Draft Culpeper Comprehensive Plan puts industry before county residents

The following text was sent out via email on October 17, 2022. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

10/19/2022 update:

On Wednesday, the Culpeper County Planning Commission responded to the citizens of Culpeper and made several important changes to the Comprehensive Plan before sending the document to the Board of Supervisors. These changes included:

  • Removing the Commerce and Innovation designation from two parcels in Brandy Station
  • Replacing the Rural Transition Area Designation for the Town of Brandy Station with a Historic Center Designation
  • A commitment to review the Future Land Use Map, specifically in the area of Alanthus, and to replace outdated Low-Density Residential Designations with Agricultural/Rural Area Designations to reflect the current zoning of those lands

These changes are still subject to changes by the Board of Supervisors and there are some other components of the Comp Plan that we feel need to be altered, but we are very encouraged by the Planning Commission’s efforts to create a Comprehensive Plan that better reflects the values of Culpeper County. 

We anticipate that the Board will hold a public hearing to vote on the Comprehensive Plan in late November or early December. 

You can still skim through the Comprehensive Plan and comment online or you can reach out directly to your District Supervisor and let them know your thoughts.

aerial image of rural land with a road cutting through
Farmland near Elkwood where a data center was recently proposed. Photo by Marco Sanchez/PEC

Dear Supporter, 

As mentioned in my last email, Culpeper County is in the midst of drafting its 2022 Comprehensive Plan, which will direct future land use and development over the coming years.

On October 19, the Culpeper County Planning Commission is hosting a special session to discuss the second draft, and will likely recommend its approval before sending it to the Board of Supervisors.

PEC has submitted comments on both drafts of the Comprehensive Plan, and we encourage you to share your thoughts as well. 

Our Concerns

A majority of Culpeper residents who responded to the Comprehensive Plan survey (summary of results included in Chapter 1) wanted to see Culpeper slow its growth and prevent sprawl into rural areas. Despite this, the draft plan would:

  1. Open up nearly 500 acres of rural land for data center development through a new Commerce and Innovation designation;
  2. Encourage residential sprawl in otherwise rural areas; and
  3. Fail to protect and leverage some of the County’s historic and natural assets like Brandy Station.

More Details

The proposed 808-acre Commerce and Innovation designation includes the conversion of 500 acres of rural lands, which could also disrupt adjacent residential neighborhoods and historic sites. Among other things, the designation allows for data centers, which have massive footprints on the landscape. Data centers also often require the construction of new transmission lines and substations, which have their own impacts and could result in utilities acquiring private property through eminent domain. In Culpeper, there are already close to 1,600 acres of unimproved industrial land in the County – including the currently vacant Cloud HQ site, which offers over 1.2 million square feet for data center development.

This Future Land Use Map can be found on page 37 of Chapter 2: Land Use and Development

Our second concern is another new designation called the Catalpa Rural Transition Area, which encourages residential development in an otherwise rural area, potentially fragmenting established agricultural lands and compromising Bald’s Run and Rudasill Branch. The designation seeks to increase the footprint of the Town of Culpeper even though there are hundreds of acres of residential land within the town’s current service boundary that remain vacant. We want to see the County use the land already set aside for development before expanding its residential footprint.

We are also concerned that this draft plan does nothing to leverage the economic and tourism opportunities presented by the new Culpeper Battlefield State Park. Worse, by keeping the existing Brandy Station Rural Transition Area, this draft of the Comprehensive Plan encourages inappropriate technology and industrial development next door.

A better option would be for the County to recognize the significant historic resources present in and around Brandy Station by designating the community as a Historic Center. Historic Center is a designation for smaller crossroad communities and for those of historic importance. Land use in these areas should be limited to low-density residential and low-intensity commercial uses that will primarily serve nearby residents.

Make Your Voice Heard

I encourage you to scan through the draft plan and comment online or share your concerns in person at the upcoming Planning Commission public hearing.

Planning Commission Public Hearing

Wednesday, Oct. 19 @ 7 p.m.
Board of Supervisors Meeting Room
302 North Main St., Culpeper, VA 22701

We will also need your support when the Comprehensive Plan goes before the Board of Supervisors (as early as November). You can reach out directly to your District Supervisor and let them know your thoughts.

If you have any questions about the draft, please reach out!


Sarah Parmelee
Culpeper County Field Representative
(540) 347-2334 x7045