 17C, 18, 23B, 30, 30A, 30B 32B, 32C, 32D, 34, 34A, 34B, 35,35B, 37, 37A, 37B, 37C, 37D, 38; tax map 29, parcels 2C, 7B, 8, 8B, 8E, 8H, 8J, 8K, 9, 10, 15C, 40B, 40C,40D, 49C, 50, 54A, 61, 62, 63, 63A, 63D, 67, 67C, 69D, 69F, 70A, 70B, 70C, 70F, 70G, 70H, 70H1, 70K,70L, 70M, 71, 71A, 73B, 74A, 76, 77, 78, 79, 79A1, 79A2, 79B, 79C, 79D, 79D1, 80, 84; tax map 30,parcels 10, 10A, 12, 17A, 18E; tax map 41, parcels 8, 8B, 8C, 8D, 9E, 15, 17C, 18, 37D1, 41, 41C, 41H,44, 50, 67, 67B, 68, 70, 72, 72B, 72C, 89; tax map 42, parcels 5, 6, 6B, 8, 8A, 8C, 10, 10A, 10D, 25C,25C1, 37F, 37J, 38, 40, 40C, 40D, 40D1, 40G, 40H, 40H2, 41, 42B, 43, 43A, 44, 53 (part), 58; tax map 43, parcels 1, 1B, 2, 2A, 3, 3A, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D, 5, 5A, 9, 10, 16B, 17, 18, 18A, 18C, 18E4, 18F, 18G, 18J, 19I, 19N, 19P, 20A, 20B, 20C, 2l, 21A, 23A, 23D, 24, 25A, 25B, 25E, 30, 30A, 30B, 30D, 30G, 30H, 30M, 32H, 33, 33D, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 45A, 45C, 45D, 58; tax map 44, parcels 1, 2, 24, 25, 26, 26A, 26C, 27B, 27C, 28, 29, 29A, 29D, 30, 30A, 30B, 31, 31A, 31A1, 31D, 31F, 31G, 32G, 32G1; tax map 59, parcels 30, 30C, 32, 32A, 34, 35, 82A. This district, created on December 17, 1986 for not more than ten years and last reviewed on December 21, 1994, shall be next reviewed prior to December 21, 2004.


(4-14-93; 12-21-94; 4-12-95; 8-9-95; Code 1988, § 2.1-4(g); Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98; Ord. 99-3(4), 5-12-99; Ord. 00-3(1), 4-19-00)


This description has been checked against staff’s records and is not accurate. The necessary corrections are indicated in the table below:












































































Time Period: The district is currently on a 10-year review cycle. This is consistent with County policy of establishing a 10-year review schedule (the maximum) for all districts and staff does not recommend any changes.


Agricultural and Forestal District Significance: According to Albemarle County real estate records, 3,200 acres of the District are used for forestry and 3,835 acres are used for agricultural uses, 284 acres are in open space, and 24 acres are utilized for horticulture.  About 2,920 of the 10,740 total acres in the District are under easement.


Local Development Patterns: The surrounding area has a mix of residential subdivision lots and moderate- to large-sized farm and estate parcels. Adjoining this district to the west is the Sugar Hollow Agricultural & Forestal District.


Comprehensive Plan: The Moorman’s River District is located within Rural Area 1 of the Comprehensive Plan and all parcels are zoned RA (Rural Areas). There are no development areas proximate to this district. Agricultural and Forestal Districts compliment rural area policy as indicated in the Agricultural and Forestry Resources section of the current Comprehensive Plan (pg. 105):


            Relation to Other Comprehensive Plan Policies

The protection of agricultural and forestry resources complements the Rural Area policy and the goal of resource protection in general in the Rural Area, but agricultural and forestry activities may potentially conflict to some extent with the biodiversity goal. Any potential conflicts should be considered in making land use decisions.


The Rural Area policy establishes that agricultural and forestry uses are the desired land uses in the Rural Area, rather than residential uses. Residential development in the Rural Area often conflicts with agricultural or forestry uses and has an adverse impact on the continuance of agriculture or forestry in an area. For this reason, the Growth Management goal assigns highest priority to the protection of agricultural and forestry resources in the Rural Area. In the long term, agriculture and forestry preserve open space, while development does not.


The Growth Management goal also affirms that purpose of the Rural Area is resource protection in general, for many types of resources. Maintenance of agricultural and forestry resources also provides an opportunity to conserve and efficiently use other resources such as: water resources (with use of proper conservation techniques); natural, scenic, and historic resources (with the maintenance of pasture and other agricultural land, and forested areas); and fiscal resources (by limiting development and lessening the need to provide public services to wide areas of the County).


Agricultural and forestry uses play a long-standing role in the economy, environment, and heritage of the County. The intelligent use of renewable resources such as farmland soils and timber are important for assuring an economic base to preserve rural lands. Active cultivation and clearing of land for fields or timber harvesting are appropriate activities in the Rural Area in general, and specifically in those areas designated for protection as farmlands and forests.


Protection of agricultural lands and forests promotes the goal of biodiversity by providing habitat for plant and animal species, but the cropping of agricultural and forestry products (which alters habitat) may conflict with that goal. It is important to recognize that both types of resources are important to the County’s environment, and that both need to be considered and provided for. The completion of a Biological Resources Inventory will provide more information about biological resources so that they can be adequately protected in the future. Further evaluation of possible conflicts should follow the completion of the Biological Resources Inventory.



Scenic Resources

Many properties in the Moorman’s River AF District border Routes 601/676/614 (Old Garth Road “21 Curves”/Garth Road/White Hall Road), which is designated as a Virginia Byway. A Virginia Byway is an existing road with significant aesthetic and cultural values, leading to or lying within an area of historic, natural, or recreational significance. The program gives recognition to these roads to promote tourism and appreciation of natural and historic resources. Locally, Route 654 (Barracks Road) is designated a scenic highway and part of the Entrance Corridor Overlay Zoning District. The Moorman’s River AF District along this roadway helps maintain the visual integrity of the roadway, which is an objective of the Comprehensive Plan, since parcels in an AF district will not be developed to more intensive uses. 




Historic Preservation Plan

Properties within the vicinity of the Moorman’s River AF District that are listed on the State and National Registers include Midway and Ballard-Maupin House is adjacent.


Open Space Plan

The Open Space Plan shows this area to have important forests, major stream valleys, mountains, and critical slopes greater than 25%.  It identifies farms and forests as one of four major opens space systems which are the most important to protect, as they serve several functions and provide multiple benefits.


Water Resources

This District helps to preserve important water resources. The Moorman’s River and the Mechums River flow through this district and converge at the South Fork Rivanna River. The Moorman’s River is part of the South Fork Rivanna River watershed. It has been designated both a County Scenic Stream and a State Scenic River from the Sugar Hollow Reservoir to Mechum’s River. The North and South Forks are also designated as natural trout streams by the Department of Environmental Quality. Continued protection of the Moorman’s River is an objective of the County.   


Benefits of the Moorman’s River AF District: Conservation of this area maintains the environmental integrity of the County and aids in the protection of ground and surface water, wildlife habitat, critical slopes, scenic, and historic resources.


Staff Recommendation: Staff recommends renewal of this District for a 10-year period, with the requested additions and withdrawals.


AF Committee Recommendation: The Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee reviewed this district at their meeting of November 8, 2004. The Committee recommends renewal of this district for a 10-year time period with the requested additions and withdrawals.


Planning Commission Recommendation:  The Planning Commission reviewed this district at their November 9, 2004 meeting and recommends renewal of the district for a 10-year time period with requested property owner additions and withdrawals.



1A. Location Map Moorman’s River AF District

1B. Moorman’s River AF District Aerial with additions/removals

  1. Wood request for removal

C.   Caton request for removal

D.  Bronfman request for removal

E.   Pelton addition

F.   Purnell addition

G.   Bradt removal

H.  Bruton addition

I.    Bruce removal request

J.    Catlin removal request

K.  Davis removal request

View Draft Ordinance

View PC minutes

Return to regular agenda