Orange County Land Use Dispute

By: Michael Gorsegner Email
By: Michael Gorsegner Email

March 1, 2007

A proposed ordinance could change the way rural land owners subdivide their land, causing quite a stir in Orange County.

"It's a great way to live," said John Bangs.

John and Carla Bangs moved to this 36 acre piece of property in Orange County seven years ago in hopes of getting away from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. With the County growing nearly five percent a year, Bangs says he is worried that hustle and bustle is not far behind.

"Growth is going to happen but I would like to see it happen in a controlled nature," Bangs said.

He believes a proposed ordinance that would only allow a rural land owner to subdivide their property once every four years would help sustain the rural character of Orange. But it's an idea that is meeting some opposition.

"Naturally it's got to grow. With the jobs in Washington and the surrounding area, Orange County has got to have some growth," said former Orange County Supervisor Grover Wilson.

Wilson has lived in the County his entire life. He says most long time farmers have their life savings tied up in land. He feels if the ordinance changes from the four division in four years, it will make selling land in times of need awful difficult.

"If you want to cut off two acres of land in Orange County, it will take you 11 months to do it. That is far to long for someone to have to wait to sell a lot off," Wilson said.

Whatever the formula, the Piedmont Environmental Council says a change is necessary.

"We have recognized it being a problem for three years. I say now is the time to fix it before any further damage is done," said Dan Holmes.

There have been several scenarios considered over the three years, a four divisions in four years which is the present ordinance, a three in 10 years, and this current one in four years. All of the ordinances have been met with mixed reaction from the community.

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