The Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution to authorize the purchase of an open space easement on 50 acres owned by Margie Guy Hockman, located on Lazy River Lane in Bentonville in the South River Magisterial District.The property is bordered by the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, with the remaining majority in open space. The property is improved with a two-story farmhouse and a number of miscellaneous farm outbuildings. The farm contains approximately 15 acres in hay, 20 acres in pasture, and 8 acres in deciduous forest. The conservation easement includes provisions for preservation of the property in perpetuity.
In 2009, the Board of Supervisors adopted a local conservation easement program which allows for the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR). The program is administered through the County’s Planning Department, with the assistance of the County Attorney’s office. The purpose is to further the goals of the County’s Comprehensive Plan and provide a means to assist County landowners in protecting and preserving farm and forest land, open space, scenic vistas, historic sites, water resources and environmentally sensitive lands, and the County’s rural character.
In 2017, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP) awarded Warren County $65,250 in matching farmland preservation grants. VDACS partners with localities like Warren County to help keep their local farmland open and available for productive use. “One of Governor Northam’s priorities is protecting Virginia’s valuable farmland,” said Bettina Ring, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “The purpose of these grants is to help local governments conserve more farmland than they could fund on their own, and we are proud to partner with localities in this endeavor.”
In addition to the grant, the County received private donations from the Scenic 340 Project and the Valley Conservation Council. The County’s PDR program is currently not funded; therefore this conservation easement purchase was made possible by these private donations and grants. Mr. Fred Andreae stated, “We at Scenic 340 Project are delighted to have helped Warren County create its first PDR easement. PDR’s are an excellent tool to help Warren County preserve its rural character and natural beauty.”
Margie Guy Hockman voluntarily agreed to convey this open space easement for her property. Ms. Hockman is dedicating the easement to the memory of her daughter, Dawn Marie Paxton, and her parents, Mildred and Archie Guy. “It was my parents' home place," Ms. Hockman said. "I wanted to preserve the land and its beauty into the future. I didn't want to have it chopped up into a housing development."
Mrs. Linda Glavis, South River District Supervisor, expressed thanks to Ms. Hockman for conveying the easement for her property. “I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to Ms. Hockman, her family and members of Scenic 340 Project for their contributions toward this open space easement. We and future generations are blessed by their generosity in preserving South Warren’s rural character.”
Mr. Doug Stanley, County Administrator, also voiced his appreciation to Ms. Hockman stating, “The Hockman easement represents the first purchase of development rights acquisition by Warren County. With the addition of this easement, the County now holds approximately 3,540 acres under conservation easement, permanently protecting it from intensive development in the future. The acquisition of the easement furthers a number of goals and objectives in the County’s Comprehensive Plan including the prohibition of development in the floodplain, limiting development in environmentally fragile areas, and preservation of natural resources. In addition, the site, which sits astride the South Fork of the Shenandoah, helps protect the viewshed of Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest. We commend Ms. Hockman for her love of the property and willingness to preserve it for future generations and thank Scenic 340 and the Valley Conservation Council for its financial support to make this purchase a reality.”
According to Andy Sorrell, Coordinator at the Office of Farmland Preservation, “The matching state grant program requires a dollar-for-dollar match from local governments to show their commitment to funding farmland conservation. VDACS has allocated more than $12.2 million since 2008 when state matching grant funds were first distributed. To date this state funding, along with local funding match, has protected more than 12,941 acres on 92 farms in 15 localities.” Localities interested in learning more should contact Mr. Sorrell in the VDACS Office of Farmland Preservation at Andrew.Sorrell@vdacs.virginia.gov or (804) 786-1906.
Citizens interested in learning more about the County’s Conservation Easement Program should contact County Planning Director Taryn Logan at email@example.com or (540) 636-3354.