Planning & GIS/ Agricultural and Forestal District/ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Agricultural and Forestal District Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) [ Expand all ] [ Collapse all ] What makes land eligible? Each district must have a core of contiguous properties consisting of at least 200 acres. Outlying parcels can be included in a district as long as they are within one mile of the boundary of the 200-acre core or contiguous to district land that is within one mile of the core. There is no minimum number of landowners (one parcel can be a district), and no maximum acreage for the district. How do I know if I qualify? Property must be zoned Agricultural (A1) Being enrolled in an AFD shall be compatible with the Comprehensive Plan for proposed parcel(s) Must have a conservation plan for agricultural lands or a forestry management plan within one (1) year What if there are no districts within one mile of my land? Applications for the establishment of a new district or the addition to an existing district shall be filed between April first and May fifteenth of each year. Please contact the Planning & GIS office for more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 540-394-2148. Is being enrolled in an AFD different from the Land Use Assessment Program administered by the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office? How? The Land Use Assessment Program that is administered by the Commissioner of Revenue’s office is different from the Agricultural and Forestal District; however, they do go hand in hand. The Land Use Assessment Program provides for the deferral of real estate taxes on real estate that qualifies for agricultural, horticultural and forestry uses. Assessed values under the program are less than those estimated at fair market value. The program encourages the preservation of land to conserve and protect the County’s natural resources and promotes orderly land use planning and development. Being enrolled in an Agricultural and Forestal District offers further protection against development that is not related to food and other agricultural and forestal products. The AFD program is administered by the Planning & GIS office. If you are enrolled in the Land Use Program, you automatically qualify for enrollment in an AFD. Montgomery County established AFDs because of a belief that districts serve the public good by protecting productive agricultural and forestal land, maintaining the rural character of the community, and contributing to the preservation of water supply and other natural resources. As part of an AFD, property owners agree not to convert their farm, forestland and other open space lands to more intense commercial, industrial or residential uses for a term of eight (8) years. In return, the County and Commonwealth agree not to take actions or make infrastructure investments that will place increased pressure on landowners to convert land in the district to more intense land uses during the term of the District. From the landowner's point of view, the district provides: Certainty that agriculture will be maintained in the area; Protection from nuisance ordinances that would limit customary farming practices, such as manure spreading or prescribed burning; Assurance that the district will be considered in local planning decisions, such as rezonings and Special Use Permits Protection in most cases from government acquisition of land or special assessments for public utilities Restrictions on state policies and spending as they affect the district Potential qualification for Land Use Assessment Program administered by the Commissioner of Revenue’s office From the government's perspective, districts serve the public good by maintaining the rural character of the community, protecting productive agricultural and forest land, and contributing to the preservation of water supply and other natural resources. Can I still subdivide a parcel that is enrolled in an AFD? Property enrolled in the Agricultural and Forestal District can only be subdivided as a Family Subdivision, meeting requirements set forth in Montgomery County Code Article IV – Subdivisions, Section 8-112.(2). When can I withdraw from an AFD? During Renewal Process - Withdrawal from an Agricultural and Forestal District can take place at any time during the review process before the Board of Supervisors take action on the district renewal. Notifications and applications are mailed to all land owners enrolled in an AFD approximately seven months prior to the AFD expiration date, from Montgomery County Planning staff. Outside Renewal Process - To withdraw from an AFD any other time than when the district is being reviewed for renewal, application must be made in the Planning & GIS Services Department, and the owner must establish “good and reasonable cause” and must meet five specific criteria as outlined in Montgomery County Code Section 2-150. Death of Owner - Upon the death of a property owner, any heir is entitled to withdraw land from an AFD district with written notice of withdrawal to the Board of Supervisors and the Commissioner of Revenue within two (2) years of the date of death of the owner. What type of development can occur on land that is enrolled in an AFD? Based on Code Section 2-147, Compatible Uses, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has established the following uses: Residential dwellings of farm/forest owners, members of their immediate families and their employees General farming, agricultural, horticulture, viticulture and dairying, including accessory buildings and uses Temporary sawmills and forestry operations, including accessory buildings and uses Watershed areas Temporary exploratory activities for oil or gas resources, such as seismic surveys and the drilling of test wells or cores. Data poles as defined under Section 10-61. Telecommunications tower, attached as defined under Section 10-61. Telecommunications tower, freestanding as defined under Section 10-61. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) AFD Committee Current Renewal Map Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) AFD Committee Current Renewal Map ContactMontgomery CountyGovernment Center755 Roanoke St. Ste. 2AChristiansburg, VA 24073-3177 Phone: (540) 394-2148email | directionsHours: Mon.-Fri.,8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.