Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) Program

Agriculture and forestry are the leading industries in the County, and a critical mass of farm and forest land is necessary for the continued vitality of the farm and forest businesses here. The County’s Comprehensive Plan supports balanced land uses while preserving the rural character of the community.  The Economic Development Strategic Plan recognizes the immense value in retaining these critical industries as part of our business community in Isle of Wight, and land preservation assists in this effort.Adopted in May of 2005, the Purchase of Agricultural and Forestal Conservation Easements (PACE)

Program is a voluntary program that allows landowners to enter into agreements to sell the development potential of qualifying property to the County while maintaining the right to farm and forest the land. This retains these two industries’ critical masses, in particular, farm and forestry parcels that are economically viable operations. By participating in the PACE Program a landowner has the opportunity to sell a conservation easement to the County, a public agency, to be held in trust for perpetuity.

The PACE Program held its first application period from March 1 to May 15, 2007, in which it received twenty-eight applications for over 3,100 acres of farm and forest land in Isle of Wight County. The overwhelming interest in the Program has shown the strong commitment to preserving the businesses of farming and forestry in the County. Although the County is not able to purchase all of the development rights on every application at this time, it is very encouraging to see the extremely large interest in the Program. Farm and forest lands provide numerous benefits to all citizens including a safe, affordable food supply, clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and beautiful views, among many others. The County is very excited at the opportunities for partnerships with local landowners to preserve the quality of life that all citizens enjoy.

To show the value of forestry to Isle of Wight’s economy, the Virginia Department of Forestry prepared this presentation.

The PACE Committee

The PACE Committee is appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is responsible for establishing ranking criteria to evaluate applications to the Program, recommending funding mechanisms and determining payment to landowners accepted into the Program, determining a method for valuing development rights, determining targeted areas for preservation, and evaluating applications for acceptance into the Program.

Committee Bylaws (PDF)

Committee Members
Tom Alphin, Vice-Chairman
Bryan Babb
Pete Carr
Kevin Sutton
Jimmy Oliver

Ex-Officio Committee Members (non-voting):
Virginia Department of Forestry – John Rose
Peanut Soil and Water Conservation District – Tara Outland-Williams, District Manager
Virginia Cooperative Extension IoW County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent – Janet Spencer
IoW County Planning and Zoning – Beverly Walkup, Director
PACE Program Administrator – Rachel Chieppa, Rural Economic Development Manager, Secretary


PACE Program Receives Grant Funds from State

Isle of Wight County has received over $1.4 million in matching funds from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation

Attention apotential applicants!

Due to the current financial market situation, Isle of Wight County has postponed additional application rounds at this time. The County fully intends to follow through on its commitments from those applications chosen for purchase in the original 2007 application round. The County is proceeding forward with the remaining applications at this time.

At this time it is uncertain when the next application round will be. Please check back on this website or contact 757-357-6126 for further information.

Meeting Minutes (PDF)
February 2007
January 2007
December, 2006
October, 2006
July, 2006
June, 2006
May, 2006
March, 2006
February, 2006
January, 2006
November, 2005
December, 2005

Program Specifics

To see the informational presentation given at the Public Meeting held on Monday, February 26, 2007, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions


Ranking Criteria (PDF)

Target Areas (PDF)

PACE Program 2006 Annual Report

PACE Program 2007 Annual Report

Post Ordinance

PACE Ordinance (PDF)
Adopted in May of 2005 by the Board of Supervisors.

Virginia’s Office of Farmland Preservation

Recognizing the significance of the loss of agricultural land and forests and the negative impact it would have on the state, the 2001 Virginia General Assembly established the Office of Farmland Preservation within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help. The General Assembly charged the Office with four important missions:

To work with other governmental and private organizations to help establish local purchase of development rights (PDR) programs by creating model policies and practices, establishing criteria to certify programs as eligible to receive funds from public sources, and determining methods and sources of funding for localities to purchase agricultural conservation easements
To create programs to educate the public about the importance of farmland preservation
To help farmers with farmland preservation efforts
To administer the Virginia Farm Link program
Kevin Schmidt is the Coordinator of the Office of Farmland Preservation. Click to view the press release.