Posted on: April 5, 2017

Stafford Expands PDR Program as Part of Ongoing Effort to Save Open Space




Stafford, Va. – Stafford County added three more farms to its Purchase of Development Rights Program in its ongoing effort to preserve open space. The PDR program is one of many tools the Board of Supervisors has used to save more than 10,000 acres and retire 2,967 development rights.

“Twelve years ago, Stafford had almost no land in conservation, particularly passive recreational or agricultural land. We deliberately created programs and policies designed to change that,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Paul Milde, Aquia District. “Today we boast over 10,000 acres protected from development with the three biggest pieces of land being Crow’s Nest, the Rappahannock River easement, and Widewater State Park in that order.”

The three farms added to the PDR program bring the total acreage saved by the program to 448.17 acres. Walnut Hill Farm at Elm Hill, owned by Jeff and Virginia Adams, is 38 acres of heritage species and conservation farming. It is part of the 1843 Blackburn farm and contains the Blackburn cemetery as well as a slave cemetery. Kenneth and Juanita Jones own Jones Farm, a 43-acre farm with active farmland and Civil War trenches. Historic Spotted Tavern Farm comprises 100 acres and is owned by John and Cathy Dodd Harris. The property contains active farmland as well as forest. The property also contains significant cultural resources, including Spotted Tavern historical site, Spotted Tavern Farm, and the Latham/Beckhin cemetery. It was the site of a Civil War encampment, as well as skirmishes for three local battles.  

Stafford’s population has nearly tripled in the last 40 years, due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., and Richmond, as well as its business friendly atmosphere, excellent schools and abundant amenities. Stafford’s Board recognized the importance of maintaining a balance between development and preserving open space, some of which contains historical and natural resources. Concentrating development where infrastructure already exists reduces the environmental and financial impact to the County as well as allowing officials to better predict school populations. They have utilized a variety of mechanisms to achieve this balance, including the Purchase of Development Rights Program, the Transfer of Development Rights program (Stafford is only one of two Virginia localities to adopt TDR), identifying Targeted Growth Areas in the 10-year Comprehensive Plan and providing for more park land through innovative means. The County opened Crow’s Nest, a natural area preserve created in partnership with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, on April 1.


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