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Supes look to take final step on AFDs / April 19, 2010
Halifax County Supervisors are expected to approve the ordinance creating agricultural forestal districts in Halifax County when they meet this evening following their joint session with town council members.

Applications for inclusion in the special districts have been made by 69 landowners across the county and include some 50,330 acres of farm/forest land.

If Supervisors approve the ordinance, the districts will take effect on April 20, 2010 and continue on through December 31, 2018 before being reviewed.

Any land included in the special districts will automatically qualify for an agricultural or forestal use-value assessment. Earlier County Supervisors estimated that the County would lose some $80,000 in real estate tax revenues from the lowered assessments.

According to the ordinance no parcel included in a district can be developed to a more intensive use than its existing use at the time of adoption of the ordinance without the prior approval of the Board of Supervisors. This condition does not restrict expansion of or improvements to the land by an owner or a member of an owner’s immediate family or persons who earn a substantial part of their livelihood from farm or forestry operations on the property.

Only family subdivisions or boundary adjustments are allowed to be developed on the properties included, and no land within the district may be rezoned to any residential, business or industrial zone. Also no conditional use permits shall be issued for activities that could conflict with the policies of the ordinance.

Finally the withdrawal of a parcel or parcels from a district shall not necessarily terminate the existence of the district.

Supervisors are also expected tonight to approve the $57,693,025 FY 2010-11 school budget for the coming school year. The upcoming budget is $5.3 million lower (or 8.4 percent) than the $63 million budget of the current year. The upcoming budget reflects a $3,323,030 loss of state funds from that of the current year and shows no increases in pay for school employees.

Supervisors are also expected to look over an agreement with the Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens and Environmental Education Center to develop a series of public educational demonstration gardens to be located on some 15 acres of land in Edmunds Park. Supervisors approved the concept of the gardens during their meeting earlier this month, but needed to have a written agreement before finalizing their approval.

The Board is then expected to enter into closed session following its open meeting to discuss personnel matters, the consideration of the purchase of property for a public purpose, for consultation with legal counsel on probable litigation and to discuss the award of a public contract involving the expenditure of public money.

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