Ag and Forestal District
§ 15.2-4301. Declaration of policy findings and purpose.
Per the Code of Virginia, Chapter 43. Agricultural and Forestal Districts Act: It is the policy of the Commonwealth to conserve and protect and to encourage the development and improvement of the Commonwealth's agricultural and forestal lands for the production of food and other agricultural and forestal products. It is also the policy of the Commonwealth to conserve and protect agricultural and forestal lands as valued natural and ecological resources which provide essential open spaces for clean air sheds, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, as well as for aesthetic purposes. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a means for a mutual undertaking by landowners and localities to protect and enhance agricultural and forestal land as a viable segment of the Commonwealth's economy and as an economic and environmental resource of major importance.
Louisa County supports these goals and is committed to working with district land owners to preserve the rural and agricultural integrity and character of the County.
Benefits of Being Part of the Agricultural & Forestal District Program
First, belonging to an Agricultural District guarantees you will have lower property taxation, provided you meet the land use eligibility requirements, even if the County rescinds its land use program.
Second, being part of a district safeguards the rural character of the community by preserving agricultural and forestal land. It helps to continue rural land uses by sharing common goals and concerns among property owners.
Additionally, districts offer some protection from eminent domain. Acquisition of land for power lines, roadways and other infrastructure within a district is subject to a special public review process. The expenditure of public funds for non-farm related purposes in a district is also subject to a special review process.
Finally, local governments may not enact laws within a district that would unreasonably restrict farm structures, farming, or forestry practices unless the restrictions are directly related to health.
What is an Agricultural and Forestal District?
It's a way people involved in agriculture or forestry can protect their land from future development. Members of a district agree to not develop their lands for a fixed period, subject to renewal.
What are the benefits of being part of an Agricultural and Forestal District?
- Guarantee the you can keep your land in agriculture or forestry; and
- Protect yourself against new laws that may unreasonably restrict your ability to farm or normal forestry practices, unless those laws are directly related to health; and
- Provide some protection against eminent domain.
How much land do I need to establish an Agricultural and Forestal District?
Each district must have a core of at least 200 acres. This could be one parcel of land, or several parcels that connect to each other. Once the core is established, parcels of any size can join the district, provided that:
- they're within 1 mile of the core; or
- they're connected to a parcel that is already part of the district; or
- they're considered to be "agriculturally or forestry significant".
Do I have to put all my land into an Agricultural and Forestal District?
No. You can just put in a portion.
Are there any tax benefits to being in an Agricultural and Forestal District?
Not at this time. Louisa County has a Land Use Assessment Program where land is valued for tax purposes on its use, rater than its market value. Agricultural, horticultural, forestal and open space lands in the county already enjoy a reduced tax valuation because of this. Should the county ever decide to end the program, though, property in the districts would still be guaranteed this lower tax valuation, if the requirements for such use-value assessment are satisfied.
Once I put my land in an Agricultural and Forestal District, is it in the district forever?
When an Agricultural and Forestal District is created, it's set up for a fixed period. At the end of this time, any landowner who wants to can remove their land from the district. If you want to remove your land from the district before this period ends, you can apply to the county to do so. Removal isn't guaranteed.
Can I develop my land once it's in an Agricultural and Forestal District?
You can subdivide and develop your land to:
- Provide for more intensive agricultural or forestal production; or
- a family subdivion of the land; or
- to provide dwellings for the immediate family of the property owner, or anyone who earns a substantial part of their income from the agricultural or forestal operation.
- You cannot subdivide then sell your land to someone who is not a family member.
- Other types of development and subdividing are not allowed
Agricultural/Forestal Rural Preservation Committee
See current Ag and Forestal districts and learn about the Agricultural/Forestal Rural Preservation Committee. The committee advises the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors on matters related to Agricultural and Forestal Districts within the county. The committee also identifies, researches and promotes programs and projects to preserve the rural character of Louisa County.
Apply for the creation of, addition to or removal from an agricultural and forestal district using the AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICT INSTRUCTION SHEET.