‘Beautiful’ riverside land preserved

FRONT ROYAL – A piece of land along the Shenandoah River in Bentonville will be preserved as it is.

The Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday  accepting an open space easement for a 50-acre parcel off Rocky Hollow Road on Lazy River Lane owned by Margie Guy Hockman.

“It’s a beautiful property,” Planning Director Taryn Logan said. The land runs along about 1,000 of the Shenandoah River’s south fork. It includes a two-story farmhouse, outbuildings, 15 acres in hay, 20 pasture acres, and an 8-acre deciduous forest.

Hockman dedicated the easement to the memory of her daughter, Dawn Marie Paxton, and her parents, Mildred and Archie Guy.

“It was my parents’ home place,” Hockman said. “I wanted to preserve the land and its beauty in the future. I didn’t want to have it chopped up into a housing development.”

The Board of Supervisors adopted a local conservation easement program in 2009. The program allows homeowners to conserve their land in return for state tax credits. Or, they can participate in a purchase of development rights program and receive the money directly instead of through tax credits. The county does not fund the program, but allows for private donations to be used.

The program’s goals include protecting natural land and resources, promoting tourism, and preserving citizens’ quality of life.

“This has been a really good program…that doesn’t get a ton of acknowledgement,” Logan said.

Hockman opted for the purchase of development rights program, and was the first county citizen to do so. A Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services grant was matched by donations from Scenic 340 Project and the Valley Conservation Council. Hockman asked that the amount she received to not be made public.

Fred Andreae, Scenic 340 Project president, said the group is “delighted” to have assisted the county in securing its first purchase of a development rights easement. He added that the easements are excellent tools to preserve the county’s “rural character and natural beauty.”

The land still belongs to Hockman, but “it just has a conservation easement on top of it with conditions for preservation of the property. The conservation easement will run with the property so any subsequent owners will have to adhere to the terms of the easement,” Logan said.

Both Logan and Supervisor Linda Glavis thanked those involved in preserving the land.

“I would just like to say thank you, thank you very much…I think it’s a wonderful addition to our county and we do appreciate it greatly,” Glavis said.