Letter to the Editor: County needs to commit to preserving farmland


The current mindset of Warren County government appears to be a desire to become a bedroom community of Northern Virginia, a proven loser for existing taxpayers.

Counties that propose growth to balance the tax base are chasing something that has never been achieved. Even those counties that pursue commercial development and push costly residential off on surrounding counties soon find that the demands and expectations for services grow. If high commercial/business park development paid for itself, Fairfax would have some of the lowest tax rates in Virginia.

Rural development is much more costly than directing growth to existing towns. Infrastructure can be provided to citizens in a far more cost effective manner when services are focused where the people live. Dispersed development means longer distances to run infrastructure to serve fewer people, resulting in higher costs per household.

Rural development displaces agriculture. Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia. Our second largest industry is tourism. Tourists come to see our historic resources and our pastoral landscapes, making agriculture and tourism truly symbiotic and the best future for Warren County.

This does not mean no development. It means planning for placing development where it belongs and accommodating residential growth rather than recruiting it. It means commitment to preservation of farmland in Warren County’s National Register Rural Historic District, one of the greatest concentrations of conservation easements — and pastoral landscapes — in the Shenandoah Valley.

What county in the nation has lowered taxes while chasing residential growth?

Where in Virginia is the county that has grown its way to lower taxes?

Warren County is in trouble because it fails to capitalize primary assets. The county seal bears an emblem of sheaves of wheat inscribed with the motto “Plenty.” Beneath this emblem the current governing authority convened to cast a unanimous vote condoning irreversible damage to farmland it is charged to protect. Warren County boasts the first designated agricultural district established in Virginia.

Barbara Frank, Warren County