Manual of the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council

Published by the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council
In 1971, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law permitting localities to adopt a program of special assessments for agricultural, horticultural, forest and open space lands (Sections 58.1-3229 through 58.1-3244 of the Code of Virginia). While the purpose language originally outlined in Section 58.1-3229 has since been removed, as established at that time, the purpose of the program was stated as the following:

• To encourage the preservation and proper use of such real estate in order to assure a readily available source of agricultural, horticultural and forest products and of open spaces within the reach of concentrations of population,

• To conserve natural resources in forms which will prevent erosion and to protect adequate and safe water supplies,

• To preserve scenic natural beauty and open spaces,

• To promote proper land-use planning and the orderly development of real estate for the accommodation of an expanding population, and

• To promote a balanced economy and ameliorate pressures which force conversion of such real estate to more intensive uses and which are attributable in part to the assessment of such real estate at values incompatible with its use and preservation for agricultural, horticultural, forest or open space purposes.

The Code sets out some basic prerequisites for a landowner wishing to qualify for use-value Assessments. At the same time, the Code also assigns responsibility for prescribing uniform standards for qualification to the Commission of Agriculture and Consumer Services (agricultural and horticultural lands), the State Forester (forest lands), and the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (open space lands). Further, to aid the localities in arriving at use-value assessments, the law has established the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council (SLEAC), composed of these four departments plus the Tax Commissioner, and the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Each year the Council determines and publishes ranges of suggested values for several classes of agricultural, horticultural, forest and open space land in the localities having such a program. The local assessing officer uses these ranges along with his personal knowledge of use values in the area and the other available evidence of land capability in arriving at the official use-value assessment of any parcel of land.

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