Agricultural & Forestal Districts

agricultural landOne way that Prince William County encourages the preservation of land devoted to agricultural and forestal production is through Agricultural and Forestal Districts (AFD).

The Prince William County Agricultural and Forestal Districts Advisory Committee is appointed by the Board of County Supervisors (Board) to advise the Planning Commission and the Board and assist in creating, reviewing, modifying, continuing or terminating AFDs in the County. 

On March 2, 2021, the Board of County Supervisors (Board) completed the 2017 Review of Agricultural and Forestal Districts with the adoption of AFD2017-00001. The review resulted in the termination of AFD79-1 and AFD80-1, and the modification of AFD91-1 based on the responses provided by property owners in the districts. The modified AFD91-1 reflects all parcels that submitted a request to remain in the district or did not submit a written request to be removed as reflected in Ord. No. 21-18. More than ±1,237 acres in Prince William County are currently located in the modified AFD91-1 as reflected on the map. The Board also established a review of AFD91-1 and any subsequently created districts in four years from March 2, 2021, the effective date of this ordinance adoption, and no later than ten years from March 2, 2021, in compliance with VA State Code 15.2-4311.

Agricultural and Forestal Districts provide numerous benefits including:

  1. Use-Value Assessment – Properties included in the AFD may qualify for an agricultural or forestal use-value assessment as long as the requirements for the Use Value Assessment Program are satisfied.
  2. Unreasonable Restrictions – The County cannot enact local laws or ordinances within a district that would unreasonably restrict or regulate farm structures or farming and forestry practices. Such as a noise ordinance that would prevent harvesting.
  3. Land Uses – The Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance and other policies regulating land and land use decisions regarding parcels adjacent to an AFD shall not conflict with the purposes of the AFD regulations.
  4. Commonwealth Encouragement – Commonwealth agencies shall encourage the maintenance of farming and forestry in AFD in their administrative regulations and procedures including provisions applicable to obtaining federal grants, loans or other funding.
  5. Tax District Limitations – Special tax districts for sewer, water or electricity are limited in the AFD.
  6. Routes for New Infrastructure (e.g., roads, transmission lines) – Commonwealth or County proposals for land acquisition or construction within an AFD must consider alternatives that avoid the AFD, and the proposals are subject to review by the Planning Commission and Board of County Supervisors at a public hearing.

For more information regarding Agricultural and Forestal Districts see §15.2-4300 of the Code of Virginia.

A property owner may submit an application to the County to include their land in an existing district or to create a new district. New districts must contain one or more contiguous parcels totaling at least 200 acres. An eligible parcel may be added to a district if its nearest boundary lies within one mile of the core's boundary; if it adjoins such a parcel; or if the Board of Supervisors find, in consultation with the Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission, that the parcel contains agriculturally and forestally significant land.

*At its meeting on January 23, 2018, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors passed a resolution to adopt a revised Formation and Extension of Agricultural Forestal District Fee in the amount of $50 to create a new Agricultural and Forestal District or to join an existing District.

No fee is necessary to file a written request to withdraw land from an Agricultural and Forestal District.

Review of these applications takes approximately four to six months and includes hearings before the Agricultural and Forestal Districts Advisory Committee, the Planning Commission, and the Board of County Supervisors.

The Long Range Division of the Planning Office maintains a map of the existing Agricultural and Forestal Districts and data concerning parcel size & ownership.

Questions or comments:
Please note that under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, comments, including any personally identifiable information that is included in the comments, are subject to public inspection.

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