Land Use Assessment Program

Print
Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option
The Land Use Assessment Program is administered by our department. This is an assessment program that is permitted by state law and ordinance for Accomack County by the Board of Supervisors. It allows for the special assessment of property used for agricultural, forest, and horticultural purposes.

The General Assembly has held that the preservation of special use land is vital to the public interest. Taxation on the basis of use-value is an attempt to help preserve rural lands in the face of rapid intensive-use development, to help preserve natural resources, and to help provide for the orderly development of real estate.

Use-value is the value that a tract of real estate has solely in the use being made of it without regard for any other possible contribution of value such as location or alternative use. It is the value that the total estimated capitalized net earnings indicate could be paid for the tract with the future earnings paying an interest return on the capital. The future earnings could come from cash rents paid for using the property or from net incomes earned from the property. The concept of highest and best use is integral in any determination of a property’s market value; it may be defined as that use which will generate the highest net return to the property over a period of time. A determination of use value ignores the concept of highest and best use and concentrates solely on the current use of the property exclusive of potential alternative uses. In essence, fair market value is a function of actual market transactions whereas use-value is not based on the workings of the real estate market. As a consequence, use values are usually much lower than fair market value.

Each year the State Land Evaluation Advisory Committee publishes a recommended range of use values by county, for each of the use categories. These values are reached through a localized formula which considers soil capability, yield, average prices, and inherent risks. The assessor is required by law to consider these values when making use-value determinations. These values have historically been used for use-assessment purposes in Accomack County. The use value of each qualifying land is determined on the basis of the acreage of each of the several soil conservation service land capability classes comprising the tract and the use-value applicable to each class.

Important facts:
  • An application for enrollment in the Land Use Assessment Program must be filed in along with a $150 fee on or before November 1 prior to the tax year for which the special assessment is sought.
  • All owners of the property must sign the application.
  • Each parcel must be revalidated on an annual basis by December 5 prior to the upcoming tax year and a $150 revalidation fee must be paid every sixth year.
  • A new application is necessary whenever a change occurs in either the use or acreage of the property.
  • Applications on properties with delinquent real estate taxes will not be approved.
  • Properties on which taxes become delinquent will be removed from the program. 
  • When a change to a non-qualifying use or a change in zoning to a more intensive use occurs, or, when the conveyance or split off of a parcel too small to qualify for land use occurs rollback taxes are levied. 
  • Agricultural and horticultural land must be a minimum of 5 acres.
  • Forest land must be a minimum of 20 acres. (*Marsh land is considered non-productive forest under the program.)