Stafford Officials Urge Public to Brush-up on Bay Preservation Act

via The Free Lance-Star

After a June training session on how the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act affects Stafford County and how the county affects the bay, the Stafford Board of Zoning Appeals is appealing to the public. Officials are urging residents to familiarize themselved with local ordinances based on the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and to let the Department of Code Administration know if they see a violation of the Act. Contact the county Planning Department at 540-858-8668 to find out what is allowed. For information on Resource Protection Areas in the tidewater area, call 800-243-7229.

$600,000 in funding announced for groundbreaking projects

From the Government Innovators Network, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has earmarked $600,000 to fund six innovative projects throughout Maryland. Each of these projects, which range in scope and geographic location, focus on two areas: promoting best practices for agricultural management and new approaches to reduce the water quality impact of new development.

National budget cuts funds for the bay

The bay has been getting a lot of support from local lawmakers so far this year, but federal support has gone south. Today's Annapolis Capital reports that President Bush's proposed budget includes more than $75 million in cuts to Chesapeake Bay programs.

"If the president's budget were enacted, it would be devastating for the bay," said Senator Ben Cardin.

The proposed cuts reduce funding for sewage plant upgrades, education, oyster restoration, land preservation, as well as cutting $1.6 million from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in Eastport.

Indigo Dunes Debate

Portfolio Weekly cover A 69-acre development is proposed for one of Virginia Beach's last open waterfront landscapes. The proposal will impact four acres of wetlands and about 34 percent of protected area overlooking Pleasure House Creek and the Lynnhaven River. Portfolio Weekly features the story in it's current edition.

After analyzing the Joint Permit Application (JPA) for Indigo Dunes, Joe Lerch, CBF Virginia Land Planner, provided his technical analysis of the JPA to local citizens.

In summary, Lerch proposes that the JPA doesn't comply with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act regulations, meaning developer L.M. Sandler & Sons will need to seek an exception from Virginia Beach to develop the majority of the Resource Protection Areas (canals and wetlands - including a 100-foot protective buffer). Aerial photo showing proposed development

He also disputes the claim made by engineers for the developer that the existing wetlands and canals were manmade and therefore not worthy of protection under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. "(This) doesn't this follow the logic or letter of the law and regulations. Looking at the aerial photographs going back to 1937, it appears that the site was historically a wetland. Furthermore, when the years of spoil and dredge activity ceased it makes sense that nature would begin the process of returning wetland vegetation. Lastly, there is no reasonable justification (within the Bay Act regulations) for allowing an exception to remove the existing RPA features (water bodies, wetlands, and buffers)...Clearly, the exception being sought is due to a proposed "self-created" or "self imposed" hardship. I recommend contacting Shawn Smith (principal planner with DCR's Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance office) to verify this interpretation of the regulation."

You can read Joe's full comments about the proposal on the Shore Drive Community Coalition website and Shawn Smith's reply here (pdf file) .Aerial view showing location of the proposed development

You can take a virtual walking tour of the site or sign a petition opposing the Indigo Dunes project proposal at The Chesapeake Bayfront website. Stay up-to-date on the project with the Shore Drive Community Coalition blog.