Purchase of Development Rights


The Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program enables the Stafford County Government to acquire conservation easements voluntarily offered by property owners as a way to ensure that Stafford’s resources are protected and efficiently used, and limits further residential development on a property. The program is proposed to preserve open space and rural lands; farm and forest land; water resources and environmentally sensitive lands; and wildlife and aquatic habitat. It will also help to shape the character, direction, and timing of development in the county; improve the quality of life for residents; and promote recreation and tourism through the preservation of scenic and historic resources.

Who Are We?

The Stafford County Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, established in 2007, compensates property owners for restricting development on their land through the recordation of a conservation easement. The property owner retains ownership of the land and may continue to reside on the property and retain such uses as farming or timbering. Compensation to the property owner is determined by how many development rights, or buildable lots, exist on the property.

As of November 2021, the County has preserved 1,035 acres of farm and forest lands on 12 properties county-wide through the acquisition of conservation easements. An additional 124 acres were acquired fee simple using donated funds and grant funds through the PDR program. A total of 301 development rights have been extinguished.

Two additional properties totaling 152 acres are in the process of being included in the PDR program, with anticipated closing on the projects by the end of 2022. This would extinguish an additional 29 development rights. These are the last two applications from the 2017 application round. It is anticipated that a new application round will be opened in 2022.

The County’s portion of the costs comes primarily from rollback taxes. The remaining costs come from State and Federal matching grant funds and donation of funds.

Budget Summary

Notable Changes


  • Increase to Financial Policy requirement of Roll Back Tax Revenue


  • To increase the number of properties within the PDR Program. (Service level 1)
  • To preserve a sizeable acreage of open space within the county to retain rurally and forest lands, water resources, and wildlife and aquatic habit. (Service levels 1 and 2)
  • To allow growth within the County and promote recreation and tourism by preserving scenic and historic resources. (Service levels 1, 2, and 3)
  • Promote and encourage participation within the PDR Program while not burdening the costs on the residents and maximizing grants and other funding sources. (Service levels 4 and 5)

Service Levels for PDR