I’m standing with clients gazing out over a beautiful landscape, lush pastures dotted with angus, a trout stream rushing below and the Blue Ridge mountains rising above it all…perfect. But, what might happen at that farm straight ahead or what could happen to that farm just downstream? How many houses could they build? How many townhomes?
In most cases you can rely on local zoning ordinances that will describe exactly how property can be used and sub-divided in various zoning categories. In a growth area, dense residential development is encouraged while in agricultural zoning, it is typically more restrictive with allocated division rights and minimum acreage requirements. It’s important for buyers to take a look at zoning maps and regulations which are different in each county to see how the property they are interested in might be affected by it’s surroundings.
One way to be absolutely confident that your surroundings will not change is to find that rare property that is completely surrounded by properties under conservation easement. Fortunately for those of us who appreciate the unspoiled countryside, there are several pockets of farms and estates where land owners have dedicated easements to conservation groups like the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Piedmont Environmental Council or the Sierra Club. These easements limit subdivision of properties and building rights in perpetuity in order to maintain the rural nature of the area.
There are several farm properties on the market right now that have conservation easements on them. The easements are customized for each owner and each property so they need to be examined carefully. What is hard to find is a property that is completely surrounded by protected properties so every aspect of the subject property is safe from development forever.
High Fields Farm in the South River Valley of Greene county is just such a property. The 128 acres has frontage on the South River, a popular trout stream and rises up to an elevated plateau where a lovely single story brick home enjoys panoramic views over the valley to the Blue Ridge beyond. Most of the acreage is gently rolling pasture for cattle or hay with about 30 acres in nice hardwoods reaching to the top of a small mountain. The home has been completely re-imagined and offers a wide open floor plan while reveling in pristine retro baths and fixtures.
High Fields is also part of this concerted neighborhood effort to protect this entire valley and has its own conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The easement will allow the property to be sub-divided one time and a new residence can be built on the divided parcel if desired. The existing home which is perfectly suited to luxurious downsizing can also be modified as desired.