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Loudoun County, VA Not so Horse Friendly now, long and legalistic

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  • Loudoun County, VA Not so Horse Friendly now, long and legalistic

    LONG and for FULL ordinances, they are online at
    http://inetdocs.loudoun.gov/b&d/docs...in_2/index.htm

    They are also apparently only enforced when someone complains, not when a permit is granted.

    As many of you know, I am building a small farm in Western Loudoun County, VA. My intent is to have 3-4 boarders and just have a small barn for pleasure riders.

    I bought in the appropriately zoned area, AR-1, thinking I was building in a very horse friendly county. I was very open with the neighbors about what I was doing, and have attempted to build a beautiful farm, installing 3 board fence, a lovely Amish barn, and cleaning the site up. I even went so far as to rearrange buildings so that a future accessory dwelling/tennant house would not be on their side. The neighbor went totally nuts when the arena base went in....and they escalated their prior calls and complaints to having an attorney send a letter asking why "no enforcment action had been taken" (uh...because I'm in compliance you dopes).

    Imagine my surprise when the complaining neighbor on a 3.00 acre lot, caused the zoning administrator to unearth new ordinances that require site plans (at a cost of $2300 to submit + development of said plan) for ALL allowed uses of the land! ..and this is when all these other ordinances suddenly cropped up....I was told by Keith Fairfax, a zoning supervisor, that they'd never enforced any of these new ordinances before, but now I have to start complying.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Section 6-700 Site Plan Review.
    6-701 Site Plan Required.

    Site plan approval is required prior to the development of any land when the development or land falls within the following categories:

    (C) All nonresidential uses in the AR-1 and AR-2 Districts, including all permitted uses within the “agriculture support and services related to agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry” use category, but not including basic agricultural, horticulture, and animal husbandry permitted uses.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    PLEASE go read these rules, especially those who might be considering buying or building land. Now, according to the zoning administrator, these ONLY apply to you if you have boarders, but I've read the ordinance on Site Plans and it could be required for ALL farms in the county if the whim strikes....upon a complaining neighbor. I have followed every single requirement and setback, gotten every required permit and followed ALL rules.

    continued in next post for paging.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    LONG and for FULL ordinances, they are online at
    http://inetdocs.loudoun.gov/b&d/docs...in_2/index.htm

    They are also apparently only enforced when someone complains, not when a permit is granted.

    As many of you know, I am building a small farm in Western Loudoun County, VA. My intent is to have 3-4 boarders and just have a small barn for pleasure riders.

    I bought in the appropriately zoned area, AR-1, thinking I was building in a very horse friendly county. I was very open with the neighbors about what I was doing, and have attempted to build a beautiful farm, installing 3 board fence, a lovely Amish barn, and cleaning the site up. I even went so far as to rearrange buildings so that a future accessory dwelling/tennant house would not be on their side. The neighbor went totally nuts when the arena base went in....and they escalated their prior calls and complaints to having an attorney send a letter asking why "no enforcment action had been taken" (uh...because I'm in compliance you dopes).

    Imagine my surprise when the complaining neighbor on a 3.00 acre lot, caused the zoning administrator to unearth new ordinances that require site plans (at a cost of $2300 to submit + development of said plan) for ALL allowed uses of the land! ..and this is when all these other ordinances suddenly cropped up....I was told by Keith Fairfax, a zoning supervisor, that they'd never enforced any of these new ordinances before, but now I have to start complying.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Section 6-700 Site Plan Review.
    6-701 Site Plan Required.

    Site plan approval is required prior to the development of any land when the development or land falls within the following categories:

    (C) All nonresidential uses in the AR-1 and AR-2 Districts, including all permitted uses within the “agriculture support and services related to agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry” use category, but not including basic agricultural, horticulture, and animal husbandry permitted uses.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    PLEASE go read these rules, especially those who might be considering buying or building land. Now, according to the zoning administrator, these ONLY apply to you if you have boarders, but I've read the ordinance on Site Plans and it could be required for ALL farms in the county if the whim strikes....upon a complaining neighbor. I have followed every single requirement and setback, gotten every required permit and followed ALL rules.

    continued in next post for paging.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Also, the new ordinances slap on extreme lanscaping "buffer" requirements and require a 50' setback on all properties that border a 3.00 acre parcel or less. Since the 3.00 acre parcel was the normal lot size to subdivide before the most recent rezoning there are potentially many, many farms that could be affected by this.

      I'm pasting the parts that us horse people care about, from Section 5-600 Additional Regulations for Specific Uses.
      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
      5-627 Agriculture Support Uses (Direct Association with Agriculture, Horticulture or Animal Husbandry).
      <span class="ev_code_RED">Most breeding operations are this</span>
      5-630 Agriculture Support Use (No Direct Association with Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry).
      <span class="ev_code_RED">Most boarding operations are this</span>
      (D) Landscaping/Buffering/Screening.
      (1)Buffer. The use shall comply with the landscaping and screening standards of Section 5-653(A).
      <span class="ev_code_RED">This requires a 50' area, not to be used for ANYTHING else, being interpreted by Michelle Lohr in the county as NOT including pasture/open land if it abuts a 3.00 acre parcel to be landscaped with 2 canopy trees, 5 understory trees and 20 shrubs for EVERY 100 FEET of border. I own 900' of land bordering 3 acre lots. MOST of it is my pastures. Incidentally, many of the approved shrubs are toxic to horses </span>
      (3)Storage Areas. All storage areas shall be screened and landscaped consistent with the standards of Section 5-653(C).
      <span class="ev_code_RED"> Guess what they call trailer parking???...you got it, "Storage Areas" </span>
      <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

      I cut out most of them, they are LONG.

      Lou Nichols in the Rural Economic Development office is going to start working on re-wording these ordinances so that the county can remain agriculture friendly, but I think that many of us should be concerned.

      Oh yeah, at what point can I get this !@#$!@# neighbor for using the county to harass me? I have spent countless hours on the phone with the county because of his complaints. I'm in compliance, I have my permits and suddenly, ONE complaining person turns loose a flurry or regulations that they might start to enforce on ALL permitted agricultural uses of land in Loudoun County.

      Mel

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm so sorry to hear this - but Loudoun County is done for - you must know that by now.

        The Board of Supervisors went so far as to threaten to fire zoning workers because they thought the zoning people were trying to protect the land from development. It was in the Times-Democrat a few months ago. I mean it was really nasty. I considered it libelous.

        Somehow, a couple of folks got on your Board last election that are so pro-urbanization that in only a few months, they undid 20 years of planning efforts. In only a couple of years all the big dairy farms disappeared. There is only one big one left, if memory serves.

        Your county zoning people have been threatened by the Board of Supervisors. Your county is being leveled as we speak. Even the Goose Creek watershed area is under attack. I don't even recognize Route 15 - from PW County up past Leesburg - it's been raped.

        Your Board doesn't want farms. They want subdivisions named after the farms that used to be there. They are actively soliciting developers and big box businesses to come into the County. If you think I'm being alarmist try contacting your representative. If he's one of the new ones you can rest assured he won't listen.

        You may also want to contact the Loudoun office of the Piedmont Environmental Council and see if they have any suggestions. And while you're at it - write them a check. That group has been fighting to protect Loudoun.

        I'll also bet your horrible neighbor is an urban refugee who moved to the country, bought a McMansion, and is bitching about the lack of latte stands.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Actually, my Supervisor is one of the old ones, from Western Loudoun.

          The horrible neighbors are ultimately from New York, at least the wife is, not sure about the husband, but he is a Fairfax County Detective. They've been there since 1988. It isn't a McMansion, a 2 story "farmhouse" style home.

          Until I re-fenced, they had cattle in their yard regularly. I've "ruined" their view by building my barns and putting in an arena...that would be an outdoor one.

          IF it comes to it, I'll apply for a variance and based on their list of criteria, I'd have a good chance of getting one.

          And, I am only moving TO Loudoun County. I had no vote, but I do know that the Eastern half of the county has a lot more people and they are voting pro-development.

          The sad thing is, I'm trying to provide affordable boarding.

          Mel

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm glad your supervisor is one of the old ones.

            I hope your side of the county is preserved. Come to think of it - isn't there a right to farm law in Virginia that supercedes local ordinances? Try looking that up under the commonwealth website. You can search the state code - try under agriculture.

            Or maybe contact American Farmland Trust - they may know if Virginia has such a law - I just don't remember.

            Comment


            • #7
              The regulations in MD and VA are why I moved to WV. No one has bothered me at all.
              http://TouchstoneAcres.com
              Touchstone Acres Lipizzans, Standing N. Samira VI (Gray), N. XXIX-18(Black), more in 2014

              Comment


              • #8
                Would he really rather you put in another roof for trailer storage - maybe a tall, ugly one, catywampus to the universe, to truly block his view?? Or what if I lent you my trailer to park your trailer in, until he cries uncle??

                Really, so sorry to hear!! Any chance that he could be negotiated with - maybe using a good mediator to help you all find solutions?? I mean, you both do want a nice country home with clean well water and good views - he's just gotten a tad used to viewing your land as a pretty open space, now the real world is intruding...

                Now, if you're not a boarding set-up, the site plan and other regs don't apply, right?? What do the commissioners do about already built facilities which apply then to become boarding facilities?? Is that where you get into variances??

                Guess part of me is toying with what sort of an ugly but approvable (if expensive) plan could you show him (any rules against painting your barns, oh green and orange polka dots on a sriped puce background, with really ugly rooflines??) and then negotiate to something more reasonable ("you let me leave the ring 30 feet from our line, I leave the polka dots off" ypu say in your best lawyer voice... Or now that county agents are involved, is all out of negotiation range??

                Very best of luck!!
                http://wildwoodfarmnc.com

                http://cantersgutenberg.wordpress.co...g-quiet-goose/

                Comment


                • #9
                  OOOOOHHHHH Mel good luck!

                  Unfortunately, while you may be able to do what you planned, you are going to be stuck with this neighbor forever.

                  My boss bought a home in a neighborhood complete with HOA rules. She put in a pool, fenced her property in accordance with said HOA and town rules and BAM! The neighbor objects - claims my boss "ruined their view" (with a practically invisible black wire fence behind scenic post and slip rail) and the "constant noise" from the pool heater prevents them from enjoying their property. Since this is a load of crap, and he has no legal recourse because she's in compliance, what has this retired CIA employee done? He WATCHES her house from morning till night. If ANYONE other than the gardener appears in the back yard, he either blasts Sousa marches at high volume from a window pointed toward her yard, or rides his lawn tractor around the yard for HOURS not engaging the blades! Last time I was over, he turned on the wood chipper and went indoors.

                  The Town & County do not have noise ordinances, nor does the HOA. While it looked like she was going to have to spearhead (and fund) the cost of adopting a noise ordinance, it appears that since several people are willing to witness on her behalf, she'll just be able to take the @$$hole to court for being a nuisance.

                  He is a bully, plain and simple and I see similarities between him (retired CIA) and your detective. Good luck. Remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions ("I want to have small local boarding barn")
                  ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                  Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                  "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Loudoun was a wonderful and beautiful place to live at one time. Now it has been raped by the greedy developers and the rampage continues.

                    Good luck to you. I solved the problem by moving and am so very happy to be out of Loudoun.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was born in Leesburg and raised in Sterling. Loudoun was completely ruined in the late 80's. Gone. It is NO longer a rural county. It has been raped, pillaged and spit out in cookie cutter McMansions. It is Fairfax all over again.
                      I was pushed out in to the county I now live in, Rappahannock. If you want rural, leave Purcellville and come down this way. As long as you are agricultural, which is the vast majority of this county, then you are pretty much free to do what you want. Lori
                      Proud to have two Takaupa Gold line POAs!
                      Takaupas Top Gold
                      Gifts Black Gold Knight

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Mel, i am sorry to hear this. what a nightmare.

                        i'm a northern virginia native (clifton), and have seen once beautiful farmland carved up, graded, and subdivided into neighborhoods. farms that tried to hang on were eventually driven out by the tax increases that followed the skyrocketing land prices. it started in fairfax county and has quickly crept to the surrounding counties.

                        you know you should fight this, but if you decide that you just want to have your farm - we'd love to have you in rappahannock. i'm hoping that our strict zoning laws and rural minded residents/activists (myself included) can fend off the developers here.
                        * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this SFVA. I've been keeping track, here and there, of your progress and I think it stinks that this is ruining your plans and joy with your new place.

                          You can just imagine what we go through here on LI, where land is scarce and expensive, taxes are high and more and more people move further east from the city, with their crowded urban mindset.

                          I'm sorry I can't offer you any real solution. The options I've discovered here are to simply decide whether you want to fight (at whatever emotional & financial costs) or flee.

                          I can, however, offer you big cyber hugs, the understanding of one who's dealt with the same issues, an ear when you need to vent and my good wishes that you can resolve this quickly and to your satisfaction.

                          Edited because I clearly can't type to save my life.
                          www.sandbarequinetransport.com

                          Proud member of the ILMD[FN]HP and Bull Snap Haters Cliques

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Stuff like this just makes me very angry. I was raised in Fairfax City back in the 50's and 60's. Great place to grow up. My brother lives in Sterling now, works as a surveyor and told me whole huge old neighborhoods were being bought out, razed, and townhomes being built--more people per square inch. My old neighborhood is still intact (for the moment), but last time I was there several years ago, didn't recognize much at all. My brother is disgusted with the whole area and ready to move. What use to be great horse areas (manassas and clifton) don't exist any longer.
                            GOLF COURSES: just a waste of valuable pasture land.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This all started with new Fed regs. about 2 yrs ago and all VA counties are on the bandwagon - when they want to be! You need to look at the state regulations for agriculture including soil conservation and land disturbance - agriculture is specifically exempt, and that is anything over 5 acres zoned for ag. We had to fight it for a riding ring, pasture clearing, etc. It took enought folks locally challenging the zoning police to make the county officials look at the state regs. and realize they were out of line. Incidently we are not in a subdivision and have 39 acres. They were taking it out of context and twisting it the way they wanted it. It took several mad "farmers" to make enough of an issue out of it to finally bring some logic into play. Look at the state regs real carefully, this stuff is meant for "developers" not farmers. It was a battle initially, but for our county finally common sense seems to have prevailed. Don't give up, know all the regs and beat them at their own arguement. Good luck!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I live in Western Loudoun as well and am frustrated with the same issues. Those of you who live in Rappahannock and other more rual counties, where do you find jobs?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Mel, I have nothing to add except that REALLY sucks! I hope it all works out for you. My ex SIL had similar problems but it was in D.C. and the neighbor used historic codes to try and block her construction (which didn't comprimise that ratty house her neighbor lived in anyway). She won out in the end, ut it was costly!!
                                  The truth is rarely pure, and never simple. Oscar Wilde

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have a 30 acre farm in Western Loudoun, and I know it is just a matter of time before we are run out of here. They are building all around us - all I hear all day is the sound of heavy machinery. My "new to the country" neighbors drive on the gravel road that bisects my farm like it is the autobahn, cell phones to their ears. Their kids ride their expensive new 4-wheelers up and down the road, on my grass etc.. There is NO respect for my property or my business. This is not a nice place to live any more.
                                    The sad thing is that while all these supervisors and developers are making so much money on the land, they have put restrictions so that I can't subdivide or build another home on the property. So they make out, and I can only sell this as a farm in an area that doesn't want farms. Great. I am hoping things change at some point.
                                    However, I have been approached about putting a cell phone tower on my silo and I just might go ahead and do it - would serve all of them right!
                                    But ditto on the question - how do we make a living going further away?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My husband was raised in Northern Virginia but is originally from the south western area near Roanoke. My dream, after living and working in the DC area, was a farm in Loudoun. By the time I could afford it, well, just say two years ago we escaped back home (my home) to South Carolina (after I inherited farm property here) where this is not YET an issue (and will never be on that scale). I really really really liked Virginia but the Northern part is being ruined. Jobs in the southwestern part are even scarcer than here. I'm still only employed part-time and not in my chosen field, my husband is retired. It's a GOOD thing cost of living is lower here. Cell tower -- we are so remote here that there was NO cell coverage and the land line coverage is not the best. We worked a deal with the phone company to put a cell tower on our property, might as well let the woods here earn their keep (this is a different property, we don't live on the farm).
                                      Freaky Farm Hermit Clique
                                      Mighty Thoroughbred Clique COMH Page: Tory Relic

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        The great irony with these neighbors is that they actually DO want lots of the country things. Just not in what was "their" open space. They want dark nights, no light pollution (I am not an outdoor light person) and in theory, they are just angry because they don't like WHERE on my property I placed the buildings. In March, the husband came out yelling at my excavator. Then he called the county to complain about my driveway causing standing water on his driveway (uh, it hadn't even rained, and then that made the soil & erosion control guy show up regularly to ding me on the silt fence that kept getting ripped up by the winds). I could keep going on the list of complaints, but I have to do some work!

                                        I will come back and post more later....I have a meeting.

                                        Mel

                                        My property surrounds theirs on 2 sides.

                                        Comment

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