AC44 Phase 2: Rural Area Land Use and Transportation

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Albemarle County’s Rural Area is approximately 689 square miles in size (95% of the county’s land area) and is intended to provide land for conserving and restoring the natural environment, agriculture, and forestry. With the Growth Management Policy, the County has prioritized the preservation of the natural environment and agricultural, forestal, historic, cultural, and scenic resources in the Rural Area. These provide important benefits for both rural and urban residents including water and air quality, biodiversity, agricultural and silvicultural economic development, and climate resilience.

Approximately 109,900 acres (24.9% of the Rural Area) have been protected in conservation easements. Of that total, 30,305 acres are under easements held by the County and/or the Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority (ACEA).

Crossroads Communities

While new development is encouraged to occur primarily within the Development Areas, there are locations in the Rural Area with existing development, some of which are historic crossroads with existing small-scale commercial uses, or historic structures formerly used as stores, post offices, etc.

The current Comp Plan calls for identifying “crossroads communities” in the Rural Area that could ‘provide support services and opportunities to engage in community life’ for Rural Area community members. The Plan also encourages adaptive reuse of historic structures in crossroads communities, especially for small-scale uses such as country stores, offices, daycare, doctor/dentist offices, post offices, and community centers.

There is also the potential for ‘community resilience hubs’ in the Rural Area with an opportunity to provide or support additional services such as healthcare, food access/community gardens, emergency preparedness/response, and places for community gathering.

Building Upon the Work: Climate Action Plan

Many (though not all) of the large forest habitat blocks, habitat corridors, and other important habitat sites identified in the County’s Biodiversity Action Plan are found in the Rural Area. These areas provide numerous benefits to our community, including its biodiversity and resilience to the effects of climate change.

Between 2008 and 2016 (years for which we have data), forests and other natural land cover in the county sequestered on average nearly one million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, with forests contributing the most. Albemarle County’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Report observes, “the magnitude of the sequestration provided by local forests, trees, and other ecosystems emphasizes the importance of protecting these resources—to preserve their sequestration potential, to prevent large amounts of unnecessary emissions from forest loss, and for the many other benefits of healthy local forests.”

Encouraging new development to occur primarily in the Development Areas is a key aspect of the Growth Management Policy and protecting these priority natural areas in the Rural Area. From 2012 through 2022, about 84% of new homes were built in the Development Areas and 16% percent were built in the Rural Area.

Albemarle County’s Rural Area is approximately 689 square miles in size (95% of the county’s land area) and is intended to provide land for conserving and restoring the natural environment, agriculture, and forestry. With the Growth Management Policy, the County has prioritized the preservation of the natural environment and agricultural, forestal, historic, cultural, and scenic resources in the Rural Area. These provide important benefits for both rural and urban residents including water and air quality, biodiversity, agricultural and silvicultural economic development, and climate resilience.

Approximately 109,900 acres (24.9% of the Rural Area) have been protected in conservation easements. Of that total, 30,305 acres are under easements held by the County and/or the Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority (ACEA).

Crossroads Communities

While new development is encouraged to occur primarily within the Development Areas, there are locations in the Rural Area with existing development, some of which are historic crossroads with existing small-scale commercial uses, or historic structures formerly used as stores, post offices, etc.

The current Comp Plan calls for identifying “crossroads communities” in the Rural Area that could ‘provide support services and opportunities to engage in community life’ for Rural Area community members. The Plan also encourages adaptive reuse of historic structures in crossroads communities, especially for small-scale uses such as country stores, offices, daycare, doctor/dentist offices, post offices, and community centers.

There is also the potential for ‘community resilience hubs’ in the Rural Area with an opportunity to provide or support additional services such as healthcare, food access/community gardens, emergency preparedness/response, and places for community gathering.

Building Upon the Work: Climate Action Plan

Many (though not all) of the large forest habitat blocks, habitat corridors, and other important habitat sites identified in the County’s Biodiversity Action Plan are found in the Rural Area. These areas provide numerous benefits to our community, including its biodiversity and resilience to the effects of climate change.

Between 2008 and 2016 (years for which we have data), forests and other natural land cover in the county sequestered on average nearly one million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, with forests contributing the most. Albemarle County’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Report observes, “the magnitude of the sequestration provided by local forests, trees, and other ecosystems emphasizes the importance of protecting these resources—to preserve their sequestration potential, to prevent large amounts of unnecessary emissions from forest loss, and for the many other benefits of healthy local forests.”

Encouraging new development to occur primarily in the Development Areas is a key aspect of the Growth Management Policy and protecting these priority natural areas in the Rural Area. From 2012 through 2022, about 84% of new homes were built in the Development Areas and 16% percent were built in the Rural Area.
  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    A goal is a high-level and long-term direction to fulfill the vision and framework. An objective is a specific outcome or target that accomplishes a goal. The goals and objectives developed now, in Phase Two, will inform the action steps that will be drafted in Phase Three.


    The process of creating the Goals and Objectives included:

    • collaboration by an interdisciplinary team of County staff, in coordination with partner agencies
    • review of the current Comprehensive Plan
    • incorporating best planning practices utilized throughout the country
    • community, Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors input
    • AC44 Framework for an Equitable and Resilient Community 
      • "As we move toward 2044, Albemarle County aspires to be a community that is Green and Resilient, Welcoming and Equitable, Connected and Accessible, and Thriving and Prosperous"


    Read more about Rural Area Land Use and Transportation in the updated Topic Report.


    This questionnaire is designed for you to share your feedback on the draft Goals and Objectives for the Rural Area Land Use and Transportation chapter. Community input will be shared with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. The draft Goals and Objectives will be refined based on community, Commission, and Board feedback.  

    Share your feedback
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
Page last updated: 29 Mar 2024, 08:26 AM