On Feb. 16, 2021, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved the zoning amendment to establish the Agritourism And Arts Overlay District (AAOD). The AAOD encourages agricultural and small business, artistic uses of shared spaces.
According to County Executive Chris Martino, "I am excited to see Prince William County introduce this innovative approach to have businesses that you typically would not see together, sharing spaces. Prince William County's business, economic development and tourism industries will all benefit from this enterprise."
The purpose of the AAOD is to create an area where agritourism and art-related businesses can integrate, while maintaining the character of the County's rural areas. This is done through an innovative approach allowing artists and business owners to occupy joint living and commercial space within the same structure that otherwise would not be allowed.
The AAOD offers more flexibility in the small business uses that are allowed and the development standards related to those uses as incentives for investing in agritourism and arts-related endeavors. The overlay also provides reasonable standards to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public.
Deputy County Executive Rebecca Horner states, "Growing up, my mother and I used to take ceramics classes in the basement of a home of a friend who lived in a rural area. Since then, my own daughters have been fortunate to be able to take painting classes in a similar home setting. Arts and agriculture have natural synergies that I am excited Prince William County will be able to better facilitate. Allowing for spaces where people can start an arts-related business in their home and grow that business until they are successful enough to need a permanent space in a commercial center is a great way to incubate new business, grow the commercial tax base, and stimulate the ingenuity and creativity of our community."
The AAOD may include a variety of arts-related spaces, such as studios, galleries, art and culinary classes, salons, shops, bakeries and cafés. Its agricultural activities may comprise playgrounds, petting farms, hayrides, nature trails and picnic areas.