A. Forestry, when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural best management practices as determined by the State Forester pursuant to § 10.1-1105, constitutes a beneficial and desirable use of the Commonwealth’s forest resources.
B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, silvicultural activity, as defined in § 10.1-1181.1, that (i) is conducted in accordance with the silvicultural best management practices developed and enforced by the State Forester pursuant to § 10.1-1105 and (ii) is located on property defined as real estate devoted to forest use under § 58.1-3230 or in a district established pursuant to Chapter 43 (§ 15.2-4300 et seq.) or Chapter 44 (§ 15.2-4400 et seq.) of Title 15.2, shall not be prohibited or unreasonably limited by a local government’s use of its police, planning and zoning powers. Local ordinances and regulations shall not require a permit or impose a fee for such silvicultural activity. Local ordinances and regulations pertaining to such silvicultural activity shall be reasonable and necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens residing in the locality, and shall not be in conflict with the purposes of promoting the growth, continuation and beneficial use of the Commonwealth’s privately owned forest resources. Prior to the adoption of any ordinance or regulation pertaining to silvicultural activity, a locality may consult with, and request a determination from, the State Forester as to whether the ordinance or regulation conflicts with the purposes of this section. Nothing in this section shall preclude a locality from requiring a review by the zoning administrator, which shall not exceed ten working days, to determine whether a proposed silvicultural activity complies with applicable local zoning requirements.
C. The provisions of this section shall apply to the harvesting of timber, provided that the area on which such harvesting occurs is reforested artificially or naturally in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 11 (§ 10.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 10.1 or is converted to bona fide agricultural or improved pasture use as described in subsection B of § 10.1-1163.The provisions of this section shall not apply to land that has been rezoned or converted at the request of the owner or previous owner from an agricultural or rural to a residential, commercial or industrial zone or use.Nothing in this section shall affect any requirement imposed pursuant to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§ 62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) or imposed by a locality pursuant to the designation of a scenic highway or Virginia byway in accordance with §§ 33.2-405 through 33.2-408.
1997, c. 7.