By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Warren County could add more than 660 acres of land to areas protected from development.
A company that owns property in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision plans to take the first step in the process to put land into conservation easement.
W.P. Associates has asked the Planning and Zoning Department to amend the comprehensive plan to include a map of current and proposed conservation easement areas in the county, totaling approximately 664 acres, located in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision. Warren County Planning Director Taryn Logan explained Friday the proposed area for the easement would add to the jurisdiction's cache of protected land. Not all of the property lies in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District, according to Logan.
The matter comes before the Warren County Planning Commission this week in order for the panel to advertise a public hearing on the request.
W.P. Associates is working with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation on securing the easement, Logan said. However, the VOF has not yet received an easement proposal from the landowner and any proposal the agency would receive must conform to the county's comprehensive plan, according to Jason McGarvey, communications and outreach manager for the foundation. McGarvey further noted that the VOF is not seeking the easement as indicated in the planning department documents.
VOF and the applicant are still working on the easement documents, Logan said. The director concurred with McGarvey's statement regarding the need for the county to approve the comprehensive plan amendment before the owners can move forward with putting the land into easement.
The county already holds easements on properties, protecting the land from future development, according to Logan.
Developers started building homes in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision decades ago for use mainly as places people could stay for short periods of time, especially in the summer. Over the years more of the properties were sold to people who made the houses their permanent homes. But while many of the lots were developed over time, still hundreds of others remain undeveloped.
The planning director explained that the land eyed for the easement contain more than 700 small, undeveloped lots. Logan said she didn't know the exact number of lots which could be developed for residential use. Logan noted some might be too steep for a house.
In the end, if the county approves the amendment and land is put into easement, the owner would retain some building rights from the total acres.
"Obviously it won't compare to the number of houses that could be there," Logan said.