Virginia CZM Program: 2015 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task Number:CZM logo

54

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Local Government Planning Options to Address the Impacts of Flooding and Sea Level Rise in Coastal Communities

Project Description:

The purpose of this project is to provide planning options to be considered by rural coastal local governments in the Middle Peninsula to assist with mitigating the impacts of flooding and sea level rise in coastal communities. The project will identify and explore planning and development techniques that may be implemented at the local level to encourage and steer development to properties located outside of high risk flood hazard areas. The project will also provide information on how local government-acquired land (such as land acquired under the FEMA directed Hazard Grant Mitigation Program HGMP) may be leveraged to encourage more elevations or relocations by commoditizing protected lands in high hazard areas. The project will provide information to Middle Peninsula localities on how each planning technique functions and guidance on the necessary steps and tools needed for effective implementation. 

The proposed pilot project area is Mathews County, Virginia, a rural coastal locality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Mathews is the smallest county in the Commonwealth with a vast coastal shoreline. The county’s low lying topography renders it highly vulnerable to coastal hazards such hurricanes, storm surge, and flooding. The county currently experiences one of the highest levels of sea level change on the east coast in addition to land subsidence and severe flooding. These events cause huge environmental and economic impacts to properties due to their vulnerability to adverse weather.  

Conservation has long been used as a tool to protect property to encourage open space and reduce sprawl. Conservation of properties in high hazard areas significantly reduces the risk to property and coastal wetlands and provides better opportunities for wetland restoration and protection. Local governments in the Middle Peninsula are granted powers under § 10.1-1010 to guide the creation, acceptance and duration of conservation easements. The question is how does local government incentivize a range of conservation methods without significantly reducing its most viable tax base? How does local government become more proactive in assisting those residents willing to relocate to areas in the community outside of high hazard areas? 

This project will explore planning tools that increase public safety and natural resource protection during hazardous events. Mitigation of these impacts promotes the Coastal Zone Management Program’s goal of Coastal Resilience by reducing the number of people and amount of development in high hazard areas. It also reduces nutrient runoff from impervious development by encouraging development in areas away from hazard areas. The project seeks to advance the goals of improved water quality, wetland protection, health and safety of human life and reduction of financial impacts at the federal, state and local level making coastal communities more resilient during storm events. 

The project has three objectives. This first is to identify planning techniques that could be used to help steer development from high risk areas to more suitable areas and how these techniques may be implemented. 

The second is to provide information on planning tools that local government can use to acquire land in hazard areas. The acquisition, either through donation or purchase, will allow for conservation and preservation of coastal properties and wetland habitat.

Finally, the project will provide information on whether donated properties can be converted into a funding source to subsidize acquisitions, relocation and retrofitting projects and if so, how is this being done elsewhere. 

MPPDC will partner with the Coastal Policy Law Clinic at the College of William & Mary to research and develop a report on the findings of various planning techniques being used in localities in and outside Virginia for similar purposes.

Federal Funding:

$14,792

Project Contact:

Marquitrice Mangham; 804.758.2311; mmangham@mppdc.com

Project Status:

10/1/15 - 9/30/16; Project Completed

Final Product:

Local Government Planning Options to Address the Impacts of Recurrent Flooding and Sea Level Rise (PDF)
Local Government Planning Options to Address the Impacts of Recurrent Flooding and Sea Level Rise Appendices (PDF)

Project Summary:

The purpose of this project is to provide planning options to be considered by rural coastal local governments in the Middle Peninsula to assist with mitigating the impacts of flooding and sea level rise in coastal communities. Using Mathews County as the pilot location, the Mathews County Planning Commission Chairman signed a letter of Engagement: Declaration of Need with the MPPDC dated October 19th, 2016 (appendix 7) requesting technical and professional assistance to help identify and explore planning and development techniques that may be implemented at the local level to “live with the water” or encourage and steer development to properties located outside of high risk flood hazard areas.

 

The project also provides information on how local governments may implement or leverage economic incentives to encourage value added benefit of commoditizing and leveraging lands at risk to flooding. The policy recommendations outlined in the report are based on the goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and general concerns expressed by the Mathews County Planning Commission.

 

Local governments have many policy tools already available to support local actions for sea level rise preparedness. The recommended tools seek to build on existing mechanisms already in place. While new policies will also be needed, existing tools provide the means to begin planning now. Each recommendation includes advantage, disadvantage, and “implementation burden”.  The implementation burden refers to the level of difficulty and amount of resources needed for implementation.   While new policies will also be needed, existing tools provide the means to begin planning now.  Options include Planning Tools (4 recommendations), Regulatory Tools (9 Recommendations), and Financial and Market Based Incentives (7 recommendations). 

As the Mathews Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors review and consider planning options, the Planning Commission expressed the need for all policy solutions to be compatible with its goal of  “Live with the Water” and not retreat from the water (see draft Mathews Planning Commission Goals, page 7 of this report).

 

Final report can be found at http://www.mppdc.com/index.php/reports/2016

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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