This will apply to more than 4,000 semi-rural residential parcels in the Brentsville, Gainesville, Coles, Neabsco, and Occoquan, Districts will now be allowed to have cattle on their property if they so choose. The county’s planning office says the new rule “provides increased flexibility in allowing the keeping of cattle on agricultural zoned land in areas of the county that have already been recognized for their rural characteristics.” According to county staff, an existing or future HOA could prohibit cattle in their neighborhoods, just as they can prohibit other livestock.
Following the passing of the Cattle Zoning Text Amendment which will allow in certain parts of the county on two or more acres to own cattle, Supervisor Kenny Boddye issued a directive instructing county staff to look into the ‘environmental impacts’ of the Board’s decision. The recorded directive was:
DIR 21-09 Boddye :Environmental Impacts of ZTA #DPA2021-00005, Cattle
“Staff was directed to research the potential environmental impacts of the recent Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) adopted by the Board on February 2, 2021, in relation to cattle. Where feasible, this analysis should include, but not be limited to, impacts on air, soil and water quality, potential surface and overland water runoff, impacts on native flora and fauna, impacts on septic systems, sewer systems, wells, and aquafers.”
As any regular reader probably knows I am most concerned about water quality impacts and how this will effect compliance with the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. Overstocking causes most of the water quality damage on small-scale livestock farms and hobby horse farms. It occurs when too many animals are kept on too few acres. Overstocking can strip areas of pasture, increasing polluted runoff. Good environmental stewardship of these properties can go a long way in making hobby agriculture sustainable.
Another Zoning Text Amendment adopted in February to establish the Agritourism and Arts Overlay District (AAOD). Eligible Properties are all properties in the Rural Area zoned A-1 with 2 or more Acres and all properties in the Development Area zoned A-1 with 20 Acres or more. The light green and darker green areas on the map below.
New Agritourism uses which will be allowed or no longer require a special use permit are:
- Retail area for selling goods and related products
- Weddings and events
- Instructional teaching related to on site agricultural uses
- Trail, Playgrounds, or equipment, such as slides, swings, climbing and bouncing apparatus
- Wagon, sleigh, and hayrides
- Arts related uses
- Art studio, gallery, and/or classes
- Culinary classes
- Pottery/ceramics studio
- Flower shop
- Photographic studio