Preserving the Land
Save Rural Loudoun’s core operating principle is that, in order to maintain our citizens’ quality of life, Loudoun County must preserve most of its remaining rural land from expanding urban development.
Without rural land, we will not be able to maintain:
A viable farming economy, which requires a critical mass of farms and farm service businesses
A booming rural tourism economy, which depends on the survival of local farming, the County’s natural beauty, and our historic legacy
Attractive bicycling, horse-riding, and walking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities, and safe spaces for hunting
Clean water, clean air and other critical environmental services
Sensitive natural ecosystems and wildlife habitats
The County has access to a number of potentially powerful policy tools for conserving our rural land, almost all of which is privately owned.
In December 2018, the County Board of Supervisors’ decided to implement a program through which the County will help to defray the up-front legal and administrative costs that landowners incur when seeking to put their land under permanent Conservation Easement. Important details for how that program will be implemented remain to be worked out.
As of early 2019, the Board of Supervisors is considering two other important land conservation programs:
Save Rural Loudoun, its supporters, and many other citizen advocacy groups are urging the Board of Supervisors to move forward with full implementation of all three of these programs as quickly as possible.
A thriving farm economy is a critical foundation for rural preservation. Local farming:
Provides direct economic value to the land, as an alternative to its value for suburban development
Is an indispensable asset to our booming rural tourism businesses
Directly and indirectly creates thousands of local jobs, both in the farm services and rural tourism sectors
Therefore, Save Rural Loudoun strongly endorses the proposals the Loudoun County Farm Bureau and other local farming organizations have made for bolstering our farming economy, including:
Establish regulations and standards to ensure that new residential or commercial developments, including their septic drain fields, do not occupy prime agricultural soils
Maintain the County’s Agricultural and Forestal District Land Use Taxation Deferral (LUT) program
Adapt the LUT program to provide additional incentives for landowners to offer long-term leases to local farmers
Adapt the LUT program to provide additional incentives for private investment in agricultural infrastructure that enhances farm productivity and increases the value of farm products, including infrastructure for processing local meats, grains, fruits and vegetables
Adapt the LUT program to support farm service businesses, including equipment and parts suppliers, large animal veterinary practices, and processing operations.
Adopt traffic safety rules that ensure that farmers are able to safely transport equipment on all roadways, especially during harvest season.
Modify taxation of farm structures to account for depreciation and the cost of maintaining older structures, including those that have historic significance.
Incorporate agricultural vocational education and training into the County’s K-12 public school curricula and expand agricultural vocational training as part of the County’s new Science and Technical Vocational Training Center.
Definitions and Further Information:
"Conservation Easement (CE)"
A Conservation Easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or a non-profit conservation organization that places permanent limits on the future development of the property in order to protect the conservation values of the land. The easement may specifically protect natural, scenic or historic features of the property.
For further information, see: (https://www.pecva.org/land-conservation/sources-of-conservation-funding/141-complete-list-of-funds/496-conservation-easements)
To review Supervisor Tony Buffington's proposal for County support of Conservation Easements, see: http://loudoun.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=74&clip_id=5557&meta_id=145399
"Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)”
Transfer of Development Rights is a voluntary, incentive- based program that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land to a developer or other interested party who then can use these rights to increase the density of development at another designated location.
For further information, see: (https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/clue/Documents/PlanImplementation/Transfer_of_Development_Rights.pdf)
"Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)"
Purchase of Development Rights is a voluntary farmland protection technique that compensates landowners for limiting future development on their land. ... Under a PDR program, an entity, such as a town or a private organization, purchases development rights to a piece of property.
For further information, see: (http://www.town.dunn.wi.us/bmos-resources/pdrfrequentlyaskedquestions.pdf)