On the Ground

PEC’s Office Renovation is Coming Along!

The beautiful spring weather helped speed the progress of PEC’s headquarters office construction project, nearing completion in Old Town Warrenton. The building addition is now under a roof, and it’s scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015. When finished, the additional office space will allow the Warrenton staff to be located under one roof, instead of occupying two different offices. The addition will also provide expanded meeting rooms for PEC and community use.


Albemarle’s Revised Comprehensive Plan

After almost four years of community input and careful review, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the final draft of the revised Comprehensive Plan on June 10 in the County Office Building. The revisions generally maintain longstanding policies supported by PEC, which include: preserving the rural area, creating a development area with the services and amenities necessary to accommodate growth and development, and protecting critical natural resources throughout the entire County.


Conserving land

Nearly 500 acres of land were protected with conservation easements in Clarke County in 2014. Now, 23,679 acres of conservation easements exist in Clarke County, including both donated conservation easements and easements that have been purchased through the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program.


Growth area inching northward

The County is looking at allowing the growth area to expand north and northwest of the Town of Culpeper. One proposal would make Catalpa, the intersection of Rt. 229 and Chestnut Fork Road, a convenience center and provide it with public water and sewer service. A second idea is to change the future land use designation of a swath of land northwest of town from agricultural to rural. This makes it easier to gain support for rezoning land for residential lots. Community meetings on the Comprehensive Plan update started on May 27.


Agritourism bill

The Board of Supervisors deferred action in May on an ordinance related to activities for agritourism businesses. Changes to the ordinance were spurred by legislation that passed the General Assembly regarding agritourism and are similar to changes made by Albemarle County. However, Greene’s ordinance would be less restrictive. It would allow up to 24 events each year on a farm, with up to 400 people each.


Proposed cell tower

Verizon is proposing a 154’ monopole cell tower off of Casanova Road in Fauquier, just outside the historic village of Casanova. Fauquier’s telecommunication ordinance requires that any towers over 120’ include an “exhaustive” evaluation of alternative sites and designs. Unfortunately, Verizon has been unwilling to seriously consider lower heights or alternative locations. If approved, Casanova’s landscape will be permanently marred and future applicants down the road may try to seek the same type of relief from the ordinance. For these reasons the County Planning Commission voted to recommend denial and the Board of Supervisors has asked the applicant to revise their application. Federal law only allows the locality a limited amount of time to decide on the application, so they will have to make a decision soon.


The five-year plan for the 141-acre property near Gilbert’s Corner

In December 2014, the PEC Board of Directors adopted a five-year plan for managing the 141-acre property that PEC owns near Gilbert’s Corner in Loudoun. In addition to protecting the scenic landscape, the plan focuses on restoring the property’s degraded natural resources and improving its functionality and productivity for agricultural uses. PEC is working with the Loudoun County Soil and Water Conservation District and other organizations on implementing a series of agricultural best management practices designed to achieve these objectives. The practices, which are also intended to enhance wildlife habitat, include fencing to exclude livestock from streams, improving pasture management, and reforesting marginal farmland and environmentally sensitive areas.


New trails at Montpelier

This past winter, PEC worked with Montpelier and Grelen Nursery, its neighbor to the south, to develop a new 5-mile trail network linking the two sites. On April 4, the new hiking trail opened to the public. With already existing trails, the Montpelier-Grelen trail network collectively provides the community with 10 miles of hiking trails.


Conserved property protects many resources

Three properties in Rappahannock were protected in 2014, bringing the total number of acres protected by conservation easements in Rappahannock to 31,366. PEC’s Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County Conservation facilitated one of these easements by providing a grant to the landowners to help offset the legal fees associated with donating a conservation easement. That property protects water quality, wildlife habitat, working forests, and open space. In other news, PEC and the Rappahannock Historical Society hosted a successful event celebrating Rappahannock’s mountain heritage at the Thornton Gap Primitive Baptist Church this past April.

This article was featured in our Summer 2015 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.