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(A) Promptly upon receipt of any application, the Commissioner of the Revenue shall determine:
(1) Whether the subject property meets the criteria for taxation hereunder;
(2) The real estate devoted to agricultural or horticultural use consists of a minimum of five acres, forest use consists of a minimum of 20 acres and open space use consists of minimum of 20 acres; and
(3) The real estate devoted to open-space use is:
(a) Within an agricultural, forestal, or agricultural and forestal district entered into pursuant to VA Code Title 15.2, Chapter 43, §§ 15.2-4300 et seq.;
(b) Subject to a recorded perpetual easement that is held by a public body, and promotes the open-space use classification, as defined in VA Code § 58.1-3230; or
(c) Subject to a recorded commitment entered into by the landowners with the local governing body not to change the use to a non-qualifying use for a time period stated in the commitment of ten years. Such commitment shall be subject to uniform standards prescribed by the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Such commitment shall run with the land for the applicable period, and may be terminated in the manner provided in VA Code § 15.2-4314 for withdrawal of land from an agricultural, a forestal, or an agricultural and forestal district.
(B) If the Commissioner of the Revenue determines that the subject property does meet such criteria, he or she shall determine the value of such property for its qualifying use, as well as its fair market value.
(C) In determining whether the subject property meets the criteria for agricultural use or horticultural use, the Commissioner of the Revenue may request an opinion from the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; in determining whether the subject property meets the criteria for forest use he or she may request an opinion from the State Forester; and, in determining whether the subject property meets the criteria for open space use, he or she may request an opinion from the Director of Conservation and Historic Resources. Upon the refusal of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, State Forester, or the Director of the Department of Conservation and Historic Resources or the Director of the Commission of Outdoor Recreation to issue an opinion, or in the event of an unfavorable opinion which does not comport with standards set forth by the respective director, the party aggrieved may seek relief from any court of record wherein the real estate in question is located. If the court finds in his or her favor it may issue an order, which shall serve in lieu of an opinion for the purposes of this subchapter.
(Ord. passed 5-10-1990; Ord. passed 4-14-2011; Ord. passed 4-13-2017)