With the new zoning now law; we are attempting to review some of the changes. One area which is being affected is Agricultural District. As was pointed out to the Mirror by a citizen, the term “electric generation facility” was added to acceptable uses (this would require a special use permit), and it is listed as ‘B’, which means it will still have to be approved and amended by the BoS. The question is, just what does this term carry with it…what does it mean? Could a power plant could be constructed in Northampton, and if so what type of facility would that be?
In the 2009 zoning ordinance, the intent statement for agriculture districts describes it as a district to:
1(a) to protect the prime agricultural soils of the county;
(b) to help maintain the rural character of the county
(c) to provide an area in which the agricultural and forestry industries of the county may freely practice the “right to farm” (VA Code 3.1-22.28 and 3.1-22.29);
(d) to provide for low density, rural housing compatible with the rural, agricultural quality of the District and arranged to minimize impact upon agricultural activities and to maximize open space which may be used for agriculture and forestry.
From the recently passed zoning ordinance, here is the new intent statement for agriculture:
“The primary intent of the Agricultural district is to provide for agricultural and forestry industries. This district also provides for other residential and non-residential uses.”
Reading the zoning, some of the other residential and non-residential uses include:
dredge spoil sites, commercial hunting preserves, museums, heliports, jails, waste management facilities, electric generation facilities, schools, golf courses, event venues, airfields, recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds, medical facilities, kennels, funeral homes, bus stops, recreational playing fields, government offices, recreation and sports facilities, shooting related, funeral homes.
The changes to Agricultural districts certainly appears to be a departure from what was defined in the 2009 ordinance – it also appears to be a departure from the spirit and intent of the Comprehensive Plan. The Mirror hopes to provide more analysis of the new zoning as it becomes available.