Madison County

old-rag-mountainMadison County, named for the family of James Madison, was formed in 1792 from Culpeper County. It was originally settled in 1725, and its background is primarily agricultural.

Located just north of Virginia’s geographic center, the County displays the best of the Piedmont’s character along with the spectacular backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Madison County lies approximately 30 miles north of Charlottesville, 80 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and 28 miles east of Harrisonburg.

With an area of 327 square miles (209,280 acres), the County ranges in elevation from 298 feet in the east to over 4,000 feet in the mountains at the western border. Its economy is largely devoted to agriculture, forestry, and related industries, with recreation and tourism becoming increasingly important. These economic activities provide strong incentive to preserve and protect the County’s environment and natural beauty and its rural way of life.

Unusually rapid population growth in Madison County during the late 1960s, and pressure to develop the U.S. Route 29 corridor, gave rise to a recognition of the need for a water and sewer study to identify sources, impoundment sites, flows, and tentative system service areas. Such a study was published in October 1967, and it resulted in the 1969 establishment by Madison County, and adjoining Orange and Greene Counties, of the Rapidan Service Authority (RSA). In the ensuing years, RSA has installed a water intake, storage, filtration, and distribution facility on the MadisonGreene line at the Rapidan River. This facility serves Stanardsville, Ruckersville and Madison County from Route 621 to the Greene County line. The White Oak Lake water treatment system serves the Town of Madison and contiguous areas.

Also in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Madison County adopted its first subdivision and zoning ordinances. Problems arose under these initial ordinances, however, prompting the institution of a moratorium on subdivision development, and leading to the issuance of revised subdivision and zoning ordinances and a site plan control ordinance and ultimately, in 1977, to the adoption of Madison County’s first Comprehensive Plan.

In the mid-1970s, Madison County joined the newly formed Rappahannock-Rapidan Planning District Commission (Planning District 9), which also included Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange and Rappahannock Counties and the Towns of Culpeper and Warrenton. The purpose of the Commission is to provide regional planning services in the areas of criminal justice, aging, water quality management, solid waste management, and other problems of regional scope or impact. In 1980, the Commission issued an initial Route 29 Corridor Study analyzing physical characteristics along Route 29. This Study has been updated over the years, with the most recent version having been adopted by Madison County in 2014.