Successful PDR Program Could Help Save Portions of Crow’s Nest
While the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program is widely known, what many do not know is that an additional program, the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR), is available and may prove an asset in the efforts to save Crow’s Nest.
Stafford County describes the PDR as a program that “enables the Stafford County Government to acquire conservation easements voluntarily offered by property owners as a way to ensure that Stafford’s resources are protected and efficiently used, and limits further residential development on a property. The program is proposed to preserve open space and rural lands; farm and forest land; water resources and environmentally sensitive lands; and wildlife and aquatic habitat. It is also intended to help shape the character, direction and timing of development in the county; improve the quality of life for residents; and promote recreation and tourism through the preservation of scenic and historic resources.”
The PDR program is funded with rollback taxes and matching funds. The rollback tax is the difference between the amount the land owner owed in property taxes and the amount the land owner would have owed for each of the five tax years preceding the change in use.
From the 2014 fiscal year rollback, plus leftover 2013 funds, Stafford County has about $730,000, with $137,500 going toward the current Kellogg Mill Road purchase. That will leave $590,000 for additional purchases. The County just applied for more matching funds through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for two more properties. The County will know in late January if that money is granted. The rollback, combined with the growth of the program, marks significant progress.
In 2006, Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde began advocating implementation of the PDR program in Stafford. The program was piloted in 2009, when 98 acres were preserved with 22 development rights retired. In 2013, 167 acres were preserved with 30 development rights retired.
The total amount of money spent was $1,350,000. However, the County only had to pay $675,000. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) matched that with an additional $675,000.
The total number of properties saved so far is three, with 265 acres being preserved. The total number of development rights retired is 52. This is great progress for a program that only began a few years ago.
What’s happening now? The purchase of the Adams property at 449 Kellogg Mill Road is in progress and should close by early January, with 38 acres and 11 more development rights.
According to VDACS, as of 2014, 21 local governments have established a PDR program.
Virginia Beach, the first locality to have a PDR program, ranks number one in the state for the most acreage protected – about 9,200 as of December, 2013. The Virginia Beach program was initiated in 1995, the first purchases occurring in 1997.
Fauquier County and Clarke County also have mature PDR programs that have saved thousands of acres. As of April 2013, over 9,732 acres in Fauquier County have been approved for the PDR program. Clarke County’s PDR program began in 2003. As of 2013, 5,333 acres have been preserved through the program.
In Stafford, at least one large farm owner contiguous to the Crow’s Nest has applied for the PDR program. It is hoped that the success and continued growth of the County’s PDR program could equal the preservation of more Crow’s Nest acreage.