Changes to land-use regulations affect area agriculture

April 18, 2005|by DAVE MCMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The types of agriculture being allowed in Jefferson County are expanding, and the possibilities range from grape production to beekeeping.

The new allowances are part of recent changes in the county's land-use regulations.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb said the expanded agricultural operations are designed to adapt to changing market conditions in the agriculture industry.

In recent years, agriculture officials have focused their efforts on helping the future of the county's agriculture industry.

There has been increased interest in preserving the local agriculture economy, particularly in light of the area's population growth.

Agriculture officials have sought to create an economic environment where traditional and nontraditional agricultural operations can thrive.

Historically, the main agriculture operations in the county have been centered around grain, beef and milk production.

Under land-use regulations passed by the Jefferson County Commissioners about three weeks ago, agricultural operations now allowed in the county include aquaculture, which is the raising of water plants and animals for human consumption; viticulture, which is the cultivation of grapes; apiculture, which is beekeeping; pick your own farm products; farm breweries and wineries; rental of garden plots; and agricultural tourism.


The new regulations not only deal with new types of agriculture, but address how development occurs in the county.

The commissioners began considering new land-use laws following concerns about the rate of development in the county, large annexations of land by cities and other issues.

To help control growth in the county's agricultural zone, the commissioners changed a test developers must pass to build in the rural areas.

Under the Land Evaluation Site Assessment (LESA), developers are given points for requirements they meet regarding soil types, distance to growth corridors, proximity to schools and public water and sewer availability.

To make it more difficult to build in the rural area, points which were previously awarded to developers for water and sewer were taken out of the scoring process.

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