Shenandoah Forum believes planning for sustainable land use is critical to maintaining our rural quality of life, the agricultural and tourism sectors of our economy and the traditional settlement patterns and historic fabric of our towns.

During the colonial times, the Old Valley Pike was one of the most important frontier roads in America. Today it continues to be a vital part of the Shenandoah County's present and future.
Landowner Resources

Want to make sure your land stays in farming or forestry? Here are some options available to help landowners in Shenandoah County.

Right to Farm Laws

Despite opposition from some of the top farm counties in the state, including Shenandoah County, legislation passed in 2014 will essentially ban all local restrictions on farm sales and activities unless the localities can demonstrate a "substantial impact on the health, safety or general welfare of the public." This new legislation leaves  the burden on localities to comb through existing ordinances to determine if changes are needed to conform with new rules.

Shenandoah Forum will continue to look for ways to meet the mandates while retaining adequate local authority over potential land use conflicts.

County Ordinance Revision
In 2010, as the culmination of more than five years of work and lots of community input, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors adopted a major overhaul of its rural zoning and subdivision ordinance to address the goals of the vision statement of the county's comprehensive plan. The Forum looks forward to working with local residents and elected officials to implement the components of the rural areas plan.

Land Protection Funding
Approval by the Shenandoah County Supervisors in October 2011
to fund a local conservation program made it possible for the county to receive a state match. As one of only thirteen localities in Virginia, Shenandoah County was awarded $105,000 from the Virginia Office of Farmland Preservation making Shenandoah County one of the first in the valley to fund a conservation program. Shenandoah Forum continues to work with the county's Conservation Easement Authority as they seek  a permanent funding source.
Compatible Economic Development
Just as the land use plan for the county seeks to promote healthy rural areas and historic towns, the county's economic development plan should offer clear goals to strengthen appropriate economic activities in both our rural and developed areas. In July 2011, Shenandoah County officials formed a new steering committee to develop a plan for the county's economic development. Shenandoah Forum immediately offered support for this initiative asking the committee to consider extending the scope beyond our industrial and commercial areas to include our rural areas; our farmland, our forest, tourism and recreational sectors. It should also focus on opportunities for current county residents, particularly the underemployed and underskilled, to identify needed training or recruitment.
Stormwater Regulations
We work with county officials and other community groups focussed on land use and water quality to support the best possible programs and planning for stormwater  management to ensure protection of our rivers and drinking waters in Shenandoah County.

George Washington National Forest
With more than 80,000 acres of George Washington National Forest within Shenandoah County, planning for the forest land is of particular relevance and importance to Shenandoah County residents. The U.S. Forest Service released the draft management plan for the George Washington National Forest, which will guide activities on 1.1 million acres of public lands for the next 15 years, on Nov 18, 2014.

Shenandoah Forum supports the recent plan and the Forest Service's decision to protect the integrity of the GWNF by restricting oil and gas drilling.

Industrial wind energy emerged as a major land use issue for Shenandoah County in 2008, with unofficial reports that FreedomWorks LLC of Harpers Ferry, WVA was considering plans to build a massive project (130 turbines, each 440-feet tall) along the ridgelines of the George Washington National Forest. In response Shenandoah Forum held a series of Wind Energy Forums to learn more about the topic.
Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling
The Commonwealth of Virginia had its first Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling application for a drilling permit in Rockingham County in 2010. This process requires a technique called hydrofracturing which involves the injection of high volumes of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground to breakdown rock formations and release natural gas.  There are unknown and unintended consequences of this technology, including potential contamination of ground and surface water.

Shenandoah Forum will continue to monitor the issue of Marcellus Shale as it relates to our county and the region. 

For more information on the Rockingham County application and gas drilling, 
see the Shenandoah Valley Network website.
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