River Place tract donated to Land Trust

Efforts to preserve rural land in Stafford County got a double boost this week.

First, the Land Trust of Virginia announced that developer Andy Garrett has given 101 acres along Aquia Creek—where he planned to build a residential community—to the trust to be placed in a conservation easement. Then, county officials announced that Stafford has received state grants totaling $111,618 to use as matching funds to preserve working farmland under its Purchase of Development Rights programs.

Garrett’s donation was the second to the trust by the president of the Garrett Cos., which develops residential and commercial sites in several states. Stafford County had approved a preliminary plan for a 27-lot subdivision on the site called River Place. The Land Trust of Virginia plans to place the wooded property into conservation easement then sell it to a landowner committed to preserving it.

The Land Trust of Virginia said Garrett’s donation will bring its total to 175 easements protecting 19,228 acres in 15 counties across Virginia.

Stafford was one of six localities in the state to receive grants this week for farmland preservation through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It was the eighth grant, for a total of more than $1.5 million, the county has received through the program over the years.

Stafford matches the state awards to create purchase of development rights programs, which compensate landowners who agree to preserve their land permanently by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement.

The county has seven farms totaling 659 acres in the program, Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Snellings said in a news release.

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