Open Space Districts

Two Open Space Districts

The 1968 Comprehensive Plan of the County recommended the establishment of two open space districts. One, the Agricultural Rural District, was greatly impacted by special exception requests as noted previously. The other district, "conservation," saw virtually no special exception activity. This may be due to the limited coverage of this district in zoning even though the implications of this district would imply and/or demand a more extensive coverage of the County land mass. 

The 1968 Plan described conservation districts as including steep slope areas which are generally undesirable for intensive development, land subject to flooding, highway interchanges areas, and existing/proposed park and recreation areas. Agriculture, plant cultivation, and public/semi-public uses would be permitted.

Primary Purpose

The primary purpose of the district would be to retain scenic areas and restrict development where the provision of public services and facilities would be costly. The current zoning reflects a limited interpretation of this stated intent. Additional considerations in the future would include wetlands, environmentally sensitive areas, specific watersheds, and woodland retention.


For future planning purposes, it may be appropriate to consider the following goal: To protect, conserve, preserve, and reclaim the natural resources of the County. This would seem to cover what is actually happening in the "open space" (i.e. rural areas) of the County.

Goal Definition

  • Protect to avoid pollution and destruction of the resource base such as agriculture, floodplains, wetlands, and steep slopes
  • Conserve to manage, utilize, and when possible, regenerate resources such as commercial woodland and all types of mineral extraction
  • Preserve to permanently set aside resources in this natural state such as game lands, parkland, natural inventory plans, and specific cultural resources
  • Reclaim to convert areas of strip mine spoil, mine dumps, and landfills from a community liability to a community asset. Possible reuses may include active recreational facilities, passive open space/nature preserves, and certain commercial/industrial development

Rural Activity

These four "districts" could be supplemented by some rural activity node such as village, town, hamlet, or unincorporated settlement with a focus on residential development and mixed uses which support a rural community and environment.