Virginia CZM Program 2010 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

95

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Project Description as Proposed:

Previously, MPPDC staff focused on tools, such as conservation easements, as means for landowners to keep their land in the family, while continuing to farm/timber and receive tax benefits. During this period, the amount of land conserved soared to 23% - a substantial accomplishment. While easements and land holdings by tax-exempt entities/political subdivisions support the goals of the SAMP – protecting water quality, supporting traditional uses (farming, forestry, etc), and preserving rural character, there are unintended fiscal impacts to the localities. In these tight economic times, negative impacts on revenues has led to opposition from some local governments. Because this opposition has the potential to jeopardize the tax benefit of the easement, it may decrease the desirability for private landowners to utilize this tool. The MPPDC adopted a resolution requesting the Dragon Run Steering Committee to study this issue further and to provide enforceable policy recommendations to address the conflict. The following activities are proposed by MPPDC for FY10: 1)  Provide technical assistance for each watershed county during its adoption cycle and assist the implementation of the Dragon Run Comp Plan and/or Zoning Amendments  2)  Administer a technical assistance program that supports the implementation of the Watershed Management Plan and support of the Dragon Run Steering Committee 3)  Assess impact of conservation easements and conservation land holdings by tax exempt entities/political subdivisions on local revenues and land use patterns

Federal Funding:

$25,000

Project Contact:

Sara Stamp - (804) 758-23111: sstamp@mppdc.com

Project Status:

10/1/2010 - 9/30/2011

Final Product Received:

Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan Final Report (pdf) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan’s (SAMP) mission is to preserve the watershed’s traditional uses and natural character, while preserving property rights and the watershed’s traditional uses (e.g. forestry, farming, recreation). Anticipating future growth pressure, the SAMP seeks to balance demands by improving the tools (ie. comp plans/zoning ordinances) available to manage the environmental social and economic resources.  

During this project, MPPDC staff focused on four specific areas, including (1) Providing technical assistance for each watershed county during its adoption cycle and assisting the implementation of the Dragon Run Comp Plan and/or Zoning Amendments; (2) Administering a technical assistance program that supports the implementation of the Watershed Management Plan and supporting of the Dragon Run Steering Committee; (3) Assessing the impact of conservation easements and conservation land holdings by tax exempt entities/political subdivisions on local revenues and land use patterns; and (4) Legislative and outreach efforts associated with NA09NOS419163 Task 95.01 Failing Septic Systems and Heir Properties.  

While outreach to the public and watershed localities was an aspect of this project, MPPDC staff focused much of its time on conservation easements as well as heir property issues. First, as the fiscal impacts of conservation easements were clarified in FY09 (NA09NOS4190163 Task 95 and 97.01) grants, this year was focused on discussing relevant policy options. As a result of discussions with conservation stakeholders as well as local Commissions of Revenue, MPPDC staff developed a guidance policy document that offers policy options and a memorandum of understanding for localities and conservation groups to consider. Second, as failing septic systems on heir properties cause water quality degradation, currently there is no public policy strategy to correct this. Therefore MPPDC staff partnered with the National Sea Grant Law center to address associated legal tools, research, and education needs. With recommendations from the Sea Grant report, MPPDC staff worked with the MPPDC Commission, Legislative representatives, and local elected officials to advance these through the development of House Bill 1448. This bill amends the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered §15.2-958.6, relating to the financing of repairs for failed septic systems. Currently, in February 2013, this bill was passed by the Virginia General Assembly and was signed by the Governor in March 2013.

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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