Yew Hill Farm
Yew Hill Farm is an active cattle farm with two parcels a total of about 83.98 acres. The property is primarily open grasslands with small areas of forest growth and is divided by Winchester Road, Rt. 17. The property is currently approved for development of 6 housing lots. The gift of easement will curtail the development rights resulting in a single lot remaining on the property in total.
Yew Hill Farm contains the historic home once called Robert Ashby’s Tavern and Shacklett’s Tavern. The home is listed in the Virginia Historic Registry and the Nation Registry of Historic Places, No. 030-0060. Yew Hill was built in approximately 1760 by Robert Ashby. George Washington stayed at the home while surveying the area in 1769.
The property meets the definition of property eligible for protection under “Historic Preservation” per section A (4) (a) (1) of the Conservation Value Review Criteria of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.
The farm consists of gently rolling farmland with woodland areas, streams, ponds and marsh areas. The fields, tree lines, streams and marshes provide habitat and food sources for wildlife. Yew Hill Farm meets the criteria for conservation by protecting natural habitat and biological diversity.
This property meets the criteria for conservation based on the scenic value of the property. The rolling hillside, pastures, trees and wildlife habitat provide pleasing examples of the scenic boundary between the Piedmont and Blue Ridge elevations.
Yew Hill Farm falls within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. The National heritage Area “was designated through legislation passed on April 29, 2008, and signed by President Bush on May 8, 2008. The legislation, S. 2739, passed the House on April 29, 2008, by a vote of 291 to 117 and the Senate on April 10, 2008, by a vote of 91 to 4. The JTHG NHA recognizes the unparalleled cultural, historic and scenic resources within the entire JTHG corridor, encompassing all or part of 15 counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia.”
The JTHG Corridor Management Plan (2008) calls for “The following are the goals for the Byway: Conservation and Preservation: Work with existing and available tools, maintain the intrinsic qualities of the Byway primarily through private, voluntary land conservation efforts; existing and available tax incentives for historic preservation and land conservation; and the application of existing local land use plans, regulations, policies and design guidelines.”
The property is also visible from Winchester Road (Route 17) a Virginia Scenic Byway and conservation of the property conforms to Fauquier County’s policy to protect “scenic beauty.”
The property is currently being farmed for hay, goats, and cattle. Lot Pin No. 6041-63-9008-000 is designated by Fauquier County as “AGRIC 20-100 ACRES” for the purposes of use value assessment and taxation.
The easement restrictions designed to protect the property’s conservation value directly support the policies of the Fauquier County’s Comprehensive Plan. According to the Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan the property lies within the Blue Ridge Anticlinorium geological province with soil that is “medium to course grained homblende-biotite granite Robert River Foundation.”
The soil is not suited for septic systems. Fauquier County’s Comprehensive Plan states that the soil has “varying characteristics with respect to the ability to absorb and filter effluent. Rockiness, low depth to bedrock, flooding, high water table, poor or excessive permeability, and steep slopes all limit the soil's filtering ability. Using these factors [the county has determined that the property has] severe limitations for any development which must rely upon the use of septic tanks.”
The property is within the Goose Creek watershed with runoff flowing to the Potomac River. Any failing septic would not only impact Fauquier County but would also impact the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.