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Votes

PDR Program May Get Update

Development program helps to preserve natural resources.

A few changes may be made to the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, as recommended by the PDR Board.

This year, the board reviewed the three-year-old program, which encourages landowners to sell the development rights of their land through conservation easements and help the county preserve its cultural, natural and agricultural resources.

"We got wiser on what we would like to see emphasized," said Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run), a member of the Finance and Government Services Committee who serves on the PDR board.

The Finance and Government Services Committee accepted three proposed amendments to the January 2000 PDR Design Team Report, the program's primary policy guide. The amendments intend to further incorporate the policies of the Revised General Plan; target properties with public access for trails, recreational uses and historic and environmental education; and provide additional incentives to leverage county funds for the easement purchases. The incentives encourage program applicants to donate more than 50 percent of the value of the conservation easements and favor applications with more than 50 percent of funding coming from outside grants.

PDR PROGRAM director Michael Kane provided a review of the program at the July 7 Finance and Government Services Committee meeting. The first two rounds of the program, which is conducted annually to review applications for the easement purchases, preserved 3,134 acres on 14 easements, including:

* Seven sites protecting historic resources.

* 1,466 acres with Virginia-designated Natural Heritage Resources located on the properties.

* 6.7 miles of stream corridors.

* 1,200 acres of prime agricultural and secondary cropland soils.

The $15.2 million worth of easements are nearly matched dollar for dollar with $6.8 million in grants and property owner donations and the remainder from the Open Space Preservation Fund.

"It's encouraging to see this program evolve and mature," said James Burton (I-Mercer), chair of the Finance and Government Services Committee.

Burton and Harris voted in favor of forwarding the amendments to the Board of Supervisors for final approval, with Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) voting against.