Virginia CZM Program 2008 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

12.05

Grantee:

Northern Neck Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Northern Neck Blue-Green Infrastructure Protection

Project Description as Proposed:

The Northern Neck Planning District Commission proposes to create a draft regional conservation corridor plan (map) for the four counties of the Northern Neck Peninsula Region. The Northern Neck, while still being a rural area, is under development pressure from residential and other development. As many people in the nearby urban areas of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are nearing retirement, they are choosing to build their retirement home on the waterfront in the Northern Neck. The Northern Neck is expected to continue to develop so now is the time to help preserve coastal resources for future generations.

NNPDC staff will coordinate with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Division of Natural Heritage, the Virginia Networked Education for Municipal Officials Program (VNEMO), the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and other coastal partner state agencies to identify potential areas in all four counties that have high habitat, ecological, recreational, historic or water quality values. The updated and revised Virginia Conservation Land Needs Assessment (VCLNA) and the Virginia Coastal Geospatial and Educational Mapping System (Coastal GEMS) will be used as a base, with local knowledge being used to modify or expand the areas highlighted. NNPDC staff will work with the four County Land Use Offices to review the VCNLA and offer revisions and additions to the corridors to fit the character of the County and land area. In addition to the mapping effort, there will be an education and consensus building outreach effort to the County Planning Commissions. Three educational presentations will be held throughout the year on conservation corridors and blue and green infrastructure in each county, and will be held during regularly scheduled county planning commission meetings that are open to the public.

Once the draft conservation corridor county maps are completed at the County Staff Level, NNPDC staff will present them at the third planned presentation to each county's Planning Commissions for their input, as well as input from the public who attend the regularly scheduled Planning Commission Meetings. Each Planning Commission's comments will be incorporated into the draft Conservation Corridor map final deliverable.

Federal Funding:

$25,000

Project Contact:

Stuart McKenzie - 804.333.1900: smckenzie@nnpdc17.state.va.us

Project Status:

10/1/2008 - 9/30/2009; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Northern Neck Planning District Commission Blue/Green Infrastructure Planning Protection (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The Northern Neck Planning District Commission endeavored to introduce the two Northern Neck Counties, Richmond and Westmoreland to blue-green infrastructure planning and protection. Both counties are currently updating their Comprehensive Plans and NNPDC staff is assisting both counties in the revision process. NNPDC staff created multiple maps depicting natural resource assets, based mostly on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Virginia Conservation Needs Land Assessment (VCLNA). Other data included the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program's (CELP) priorities data layer. Maps were created for both Richmond and Westmoreland Counties, customized for the unique issues that were present in each county.

NNPDC staff attended multiple Comprehensive Planning Committee meetings, Planning Commission meetings and Planning Commission work sessions in both counties. NNPDC staff created presentations, customized for each county to introduce the concepts of green infrastructure, localizing it with county references and maps. After several meetings with Comprehensive Plan Committees and Planning Commission, different paths were taken by each county.

Richmond County already has conservation areas defined in their Comprehensive Plan's Future Land Use Plan Map. After examining the maps produced by the NNPDC, the existing conservation areas were validated by high scores compared to the VCLNA data. In addition, an area of the county with high natural resource value was identified that was not located in the existing conservation areas, a portion of the Cat Point Creek watershed. NNPDC staff recommended that this area be added to the existing conservation areas in the updated comprehensive plan. At this time, the Richmond County Comprehensive Plan Committee has not decided on whether or not to include the additional conservation area to the comprehensive plan. NNPDC staff plan on following the Comprehensive Plan process and lobbying for inclusion of Cat Point Creek into the updated Comprehensive Plan in the following months.

Westmoreland County chose to include a number of VCLNA maps in its comprehensive plan. Westmoreland County chose the following VCLNA maps; Conserved Lands, Known Conservation Sites, Ecologically Ranked Natural Area Cores, Natural Area Corridors and Cultural Model Map. Planning Commission members suggested using the data from the VCLNA maps to help screen building development plans and re-zoning decisions. Developers would be encouraged to keep their projects outside of the features of the VCLNA maps and would be downgraded whenever the project impacted features in the VCLNA maps. The reasoning would follow that if the project impacted enough VCLNA features, the project would be denied. The VCLNA blue-green infrastructure planning protection maps are currently in the Working Draft #2 version of the updated Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan. NNPDC staff again will follow the Comprehensive Plan process and support inclusion of these maps in the Comprehensive Plan, as well as a codification of the development assessment grading process using the VCLNA maps with county administration. Working Draft #2 can be found at the Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan revision website: http://westmoreland2030.org.

A Consensus Building Report was created that outlined the process in each county towards blue-green infrastructure planning protection. Slideshows given at meetings were created for each county, as well as a multitude of maps, some used extensively and others not.

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 email: Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov

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


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