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The purpose of the Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) Program is to promote agricultural values and the general welfare of Chatham County by increasing the identity of, and pride in, the agricultural community and its way of life. To encourage the economic and financial health of agriculture, horticulture, and forestry through protection from non-farm development and other negative impacts on properly managed farms.

Benefits of enrolling in the VAD

  • Landowners belonging to a VAD will not be required to connect to County water or sewer. Any assessment fees will be held in abeyance, without interest, unless and until the property is connected.
  • Signs identifying the VAD may be provided to qualifying farmland and placed on the property at the discretion of the owners (not within road right-of-ways).
  •  VAD parcels and all property within a one-half mile will be mapped by Chatham County GIS. This will inform the public and purchasers of real property that agricultural, horticultural, and forestry activities may occur in these areas. A notice will be posted at the Planning Department, Tax Office, and Agricultural Agencies in the county.
  • No governmental agency may condemn any interest in participating farmland without requesting a public hearing to ensure full consideration of the impact of that action upon agricultural, forestland or horticultural land.
  • Farms enrolled in the VAD may benefit from higher ranking in Chatham Soil & Water Conservation District cost-share programs.

Q: Does your farm qualify as a VAD?

A: Farmland must:

  • Be engaged in agriculture as defined by NC G.S. 106-581.1 or meet the bona fide farm definition as defined by NC G.S. 153A-340.

Essentially, the farmland must either produce a crop, grow ornamental plants, raise livestock, produce timber, engage in aquaculture, produce and market on-farm value-added products, maintain farm structures, or store grain.

  • Manage farm to address NRCS defined Highly Erodible Land, if necessary.
  • Agree to prohibit non-farm use or development for at least 10 years.
  • Be located in an unincorporated area of the County or in a municipality with a VAD Memorandum of Understanding.

Steps of the application procedure

1. Access the application online or obtain a copy from us or the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Chatham County office.

2. Complete and submit the application. Give us a call if you have any questions and we can assist you. The application can be submitted online or return a hard copy to our office.

3. The application will be reviewed for eligibility by staff. If a farm visit is needed, staff will contact you to request access.

4. After eligibility review, the application will be presented to the Chatham County Agricultural Advisory Board, who will approve or deny the request.

5. The applicant will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision.

6. Upon approval, the VAD parcels will be mapped and made public.

A Voluntary Program

This is a voluntary program. No farm will be required to participate. The term of the agreement is ten years, however, a landowner may revoke this agreement at any time by notifying the agricultural advisory board in writing.

If you have any questions about this application, please contact the Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District Office at (919) 542-8240 or the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Chatham County Center Office at (919) 542-8202.

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