One way that Prince William County encourages the preservation of land devoted to agricultural and forestal production is through Agricultural and Forestal Districts (AFD). More than 2,300 acres in Prince William County are included in one of the three Agricultural and Forestal Districts that provide numerous benefits including:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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