Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 43. Agricultural and Forestal Districts Act

§ 15.2-4309. Hearing; creation of district; conditions; notice.

A. The local governing body, after receiving the report of the local planning commission and the advisory committee, shall hold a public hearing as provided by law, and after such public hearing, may by ordinance create the district or add land to an existing district as applied for, or with any modifications it deems appropriate.

B. The governing body may require, as a condition to creation of the district, that any parcel in the district shall not, without the prior approval of the governing body, be developed to any more intensive use or to certain more intensive uses, other than uses resulting in more intensive agricultural or forestal production, during the period which the parcel remains within the district. Local governing bodies shall not prohibit as a more intensive use, construction and placement of dwellings for persons who earn a substantial part of their livelihood from a farm or forestry operation on the same property, or for members of the immediate family of the owner, or divisions of parcels for such family members, unless the governing body finds that such use in the particular case would be incompatible with farming or forestry in the district. To further the purposes of this chapter and to promote agriculture and forestry and the creation of districts, the local governing body may adopt programs offering incentives to landowners to impose land use and conservation restrictions on their land within the district. Programs offering such incentives shall not be permitted unless authorized by law. Any conditions to creation of the district and the period before the review of the district shall be described, either in the application or in a notice sent by first-class mail to all landowners in the district and published in a newspaper having a general circulation within the district at least seven days prior to adoption of the ordinance creating the district. The ordinance shall state any conditions to creation of the district and shall prescribe the period before the first review of the district, which shall be no less than four years but not more than ten years from the date of its creation. In prescribing the period before the first review, the local governing body shall consider the period proposed in the application. The ordinance shall remain in effect at least until such time as the district is to be reviewed. In the event of annexation by a city or town of any land within a district, the district shall continue until the time prescribed for review.

C. The local governing body shall act to adopt or reject the application, or any modification of it, no later than 180 days from (i) November 1 or (ii) the other date selected by the locality as provided in § 15.2-4305. Upon the adoption of an ordinance creating a district or adding land to an existing district, the local governing body shall submit a copy of the ordinance with maps to the local commissioner of the revenue, and the State Forester, and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services for information purposes. The commissioner of the revenue shall identify the parcels of land in the district in the land book and on the tax map, and the local governing body shall identify such parcels on the zoning map, where applicable and shall designate the districts on the official comprehensive plan map each time the comprehensive plan map is updated.

1977, c. 681, § 15.1-1511; 1979, c. 377; 1981, c. 546; 1984, c. 20; 1985, c. 13; 1987, c. 552; 1993, cc. 745, 761; 1997, c. 587; 1998, c. 833; 2011, cc. 344, 355; 2023, cc. 506, 507.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.