How old is the concept of the Rural Crescent?

The draft 2012 Strategic Plan claims the 1998 Comprehensive Plan made a major change to previous plans by creating the Rural and Development land use areas. You might assume that until 1998, all of the county was planned to be developed into urban or suburban density, and parcels in the Rural Crescent were just “unzoned land” waiting to be developed into subdivisions.

However, as far back as 1964 when the initial land use plan for PW County was drafted, it was clear that development should be concentrated where services (especially sewer) could be provided – and some areas in the county should remain “rural in character.” 

You can see the concept of a rural area defined as the Large Estate and Agriculture district on the proposed (but never adopted) 1964 Generalized Land Use Plan.

The 1990 Comprehensive Plan made very clear that a rural area should be preserved, and public infrastructure to support new development should be minimized in that area.

The 1990 Long Range Future Land Use Plan divided the county into four (4) Long Range Concept Areas. Concept Area I was intended to be developed to urban-level densities. Concept Areas II and III were intended to be the employment and residential zones.

The 1990 plan for Long Range Concept Area IV was:
This “rural” category consists primarily of agricultural, forestry, and large-lot residential areas. Other uses may include community facilities and other uses which promote land use “buffering,” such as the non-residential uses reflected by the Long Range Future Plan Use Plan Map in the vicinity of Independent Hill. These areas are not intended to be served by public water and sewer facilities, except under conditions as identified in the Water and Sewer Plan chapters.

The significant change in the 1998 designation of the Rural Area was the definition for a larger lot size for that zone. 

The 1990 plan had projected development in Long Range Concept Area IV of 1-5 acre lots in a Semi-Rural Residential (SRR) zone and 5-10 acre lots in a Rural Residential (RR) zone, plus 10-acre lots in an Agricultural Estate (AE) zone.  The 1998 plan “downplanned” the Rural Area to 10-acre parcels in most cases.

Now we’re going through the next update to the Land Use chapter in the 2003 Comprehensive Plan.  Major changes in the Rural Area have not been proposed, and the pattern of building expensive “estate homes” on 10-acre lots is well underway.  Maybe the boundary, and development plans for parcels in the area, will stay unchanged.   (Primary changes being proposed in new Land Use Chapter are to increase development potential in 20+ various locations called “centers of community/commerce,” plus doubling the number of houses that could be built in the SRR area in the Coles Magisterial District.)

If you’re interested in ensuring the Rural Area stays intact, the schedule for making public comments at upcoming meetings to revise 2003 Comprehensive Plan is:
October 8 – Planning Commission public hearing on Transportation and Land Use chapters
November 18 – Board of County Supervisors public hearing on Transportation and Land Use chapters    



2 comments so far

  1. Mom on

    If you are concerned about the future of the Rural Crescent and the impact of development surrounding it, you should take a long hard look at REZ PLN2008-00668 as this monstrosity not only borders it but contains a portion of it.

  2. Rob Billingsley on

    Preserving the Rural Crescent is more than just setting up a plan. It means enforcing it by resisting all attempts to chip away at what “rural” really means. The upcoming Planning Commission Hearing on October 15 at the Supervisors facility at 7 pm is an important opportunity to preserve a small piece of the Crescent — Catharpin. The plan to put up flood lights at the ball fields in the new Sudley Park to encourage night time uses flies in the face of the purpose of the Rural Crescent.

    As described under the “Rural Area” section of the 1998 plan:

    … “Designation of the Rural Area and application of the development Goals, Policies and Action Strategies relative to the Rural Area are intended to help avoid the negative economic, social and environmental characteristics of sprawl development.”

    Sprawl isn’t just houses, but includes other urban attributes such as park lighting and the likely noise, late night traffic and other negative attributes that will be drawn to such a facility.

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