Monday, June 30, 2014

What is the CBPA (Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act) and How Does it Affect Me?

So, what is the Chesapeake Bay preservation Act (CBPA)?  Chances are, if you know, it’s because you’ve already had to deal with it.  

A little background--the CBPA, or Bay Act, was initially enacted in 1988.  The Bay Act’s aim, in a broad sense, is to protect the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  The General Assembly designed the Act to enhance water quality while still allowing for reasonable economic development. 

As a member of the public trying to develop your property, you may see the Bay Act as a pain, but it is important to understand the reasoning behind this legislation.  The Chesapeake Bay is a national Treasure and it deserves to be protected.  It is the nation's largest estuary and one of the world's most productive.  The Bay is home to over 2,700 species and it drains 64,000 square miles of land Chesapeake Bay Watershed Map. 

The Lynnhaven River and its watershed drain into the Chesapeake Bay, and are subject to the Bay Act.  More than half (54%) of Virginia Beach's residents live in the Lynnhaven River's 64 square mile watershed. 

Because the Lynnhaven has such a dense residential population surrounding its waters, it is important for home and business owners to know how this legislation affects them. 

In 1991, the City of Virginia Beach adopted the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act Ordinance, affecting all properties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This ordinance provides an outline of regulations that must be followed when developing within this protected area.  These regulations are often referred to as best management practices (BMPs), and are designed to improve water quality by protecting critical areas within the watershed.  

This ordinance separates protected land into two categories:
  1. Resource Protection Areas (RPA)
  2. Resource Management Areas (RMA)
RPAs are critical areas within the watershed.  They are usually adjacent to waterways, and are subjected to more regulations.  RMAs are adjacent to RPAs, extending landwards to the edge of the waterside, and are not as strictly regulated.

So, how do I know what this means to me exactly, as a property owner within the Lynnhaven River watershed? Here is a link the the City of Virginia Beach's homeowners guide to Chesapeake Bay resource protection areas-- Home Owner's Guide to Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Areas

Any work or project to be done in the RPA must be approved by the city. You can submit at Preliminary Project Request (PPR) available here

Some basic guidelines:

  • Nothing can be build in the RPA (with the exception of boat-docking structures and shoreline control structures)
  • Vegetation removal from the RPA affects erosion and sediment control, and decreases functional filtering and habitat value of the wetland, and is not allowed. Exceptions are for dead or diseased trees. Removed vegetation must be replaced. (Again, everything must be approved by the City!)
  • Prior to any addition to an existing structure in the RPA, an Encroachment Application must be submitted to the City.

If you are looking to develop and you are near or in an RPA area, you should also review the Guide to the Single Family Site Development Process for Sites Located in the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area (RPA) 

 Compiled by Clint Boaz, Intern; Edited by Trista Imrich, Pearl Homes Coordinator, LRNow


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