Virginia CZM Program 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

12.02

Grantee:

Northampton County

Project Title:

Northampton County Blue & Green Infrastructure Protection

Project Description as Proposed:

This project will build on a project conducted under a 2008 Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program Grant on a local stormwater management program to ensure protection of blue infrastructure, especially economically-significant shellfish aquaculture areas. In this project a stormwater management plan will be developed, and the regulations adopted in FY 2008 Task 12.08 will be revised. Another component of this project will address local evaluation of Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) currently being identified through a CZM Focal Areas Project, with consideration being given to a Comprehensive Plan update to address the findings of the project.

A significant component of this project will be planning commission and public educational workshops intended to provide information about the significance to the county and public benefit of high-quality blue and green infrastructure, as well as information about the tools available to protect and enhance these resources. Under the leadership of various Boards of Supervisors since 1990, the county has taken steps to protect water quality on both the Seaside (Atlantic Ocean) and the Bayside (Chesapeake Bay) and to preserve farmland and open space, and while there is general public support for the goals of preserving clean waters and open space, widespread support for the means of achieving those goals still seems lacking. In addition, as of July 1, 2009, the county will have a newly-constituted planning commission, and it is assumed that at least some of the 9-member body will be relatively new to the planning process. For these reasons, public education is viewed as key to successful implementation of new water quality and PCA protection measures. We will contract with Dr. Michael Chandler of PlanVirginia/Citizens Planning Association of Virginia to conduct a Community Planning Academy as an introductory program to community planning and growth management for elected officials, planning commissioners and other appointed officials, and concerned citizens.

As part of the evaluation of PCAs, Northampton will acquire additional CommunityViz training for its Long-Range Planner/GIS Coordinator. The initial analysis and mapping are being done with CommunityViz, with which a county staff member is somewhat familiar but not proficient. He received some training last year through a project of the Delmarva Atlantic Watersheds Network (DAWN) funded in part by the VA CZM Program, but he is not yet equipped to do independent manipulation of the data or to do presentations using the software. It is expected that further training will enable the local staff to work with the PCAs as well as the build-out scenarios developed in the DAWN project. Another aspect of work with the PCA product will be review by the county planning commission and Board of Supervisors and an effort to amend the Comprehensive Plan to address the findings of that Focal Areas Project.

Federal Funding:

$20,000

Project Contact:

Sandra Benson, 757.678.0443; sbenson@co.northampton.va.us

Project Status:

10/1/2009 - 12/31/2010; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Northampton BGI Planning Academy (pdf)

Northampton BGI Community Viz (pdf)

Northampton BGI Water Analysis (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

This project was intended to enhance the protection of existing blue and green infrastructure in Northampton County and to potentially expand the designated resources.  One of the goals of the project was to improve public understanding of planning principles prior to undertaking a review and update of the Environment and Natural Resources element of the county Comprehensive Plan.  To that end, the county sponsored, through the use of CZM funds, a Community Planning Academy (CPA) during the fall of 2010.  Nineteen participants representing a cross-section of county residents completed the course, which included a presentation of Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) by VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries staff, representing work done under another CZM grant-funded project.  Of the CPA participants since the class was conducted, one was elected to the Board of Supervisors, one was appointed to the Planning Commission, three (3) are serving on the county’s Public Service Authority, three (3) were asked to serve on a Board-of-Supervisors-appointed advisory committee to assist in the comprehensive plan review, and five (5) are serving on an advisory committee convened by the Planning Commission to assist them in their work on the comprehensive plan review.

As another component of this project, Peter Stith, Long-Range Planner & GIS Administrator, completed sixteen (16) hours of CommunityViz training to enable him better to utilize the county’s software to work with the PCA data, along with other planning applications and analysis.  Although we have not yet completed the comprehensive plan update, and the original scope of work and budget were amended to reflect this circumstance, a presentation of the PCAs has been made to the county Planning Commission during the summer of 2011, and an abbreviated presentation was included in the series of seven public workshops conducted during the winter of 2012 relative to the ongoing comprehensive plan review.

Finally, a sampling and analysis of King’s Creek/Cherrystone Inlet was undertaken by staff from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).  These water bodies are important for the local aquaculture industry and had been the target area for a recent TMDL implementation plan (IP).  During that process, questions arose about the accuracy and validity of the data being used to develop the IP.  Funding was secured to conduct an analysis with the expectation that the results would yield data either to substantiate the IP or to be used to revise the IP. The report entitled Analyses of King’s Creek Water and Watershed Runoff Samples for Bacteriodales Using qPCR to Detect Human Fecal Contamination has been provided to staff at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and a meeting was convened among VIMS faculty, staff from the two state departments, and county staff to discuss the findings.

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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