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Virginia CZM Program: 2006 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Middle Peninsula Public Policy Project for Waterside-Landside Use Conflicts

Project Description as Proposed:

As the Middle Peninsula continues to evolve from less rural to more suburban, conflicts between landside and waterside uses will continue to increase.    For example, Gloucester County has been experiencing a dramatic increase in waterfront property values while   continuing to have an active, but diminishing commercial fishing industry. Increasing waterfront real estate values and commercial fishing are generally not compatible.  Entrepreneurs will seek business opportunities and competitive advantage when given the chance.  Currently, these two successful water-dependent businesses are expanding and seeking competitive advantage and as such have become intertwined into waterfront and waterside use conflicts.   This project proposes to assemble a Waterfront Use Conflict Roundtable composed of local elected officials, government administrators, local planners, waterfront property owners and commercial fishing interests.  When necessary, the Roundtable will look for state agency participation on issues of relevance regarding rules, regulations, policies, constraints etc (VMRC, VIMS, DCR-DCBLA, VDH, DEQ etc).  It is important to recognize the learning gap is wide between elected officials, citizens, and state agency representatives.  Before substantive policy development can occur, consistent understanding and common ground must be achieved. 

Four reaches have been identified with current expanding use conflicts:  north shore of the York River from the George P. Colman Bridge to Guinea Marshes, Mobjack Bay, Ware River, and the Piankatank River- above and below Route 3 Bridge.  Due to intensifying use conflicts, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors has selected the York River as an area in greatest need of policy discussions and action.  The Waterfront Use Conflict Roundtable will be assembled to gain understanding of what the land and water assets are for the most appropriate reach (miles of shoreline) along the York River and seek a mediated policy dialog related to use conflict.  The Roundtable will gain a better understanding of how near shore areas are being used now and what constraints exist for existing and new uses, and determine the issues and conflicts that are affecting local governments’ ability to make the most of the waterfront and waterside.  Funding through Virginia Sea Grant and the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission will provide a geospatial analysis of landside and waterside usage of the priority study reach to serve as the foundation for Roundtable policy discussion.

It is anticipated that the use conflict public policy dialog will continue after the completion of deliverables.   

MPPDC Commission and impacted Middle Peninsula localities have identified Use Conflicts as a priority for regional coordination. This project has and will support:

1) coordination between jurisdictions, 2) outreach and training to local elected officials, commercial watermen and other stakeholders, and 3) transferability to additional impacted localities. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Lewie Lawrence; (804) 758-2311;

Project Status:

10/1/2006 - 9/30/2007; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Final Project Summary constitutes Final Product.

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The York River Use Conflict Policy Recommendation Committee consists of a cross section of representatives of varying, and often conflicting, uses of the York River.  Membership includes: local elected official, local planning staff, residential waterfront property owners, commercial waterfront property owners, commercial fisherman, oyster harvester, clam harvester, recreational users (duck hunting, oyster gardening, crab harvesting, fishing, boating), and MPPDC staff resource experts.

By its very nature, the learning gap among the membership of the Committee is wide, and the self interests of each member seemingly at odds.  Before effective discussions and analysis of use conflict policy recommendations can occur, all of the members of the Committee needed to gain a common understanding of existing policies, regulations, and uses of the York River, Gloucester, Virginia.  This education process occurred over the summer of 2007 and centered on the text, “Boss of the Waterfront,” (jointly developed with funding from the Virginia Sea Grant Community Development Program) that includes a comprehensive compilation of existing state codes, agency regulations, and a York River study reach that consists of comprehensive maps of the existing uses, demographics, and designations of the York River waterfront. As mentioned, the education phase followed a process that allowed each member to share his knowledge of use conflict, and then all members delved into areas less familiar to them.  Through research and discussions, the group identified use conflict situations for every code and regulation in the “Boss of the Waterfront” text.

The Committee worked in small groups to analyze the study reach GIS plates.  Each group used a regulatory self help worksheet to analyze the information and better understand each part of the study reach.  A segue to its next phase, the Committee’s education phase culminated with a discussion of “Who should manage use conflict?” “What is the appropriate use?” and “Who should determine the appropriate uses?”  Photographs of different recreational, commercial, and residential uses were illustrated for this discussion, and use conflict regulations from other states were discussed.  In the end, the Committee created a matrix of all the use conflicts it had identified in preparation for the next project phase of framing the public policy question “Who should manage use conflict?”

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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