The Louisa County Board of Supervisors kicked off discussion of a proposal to increase the minimum lot size for new subdivisions in the county’s rural areas.
The board will decide whether to increase the minimum from 1.5 to 3.5 acres in the A-2 (Agricultural) zoning district. The county planning commission recommended the change to support the vision to preserve rural character outlined in the comprehensive plan, which was updated in 2019.
Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry District) was the only member to state his position at the outset of the discussion. He said raising the minimum lot size would be unfair to landowners and will make it more difficult for the county to address the affordable housing problem.
“I’m going to fight like hell on that one,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned in my years in Louisa is that people really value their landowner rights.”
Jeff Ferrel, assistant county administrator, said there are already up to 5,000 subdivided lots in the rural areas that have not been developed yet. Some 13,000 people could be added to the county’s current population of 36,000 if all of those lots are built on. And people keep building — the county has issued 326 new single-family home permits so far this year, up from 277 permits in 2019.
Even after the lot size is raised, property owners could request a rezoning from the board to create 1.5-acre lots, Ferrel said. But he said the larger lot size will help the county conserve money by directing most new development to its growth areas.
The lot size is less of a factor in whether land is subdivided than the county’s limit of seven new lots per parent parcel, mandated state roads and the cost of stormwater plans, said Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson District).
The board is considering several other changes to the zoning ordinance besides lot size, including growth area overlay districts and making some things that are currently allowed by-right in the rural areas subject to conditional use permits.
No community members spoke during the public hearing at the board’s Oct. 5 meeting. Supervisor Eric Purcell (Louisa District) asked for the hearing to be kept open for now while the board holds a work session on the proposed changes on Oct. 22.