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Primary service area


The Primary Service Area defines areas presently provided with public water and sewer, and high levels of other public services, as well as areas expected to receive such services over the next 20 years. Most residential, commercial, and industrial development will occur within the Primary Service Area. Development outside of the PSA is strongly discouraged. Public utility sites, easements and facilities are not shown on the Land Use Plan Map. However, it is the intent of the Comprehensive Plan that any development of these sites, easements, and facilities, inside or outside the PSA, be subject to individualized review under §15.1-456 of the Code of Virginia.


Promoting efficiency in the delivery of public facilities and services through land use planning and timing development is an important concept. The PSA concept encourages efficient utilization of public facilities and services, avoids overburdening such facilities and services, helps ensure facilities and services are available where and when needed, increases public benefit per dollar spent, promotes public health and safety through improved emergency response time, and minimizes well and septic failures.


Rural Lands

What areas hold this designation and where are they likely to be located?

Rural Lands are areas containing farms, forests and scattered houses, exclusively outside of the Primary Service Area, where a lower level of public service delivery exists or where utilities and urban services do not exist and are not planned for the future.

Special considerations

The 2003 Comprehensive Plan specifies certain Rural Lands Development Standards which seek to minimize adverse impacts of development on rural lands, in particular preservation of its rural character and the soils more suited for agriculture.

Suggested uses

Appropriate primary uses include agricultural and forestal activities, together with certain recreational and public or semi-public and institutional uses which may require a spacious site and which are compatible with the natural and rural surroundings. Rural residential uses associated with legitimate agricultural and forestal activities are appropriate when overall density is no more than one dwelling unit per three acres and soils are suitable for individual waste disposal systems. Residential developments not related to agricultural or forestal uses are only appropriate when they meet the Rural Lands Development Standards of the Comprehensive Plan.  Concentrations of residential development such as large-scale subdivisions will interrupt rural qualities sought to be preserved and significantly increase the demand for urban services and transportation facilities. Most retail and commercial uses which will serve Rural Lands will be located at planned commercial locations on major thoroughfares inside the PSA. However, a few of the smaller service uses and certain uses which require a specialized location may be located on the basis of a case-by-case review, provided such uses are compatible with the natural and rural character of the area, in accordance with the Development Standards of the Comprehensive Plan. These uses should be located in a manner that minimizes effects on agricultural and forestal activities, and located where public services and facilities, especially roads, can adequately accommodate them.


General Industry

What areas hold this designation and where are they likely to be located?

General Industry describes areas within the PSA that are suitable for industrial uses which, because of their potential for creating dust, noise, odor, and other adverse environmental effects, require buffering from adjoining uses. General industrial uses usually require access to interstate and arterial highways, public water and sewer, adequate supply of electric power and other energy sources, access to a sufficient labor supply, and moderate to large sized sites with natural features such as soils, topography, and buffering suitable for intense development.

Timing and intensity of development

Timing and intensity of development is controlled by the maintenance of an acceptable level of service of roads and other public services, the availability and capacity of public utilities, and the availability of skilled labor.

Suggested uses

Primarily includes industrial uses that have the potential to create dust, noise, odor, or other adverse environmental effects.  Secondary uses in General Industry areas may include office uses and a limited amount of commercial development generally intended to support the needs of employees and other persons associated with an industrial development.


Federal, State, and County Land

Publicly owned lands included in this category are Eastern State Hospital, military installations, County offices and facilities, and larger utility sites such as the Hampton Roads Sanitation District treatment plant.

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