Community planning

Virginia has experienced rapid development. Growing population and urbanization have brought about profound changes in the hydrologic regime of local watersheds. In 1982, Virginia gave local governments rights to establish Agricultural and Forestal Districts (A&F Districts) of Statewide Sagnificance. The minimum acreage requirement for A&F Districts was set at a minimum of 25 acres.

Picture of the ald big tree
For example, in Fairfax County, the local program uses tax benefits as an incentive for owners of agricultural or forestal areas to maintain those lands in an undeveloped state. Taxes for land located within an A&F District has been reduced approximately 60 percent. In this County approximately 80 percent of total area protected through this program is forested.

Some companies have been developing environmentally sensitive residential communities. One of those is the Woodlake residential community.

Prior to construction three stages were processed: The Planning Phase, the Siting Phase and the Construction of Utilities.

    Planning Phase. Areas with significant tree cover, wetlands, water courses were identified. This information was used to establish buffer areas and open space. More than 20 percent of the development was designated as buffer or open space.

    Siting Phase. A review of the detailed site plans identified the location of proposed structures (houses, driveways, etc.) and existing significant trees. Site plan approval was required prior to the initiation of construction activities.

    Construction of Utilities. Contractors were instructed to clear the minimum right-of-way width and were prohibited from operating their equipment in environmentally sensitive areas. Sewer and water lines, gas, electric and telephone lines were placed in the road right-of-way wherever possible. These activities increased the price ranges for the land. Water quality monitoring at this site has shown that post-development pollutant loads are relatively low.