Virginia CZM Program: 2011 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo

53

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Rural Chesapeake Bay/Seaside of Virginia Working Waterfront Coalition

Project Description as Proposed:

This project proposes to expand and complement the current Working Waterfront 309 strategy through projects that help develop the markets needed to ensure sustainability of working waterfronts and related industries. 
 
For many Virginia rural coastal communities, there is a strong need to maximize the potential of the waterfront as a driver for economic vitality. However, market forces, changing demographics, and increasing tax burdens on waterfront properties are increasingly driving a transition of waterfront properties toward residential or recreational uses. In addition, regulatory changes affecting marine fisheries management are impacting water dependent industries and working waterfronts. If access to the waterfront is limited or severed, commercial and recreational fishermen, researchers, and other water-dependent businesses will have fewer options to successfully make a living from the tidal waters of the Commonwealth, including the Seaside on the Eastern shore. As a result, many rural Chesapeake Bay and Seaside communities are challenged to maintain their identity and are shifting away from water-dependent employment, causing economic and cultural changes that can limit economic diversification opportunities and fundamentally alter the nature of the communities themselves. These challenges are particularly acute inboth rural Chesapeake Bay and Seasidecoastal communities. In response, Accomack-Northampton PDC, Northern Neck PDC Middle Peninsula PDC, Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority, Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority and Marine Advisory Services at VIMS collectively propose to form a Rural Chesapeake Bay-Seaside Working Waterfront Coalition. The Coalition partners recognize that there is a growing body of knowledge and community-level competencies in how to practically manage these challenges while maintaining working waterfronts, especially in coastal communities. This body of knowledge needs to be transferred and applied to the rural coastal Chesapeake Bay and Seaside working waterfront communities.
 
The Coalition will establish three working waterfront nodes based on local community need. These nodes will serve as working waterfront service centers: Eastern Shore, Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula.  Marine Advisory Services will serve as the project scientific and advisory centerpiece.  Marine Advisory Services will coordinate an initial project kickoff meeting to educate and synchronize project partners concerning the Working Waterfront 309 project and the Rural Chesapeake Bay-Seaside Working Waterfront Coalition. A project steering committee comprised of key working waterfront representatives will be formed and will attend project synchronized meetings called by Marine Advisory Service staff. These meetings will occur as needed.
 
Each PDC’s in partnership with each PAA will take the lead and convene a series of local round table meetings to discuss and recommend tools needed to address taxing concerns, reduce regulatory barriers, and preserve working waterfront cultural identity. As a foundation to start the discussion, the Coalition will use Delegate Morgan’s 2011 session HB 2263 Commercial fisheries; provides for state and local tax, regulatory relief, and preservation there of bill as a platform for dialog.
 
Each PDC will produce a working waterfront report on the findings of local need. Marine Advisory Services will convene a final meeting(s) of the project steering committee to discuss and seek agreement on final recommendations to be promoted by the Coalition. The final product will be a report including draft legislation and other recommended approaches designed to protect coastal jobs and sustain the industry.  
 
Membership for each node of the coalition will be determined by a process politically and culturally accepted for each region. It is envisioned that the primary membership will be local watermen, waterfront business owners, and those who have an economic and policy stake in Working Waterfront issues.

Federal Funding:

$29,559

Project Contact:

Lewie L. Lawrence - 804.758.2311: llawrence@mppdc.com

Project Status:

10/1/2011 - 9/30/2012; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Rural Chesapeake Bay/Seaside of Virginia Working Waterfront Coalition Final Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

For many Virginia rural coastal communities, there is a strong need to maximize the potential of the waterfront as a driver for economic vitality. However, market forces, changing demographics, and increasing tax burdens on waterfront properties are increasingly driving a transition of waterfront properties toward residential or recreational uses. In addition, regulatory changes affecting marine fisheries management are impacting water dependent industries and working waterfronts. If access to the waterfront is limited or severed, commercial and recreational fishermen, researchers, and other water-dependent businesses will have fewer options to successfully make a living from the tidal waters of the Commonwealth, including the Seaside on the Eastern shore. As a result, many rural Chesapeake Bay and Seaside communities are challenged to maintain their identity and are shifting away from water-dependent employment, causing economic and cultural changes that can limit economic diversification opportunities and fundamentally alter the nature of the communities themselves. These challenges are particularly acute in both rural Chesapeake Bay and Seaside Coastal Communities.

In this project there were three products: Product 1, the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (ANPDC), the Northern Neck Planning District Commission (NNPDC), and the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) – the coalition partners - each established a coalition node through Memorandums of Understanding; Product 2, a report was generated in which each Coalition Partner identified and researched three (four for ANPDC) working waterfront businesses that were closed or in danger of closing, discussed the reasons they closed or were in danger of closing, and documented the issues associated with the closing of each business; and, Product 3, the Coalition Partners coordinated with Marine Advisory Services at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science for scientific, technical and local industry coordination and collaboration, and developed a Working Waterfront graphic illustrating the connection of various working waterfront projects at the national, state, regional and local level.

The results of the report show that working waterfront businesses close for a variety of reasons such as: loss of fishery; death of owner; retirement of owner; sale to developer; and loss of property due to sea level rise, storms, and flooding. The zoning for the properties varies from businesses that: are non-conforming uses and cannot open after being closed for 2 years; are zoned residential with a conditional use permit; and have limited or no restrictions. The common theme for legacy planning was that it was not done. Subsequently, most of the businesses identified indicated that selling their property and/or business is their retirement solution, with no guarantee that the property would continue as a working waterfront. This report will be posted on www.mppdc.com for viewing by interested parties.

The establishment of the coalition nodes, the coordination with Marine Advisory Services, and the findings of the report will be used to transition to phase 2 of the project, the Chesapeake Bay/VA Seaside Working Waterfront Summit (Grant # NA12NOS4190168, Task #55). 

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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