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September 1, 2017

Feds help finance farmland conservation in Fauquier

Fauquier this week completed a $212,500 grant agreement with the federal government to offset the cost of permanently protecting from development 250 acres of farmland near Marine Base Quantico.

“The grant program, known as REPI (Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration) is intended to help protect land around the periphery of military bases,” Deputy County Administrator Katie Heritage wrote in a press release Friday. “Approved projects are eligible for up to a 50-percent cost-share from the Navy.”

Under its purchase of development rights program, Fauquier in 2014 spent $425,000 to buy 17 potential home lots to permanently protect the land.

That year, the county bought 11 rights from Cedar Run District landowners Jimmie Eustace, who received $275,000, and six from Robert Shaffer, who received $150,000.

The $212,500 federal grant effectively represents a “reimbursement” for those transactions, said county Agricultural Development Director Ray Pickering, whose agency manages the PDR program.

Property owners who meet the county PDR program’s criteria receive $25,000 for each potential lot they agree to “extinguish” through deed restriction, which prevents further subdivision of the affected land.

Five years ago, Fauquier received a $75,000 grant through the REPI program to purchase potential home lots on farmland near the base.

The PDR program seeks to help working farmers stay on their land. It also seeks to reduce the financial impact of new homes on public services, particularly education.

Established in 2002, Fauquier’s purchase of development rights program has protected 12,123 acres of farmland — making it the most successful of its kind in Virginia.

The county has purchased 625 development rights. That means landowners have received about $15.9 million through the program.

Most of that has come from county tax revenue and the rest from state and federal grants.

“It’s another source of revenue we’ve been able to tap” to help support the PDR program, Mr. Pickering said of REPI grants. “We’re trying to get as many as we can.”

— Don Del Rosso
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Jim Griffin · September 3, 2017 at 10:09 am
I support this effort and believe it appropriate. I am in agreement with BJ and others on this. I adore this county and think it a great place to live.

But then I think myself properly defined as a socialist who believes in democracy, having equal opposition to both pure capitalism and communism (though I hate the latter more than the former).

Why socialist? Because it's how we live here. We heavily regulate, tax and/or provide: 1, Schools/library; 2, Real property; 3, Personal property; 4, Income; 5, Water/sewers; 6, Electricity/communications/broadband (all franchised by state/local authorities); 7, Emergency services; 8, Transportation/parking/vehicles; 9, Future retirement income (mandatory social security); 10, Health care; and more, including welfare payments. Indeed, we operate a dog park and aquatic facility.

To top it off, unlike many US counties, the government actually uses federal, state and local tax money to purchase the development rights of land owners, taking them off the market forever. Yes, it is voluntary for those land owners to sell to the govt, but it is a govt program nonetheless, not exclusively voluntary payment (tax money). More than 12,000 acres of land in Fauquier are off the capitalist open market by the hand of government.

Fine with me. Better world. But don't tell me I'm the only socialist in a capitalist, conservative county when my land and the above list of "necessities" is provided, regulated, franchised and more by local, state and federal governments. Every county has zoning, but not many take possession of land rights, substituting its judgment for that of the open market.

This is not capitalism. I detest Communism in all its forms. I am happy to live here and support our elected officials, but let's admit we are all socialists -- somewhere between communism and capitalism -- else we simply don't know what the word means.
BJ · September 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm
If you have driven Rt15 North or Rt 28 East in the past year, there are parts that are no longer recognizable. All new housing developments, wider roads, and shopping centers. It's a slow tsunami of humanity. Fauquier County needs to keep making a stand on the higher ground, or our rural lands will disappear under fake colonial homes and parking lots. Blaine Johnson
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