A. Land lying within a district and used in agricultural or forestal production shall automatically qualify for an agricultural or forestal use-value assessment pursuant to Article 4 (§ 58.1-3229 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1, if the requirements for such assessment contained therein are satisfied. Any ordinance adopted pursuant to § 15.2-4303 shall extend such use-value assessment and taxation to eligible real property within such district whether or not a local ordinance pursuant to § 58.1-3231 has been adopted.
B. No local government shall exercise any of its powers to enact local laws or ordinances within a district in a manner which would unreasonably restrict or regulate farm structures or farming and forestry practices in contravention of the purposes of this chapter unless such restrictions or regulations bear a direct relationship to public health and safety. The comprehensive plan and zoning and subdivision ordinances shall be applicable within said districts, to the extent that such ordinances are not in conflict with the conditions to creation or continuation of the district set forth in the ordinance creating or continuing the district or the purposes of this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall affect the authority of the locality to regulate the processing or retail sales of agricultural or forestal products, or structures therefor, in accordance with the local comprehensive plan or any local ordinances. Local ordinances, comprehensive plans, land use planning decisions, administrative decisions and procedures affecting parcels of land adjacent to any district shall take into account the existence of such district and the purposes of this chapter.
C. It shall be the policy of all agencies of the Commonwealth to encourage the maintenance of farming and forestry in districts and all administrative regulations and procedures of such agencies shall be modified to this end insofar as is consistent with the promotion of public health and safety and with the provisions of any federal statutes, standards, criteria, rules, regulations, or policies, and any other requirements of federal agencies, including provisions applicable only to obtaining federal grants, loans or other funding.
D. No special district for sewer, water or electricity or for nonfarm or nonforest drainage may impose benefit assessments or special tax levies on the basis of frontage, acreage or value on land used for primarily agricultural or forestal production within a district, except a lot not exceeding one-half acre surrounding any dwelling or nonfarm structure located on such land. However, such benefit assessment or special ad valorem levies may continue if imposed prior to the formation of the district.
1977, c. 681, § 15.1-1512; 1979, c. 377; 1987, c. 552; 1997, c. 587.