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Panorama Farms is a true example of farmland conservation. Comprising 1,038 acres, it is located along the South Fork of the Rivanna River and adjacent to the Rivanna Reservoir, the primary source of public potable water for Charlottesville/Albemarle County. Its owners, recognizing the futility of small farm cattle production at the time, elected to develop a small portion of the property into low-density residential use with the stipulation that such development would protect the reservoir through the use of low-impact development strategies and conservation easements. As a result, a cluster residential plan far removed from the reservoir was implemented leaving more than 800 acres permanently dedicated to agriculture and outdoor recreational activities. This was the first residential development of this type in the County of Albemarle and was an early precursor for the Rural Preservation Development Ordinance.

Today, the undeveloped portion of the farm serves as a cultural amenity for the region. The farm and its picturesque rolling terrain hosts numerous cross-country invitationals and dual meets, bringing in teams from all over the state. Income is also derived from fee-based mountain bike trails, seasonal dove hunting and, most significantly, a thriving composting business that serves the Central Virginia region.

Inspired by the owner’s dedication to and strong belief in conscientious planning and rural land protection, our team employed innovative solutions to create this economically viable and environmentally responsible land-use model in lieu of a traditional by-right residential subdivision.

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