Allow Events at Roslyn Farm
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"We are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment." -- Alexia Richards, co-owner of Roslyn Farm.
Who We Are:
Roslyn Farm: Alexia & Richard
We are twenty something entrepreneurial artist/farmer team dedicated to sustainable living and unparalleled hospitality. Believers in the power of the share economy it is our mission to preserve the rural area through unconventional and innovative enterprises. Empowering farmers with the creative tools to survive and the deserved access to the marketplace is absolutely essential to keeping the family farm viable. Through combined talents and passion for open space we are building a business that both honors this property and best serves our community. Uniquely situated in Albemarle County’s “urban ring” and just 2 miles from the University of Virginia, we are committed to our responsibility as proprietors, and more importantly, as agricultural educators, able to provide access to horseback riding and farming within both a lower income and urbanized population.
With a focus on growing and raising our food requirements on site, creating products and services sustained entirely by the farm, and supporting local vendors for what it can't, we are as follows:
- Working Farm: Hereford beef, poultry, ducks, dairy goats, etc.
- Bed & Breakfast, Airbnb Lodging
- Wedding & Event Hospitality
- Equestrian Center: Boarding, Lessons, Sales, Summer Program
- Fine Art & Photography Services
- Small Vineyard
What we are fighting for:
For three years now we have been trying to obtain a Special Use Permit in Albemarle County for the right to host just 24 events on our property, up to 150 people per event. The Right to Farm Act gave all rural area properties the right to host these sorts of events. Albemarle County disagrees, and only allows this by right use to farm wineries, cideries, and distilleries, avoiding the Boneta Bill by arguing that wedding and events are not considered "usual and customary" uses of a farm.
This fight is personal for us. We are currently waking at sunrise and working tirelessly until 3-4:00am. Every day. Seven days a week. Running a business is incredibly hard work, but we are entrepreneurs and we are built for it. However, running that same business, marketing, managing day to day operations, teaching, farming, creating, in ADDITION to fighting for our rights as a rural property is a perilous barrier to success. Not only is it a formidable hurdle, the consequences of further delaying this use prevent financing and private investment opportunities that ensure both the conservation of this property and the community's continued access to our farm. We would love to get back to the business of farming, instead of fighting for a piece of paper that gives us permission from the government to have access to the exact same market we are already serving. Permission to use our property for what it was built for and deserves.
Roslyn Farm is magical. I have loved it my entire life. We are a strong, viable, exciting new business, completely energized by the people who have been drawn to us and the far-reaching community we have built around ourselves. Part of the Special Use Permit process is to justify to the government the "public need or benefit" of our project as well as "how the proposed use will be in harmony with our current by-right uses." In the last year alone we have had to deny hundreds of requests to host events on our property, many from clients we are already serving "by-right" so I would argue that the public not only needs it, they have demanded it. I am not sure what is more convincing than the power of the free market, so let's help encourage our County Board of Supervisors to support this use by first speaking their language:
Conformity with the goals of Albemarle County and the Comprehensive Plan
In the Rural Area chapter of the Comprehensive Plan it is stated that the County should "Encourage creative and diverse forms of rural production and support rural land uses that provide land owners with economic viability." Scott Clark, who we are working with from the Planning Commission has stated in previous SP requests from similar farms: "Income from this use would help to support agricultural land uses and land preservation in the Rural Areas, as recommended by the Comp. Plan."
Our neighbor and most outspoken opponent, former County Supervisor, Dennis Rooker, stated in 2012 when Panorama Farm obtained the same Special Use Permit: “The state has basically tied localities’ hands with respect to … the regulation of events that can be held at wineries [...] Now we’re going to extend that and say, because wineries can do these things, we should allow any piece of rural property throughout the county to do these things."
Our proposed use is reversible, meaning we are utilizing existing structures, parking is on pervious (grass) surfaces, and therefore "the land can easily return to farming, forestry, conservation, or other preferred rural uses."
Our proposed use is scaled and sited to cause minimal impacts on our rural surrounding. The remaining 90% of our surroundings is urban, development area.
Our proposed use is viable with no increase in public infrastructure or services, either at time of approval or later.
Our proposed use has no environmental impact. In fact, it helps ensure we can afford to conserve our property in the best possible way.
Our proposed use has no impact on the health, safety, or wellbeing of adjacent properties, roads, neighbors, or the community as a whole.
Our proposed use includes appropriate management plans for traffic and sound, and will therefore mitigate any of those concerns. We believe it is important to note that unlike many other Rural Areas throughout the County, our surrounding threshold of development area noise, traffic, and light pollution is infinitely greater. Our proposed use would not increase or overwhelm these pollution centers and in fact, it is outside noise and light that is already disruptive to our farming operation and would provide a detriment to our proposed use. Therefore, complaints of noise should only be considered if they are to be above the current threshold of sound.
Current Ambient Development Area Sound:
- Airplanes flying immediately over the farm to reach airport
- Traffic from Hydraulic and Lamb's Road
- Sirens from Berkmar Fire House and County fueling station
- Albemarle High School Band Practices
- Albemarle High School Athletic Events
Current Traffic Pollution
- At present, neither VDOT or Albemarle County has been willing to claim the storm water runoff drain (as result of the expansion of Hydraulic Road) that pours roadway runoff directly into our front pasture, down our creek, into our pond, and immediately into the Watershed. In the most recent correspondence with both parties, it was suggested that our neighbors are "probably more upset about you having cows, than about this stormwater."
As a private resident, business owner, and farmer, I am interested in how Albemarle County can better control these sources of pollution and their impacts to both our farming operation and business model. Additionally, we have done everything we can to mitigate cattle and equine pollution to the watershed by appropriately fencing off all access points to springs, ponds, creeks, and waterways. We should not also have to fence off a jagged, exposed, five by five diameter storm drain that juts out into our field, is a danger to our livestock, and a detriment to our very own farm water supply, and then be questioned about our environmental sustainability.
Location, Location, Location
If you are unfamiliar with the area, we are located within, and have hundreds of feet of road frontage along Hydraulic Road. Hydraulic Road is also home to hard zoning and major development, with a very small percentage zoned Rural Area, and certainly only one property (Roslyn Farm) operating as bona fide agriculture.
Located on less than a mile stretch of Hydraulic Road, and within a half mile radius of Roslyn Farm:
- Albemarle High School
- Stonefield Shopping Center including such retail as Regal Cinema, Trader Joe's, LL Bean, Brooks Brothers, Vineyard Vines, apartment buildings and condominiums.
- Hyatt Place Hotel
- Numerous commercial restaurants
- Numerous commercial office buildings
- Two subdivisions once belonging to, and named after Roslyn Farm: Roslyn Heights & Roslyn Ridge Subdivisions
- More than five churches
- Lower income and Section 8 housing
- Mobile home parks
- Planned Parenthood
Roslyn Farm only serves to greatly enhance this corridor and to contribute to both neighboring residences and relevant businesses already in existence. Additionally, the proposed use will promote appropriate and desirable development growth in the portion of Hydraulic Road that is not zoned RA, in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and the ideas set forth by the Places29-Hydraulic Road CAC*, drawing new and relevant businesses to the area, further supported by our use.
*Because of our zoning, Roslyn Farm is not technically located in the portion of Hydraulic Road controlled by the Places29-Hydraulic Road CAC, but we have been asked to host our community meeting as part of their agenda, even though it is not a requirement of our Special Use Permit, and there is no Rural Area or agricultural liaison within this committee to support us. We oblige, and look forward to the challenge, but reserve the right to host our own Community Meeting on our own terms, as provided by law in our Special Use Application process.
We are asking for your support within our community. Please consider signing, sharing, and commenting on this petition to let the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors know just how important our project is and why you think it would benefit our area.
Additional Contact Information
Alexia Albrecht Richards:
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