City Open Space Preservation

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Land Conservation Action Since 1990

In the city’s Future Land Use plan, 23% of our 9 square miles are designated for parks and recreation and environmental (conservation, environmentally sensitive and water areas) land use. In addition, 25% of the land in the city is under the stewardship of either the College of William and Mary or Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

In the city’s Future Land Use Plan, 6% of the land is designated as part of the Downtown and Midtown Planning Areas. In these areas, the city allows greater residential density with a special use permit, based on the quality, scale and character of the design. This will help to counter urban sprawl in the greater Williamsburg area.

A total of 60% of the land in the city is in either a Resource Management Area or a Resource Protection Area under the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance.

According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Regulation in a 2005 compliance review, “The City’s consistent enforcement of its Chesapeake Bay Protection Act program over the past 14 years, its innovative water quality protection and open space preservation, marks the City of Williamsburg as an outstanding local partner in the protection and improvement of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s natural environment.”

The city controls a total of 2835 acres of open space watershed property in York County surrounding Waller Mill Reservoir.

Since 1990, the city has acquired and set aside nearly 400 acres of property as open space in the watershed, plus 194 acres of forested land for conservation within the city limits:

• Purchase of Conservation Easement over the Darst Farm in York County (131 acres) in 1991. This farm now borders Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and Great Wolf Lodge and buffers Waller Mill Reservoir from these intense developments.

• Purchase of several other smaller parcels totaling 132 acres in the Waller Mill Watershed since 1993 (Ewell Industrial Park, Hooker Farm, lots on Rochambeau Drive, etc.)

• Purchase of Mershon Property (131 acres) in 1997, and the Royals Property (70 acres to remain undeveloped) in 2001, for watershed protection.

• Swap with conservation easements of Papermill Creek property in 1997 and College Woods property between the College and city preserving 70 acres as open space in the city limits.

• Purchase and preservation of 100 acres in 1998 of Geddy property that would have been developed as another section of the Holly Hills subdivision. This preserves the College Creek view shed.

• Acquisition of “Redoubt Park” of 21 acres in 2006 with Riverside’s “Quarterpath” development.

• Purchase of 3 acres in 2008 behind the Strawberry Plains neighborhood adjacent to the College of William and Mary’s College Woods property.


Updated 6/19/2017