An open space program for Virginia

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Open land has historically been considered an expendable resource. This concept has abetted the sprawl which occurs in all urbanizing areas of our country. With the United States urbanizing at a rate of more than a million acres a year, this concept can no longer be tolerated. In the last fifteen years, urban development has consumed approximately two-thirds as much new land as it did in all the previous years in the history of our country. Virginia has not been an innocent bystander in this process.

This thesis points up the necessity for immediate action to preserve open space in the State of Virginia. It examines the human as well as the economic values that can be derived from open space through an analysis of both the active and passive uses to which open space or low-density use lands can be put. This is accomplished through the establishment and critical analysis of the goals and objectives of an open space program for Virginia.

The law on open space in Virginia is a mass of detail buried in traditional legal categories developed for other purposes. This thesis has examined the existing constitutional and statutory powers available to local governmental subdivisions for developing an open space program.

In addition, it examines and appraises significant proposals for acquiring and controlling open space. From this analysis, alternative programs for open space acquisition and control are presented including the acquisition of development rights, the land bank, fresh concepts of zoning and subdivision regulations, and expanded concepts in the use of the taxing power.