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Planning Office

Purchase of Development Rights

Purchase of Development Rights press release picture

What is a Purchase of Development Rights program?

Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) is an incentive based, voluntary program with the intent of permanently protecting productive, sensitive, or aesthetic landscapes, yet retaining private ownership and management. In this program, a landowner sells the development rights of a parcel of land to a public agency, land trust or unit of government. A conservation easement is recorded on the title of the property that limits development permanently. While the right to develop or subdivide that land is permanently restricted, the landowner retains all other rights and responsibilities associated with that land and can use or sell it for purposes allowed in the easement. PDR programs and conservation easements do not necessarily require public access, though it may be granted as part of the agreement or be a requirement of the funding source.

Landowners in Prince William County will be able to permanently conserve their land through a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. The Prince William County Planning Office has spent several years working with the community and stakeholders on tools to preserve land in the County.

On May 5, 2021, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted Ord. No. 21-26 that established the PDR program as a new land preservation tool to conserve land in the predominantly agricultural areas of the County. This new tool will allow for property owners with 20+ acres of contiguous A-1 (Agricultural) zoned land to submit an application to sell the development rights to the County. The program is entirely voluntary and allows the landowner to retain ownership of the land while conserving it for natural, historical, and/or agricultural purposes.

The program is similar to more than a dozen active programs in Virginia. The programs have had success protecting and preserving land for education, farming, environmental stewardship, and supporting the United States Department of Defense mission to limit encroachment near military installations like Marine Corp Base Quantico.

For more information on the PDR program in Prince William County contact the Planning Office at [email protected] or (703) 792-7615

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