Underwood Farms
Culpeper County, Virginia
email me
Summer 2010

This year has been challenging for the Culpeper Board of Supervisors, with reduced revenues, increased demand for services, and the effects of the depression.

In 2010, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to not increase any tax rates.  Real estate was not reassessed, and many categories of personal property declined in value.  Therefore, tax revenue to Culpeper County declined.  Accordingly, there were personnel reductions in many county departments.

The town and county agreed in principal, once again, on a long-term water and sewer agreement.  Per terms of the 30-year agreement, the town will now serve water and sewer customers in the town environs at the same rate as town customers are charged.  The agreement calls for the town to expand north, to include businesses up to VSR 666.  Affected businesses will be Lowe’s, Martin’s, Target, and other retailers in the area.  Further town boundary expansion is possible in a decade.

I believe there is a meeting of the minds between town and county officials, and unless public input dictates otherwise, I expect the agreement to be finalized in short order.

The 2010 Comprehensive Plan will be considered for adoption at the Board’s August 2010 meeting.  I personally believe that the plan is a significant improvement over the 2005 Plan, although there are still too many potential encroachments on property rights.  It truly is a battle to protect the rights of owners from the onslaught of ideas from others that wish to improve the community by limiting property rights.

Your Board is now in the process of systematically revising its land-use ordinances.  The family subdivision ordinance is currently being revised.  Changes will make it more difficult to qualify for family divisions, with a five year period of prior ownership being required and a five year holding period after division being required.  The requirement to build on the lot is being removed.  I as a strong advocate of property rights, and I believe rights should apply equally to all.  Therefore, exceptions such as family subdivision should be rare. 

Next, the Board will address commercial and industrial zoning.  The plan is to simplify the districts and the ordinance in general.  Additionally, I believe commercial and industrial districts should have no more residential rights than agricultural and rural areas.  Currently, many landowners view commercial zoning as the top-level zoning, meaning land zoned commercially has the most rights, land zoned residentially has fewer rights, and land zoned rural/agriculturally has the least rights.  I personally believe in making it as easy as possible for businesses to be started and to expand, and commercial zoning that is specifically commercial may help.  Some people note that mixed uses are appropriate in some areas, and I agree.  Culpeper currently has mixed-use zoning, and hopefully it will apply to more areas in the future.

Next year, we will begin focusing on Agriculture (A1) and Rural Area (RA) zoning.  The issue will be very contentious, because over 80% of the land in Culpeper County is zoned A1 and RA.  The test that I outlined when campaigning was that any zoning change needs to improve the quality of life for constituents while not decreasing land values.  There is much room to actually improve quality of life and potentially increase land values.  I published a plan in 2005 that I believe would accomplish both goals.  After talking to other members of the Board and the Planning Commission about the plan, I believe it can be enhanced. 

Thank you for your support, and please let me know how I can serve you better by calling me at 547-2742 or e-mailing me at tunderwood@culpepercounty.gov.

Tom Underwood
Culpeper County Board of Supervisors
Salem District
December 7, 2008

Polled Hereford Cattle