Good evening. Culpeper has been quite busy since my last update. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the county has continued to carry on with land use business. Although there have been electronic and telephonic public comment submittal options, PEC believes localities should wait until the normal public process is restored prior to proceeding with non-essential decisions.
PEC has provided electronic comments during multiple hearings, including:
- Case No. Z-450-19-1: The Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved (4-3) a 31.8-acre Low-Density Residential (R-1) rezoning, previously Rural Area (RA), on May 5th. The property was classified as RA in the future land use section of the Comprehensive Plan. The previous zoning (RA), which allowed for approximately 10-residential lots (3-acres minimum per lot), now allows for 31 single-family lots via cluster ordinance provisions under R-1. The property is located along Route 685 (Chestnut Fork Rd) and Belle Ave. in the Stevensburg Magisterial District. PEC submitted comments disputing the rezoning, stating that it did not conform to the goals of the Comprehensive Plan and that adjoining, higher zoned land should not be used as precedent to rezone non-residential land.
- Proposed Subdivision Ordinance Amendment to Section 962: On May 13, the Planning Commission recommended approval (7-2) of an amendment that would remove Section 962 of the Subdivision Ordinance. This provision requires any variations (waivers) granted to the subdivision ordinance be in the public interest and documented in the meeting minutes. PEC submitted comments that explained our concerns and the need for transparency in public decision making.
In addition to public meetings, the 2020 Comprehensive Plan will likely be pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent loss of the county’s principal planner, Kendall May, according to the Culpeper Department of Planning and Zoning,
PEC has been an integral stakeholder throughout the creation of the newly created nonprofit, Friends of Culpeper Battlefields. The organization, initially funded by the American Battlefield Trust, creates a formal alliance between existing battlefield protection and preservation groups specific to Culpeper and the Piedmont, including:
- American Battlefield Trust;
- Brandy Station Foundation;
- Culpeper Chamber of Commerce;
- Culpeper Tourism;
- Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield;
- Germanna Foundation;
- Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area;
- Museum of Culpeper History;
- Piedmont Environmental Council;
- Preservation Virginia;
- Remington Community Partnership;
- and Virginia Association for Parks.
PEC is excited to work along with these organizations to advance the preservation of historic battlefields in Culpeper, in addition to protecting the agricultural and rural lands associated with them. For more information, please review the Friends of Culpeper Battlefields news release published by the Culpeper Star Exponent.
Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield received an $86,740 grant from the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program Battlefield Preservation Planning Grant.to study the Rapidan Front, including Racoon Ford, Morton’s Ford, and Somerville Ford Battlefields; and the 1863-1864 Union Winter Encampment. A portion of the land included in this study has been approved for the Greenwood utility-scale solar facility, covering up to 1,000-acres and creating up to 100 megawatts. PEC supports the use of renewable energy, but we do not agree with the replacement of large tracts of agricultural and forested land being replaced by solar. For more information on PEC’s thoughts on utility-scale solar, take a look at our policy document on utility-scale solar siting.
For more information on what PEC has been working on in Culpeper during COVID-19, please watch our Recent Interview with Culpeper Media Network. This interview is also airing every day this week at 8:00, 12:00, and 6:30 via local television station and their Online Live Stream.
If you have any questions during this period, as always, feel free to reach out to me via email or phone call.
Field Representative – Culpeper, Madison and Orange
The Piedmont Environmental Council
540-347-2334 ext. 7047