One way that Prince William County encourages the preservation of land devoted to agricultural and forestal production is through agricultural/forestal districts (AFD). More than 2,200 acres in Prince William County are included in one of the three agricultural/forestal districts that provide numerous benefits including:
- Use-Value Assessment – Properties included in the AFD are automatically qualified for an agricultural or forestal use-value assessment as long as the requirements for the Use Value Assessment Program are satisfied.
- 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.
- Land Uses – The Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance and other policies regulating land and land use decisions regarding parcels adjacent to AFDs shall not conflict with the purposes of the AFD regulations.
- Commonwealth Encouragement – Commonwealth agencies shall encourage the maintenance of farming and forestry in AFDs in their administrative regulations and procedures including provisions applicable to obtaining federal grants, loans or other funding.
- Tax District Limitations – Special tax districts for sewer, water or electricity are limited in the AFD.
- Alternatives – 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 on the effects of Agricultural and Forestal Districts see §15.2-4312 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. Alternatively, a property owner whose land abuts an existing district may apply to add land to the existing district. Applications are reviewed by the Board of County Supervisors.
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. Contact the Planning Office at 703-792-7615 or e-mail