Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Advisory Group – Local Government Working Group

June 18, 2002



- Topics -

1.      Welcome


2.      Goals Review


3.      Brainstorm to Develop Action Plans -

Review Matrix


4.      Adjourn






Rachel and Russell Williams, Robert Gibson (King and Queen); Jack Miller, Thomas Jordan (Middlesex County); Beth Locklear (VA Natural Heritage); Mike Anderberg (Friends of Dragon Run); David Fuss (Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission)




David Fuss welcomed everyone and offered a brief overview of the Special Area Management Plan process up to this point. He distributed the final version of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that the Dragon Run Steering Committee approved and passed along to the Planning District Commission. He also distributed copies of a matrix comparing county comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for those who did not already have a copy. He also solicited feedback about how the planning process had worked in developing the goals and objectives in the MOA and asked for suggestions on how to improve the process. The primary response was to increase participation of other landowners, with specific attention paid to those watershed landowners who do not live along the main channel of the Dragon.


Goals Review


David asked the group to review the goals and objectives in the MOA and to offer ideas about how to achieve them.


Brainstorm to Develop Action Plans


Jack Miller noted that the matrix clearly showed a difference in conservation zoning between counties. Notably, Middlesex County has a Dragon Run Conservation District, while Essex and King and Queen Counties have no conservation zoning (other than Bay Act areas). Jack raised the specific issue of land application of biosolids, expressing concern that: local government has no jurisdiction in this area; state government lack of concern about the impacts to Dragon Run; inconsistency between the Bay Act buffer (100 feet from stream) and the biosolids buffer (much less); and concerns about human health and water quality.


There was further discussion about the Bay Act and its 100 foot buffer. Mike Anderberg suggested that a voluntary conservation zoning option could be employed by the counties that would be consistent across county boundaries and could be used throughout the watershed.


There was a brief discussion about how well county zoning supported agriculture and forestry. It was noted that commodity pricing is leading to larger (corporate) farms that are highly mechanized and produce large volume. Smaller farms must raise premium products (e.g. organic produce) to survive.


Concern was expressed about the cost of providing water and sewer services to support growing development. The source of adequate water was a particular concern and there was discussion about the Steering Committee’s past effort to simulate the construction of reservoir upstream from Saluda. Strong sentiment was expressed against the idea of a reservoir in the Dragon Run. Discussion shifted to mechanisms for preventing the construction of a reservoir. Conservation easements might be one mechanism of preventing a reservoir. Mike Anderberg noted that a Friends of Dragon Run easement could be overtaken through eminent domain, but that a Virginia Outdoors Foundation easement was exempted from state eminent domain (it could be overtaken by federal eminent domain).


Discussion then focused on Goal I, Objective C that refers to monitoring of existing plans and tools and assessing traditional uses and watershed health. Mike Anderberg felt that it is incumbent upon the counties themselves to review the actions of neighboring counties. Some possibilities for achieving this outcome are to use the Steering Committee, the Planning District Commission, and the direct county-to-county interaction. Doubts about the feasibility of county-to-county review were raised. The ideal situation would be: a formal agreement (MOA?) between counties to review major changes to major documents, such as comp plans; facilitated by the PDC who would keep a timeline of when county comp plan updates were to occur and alert other counties when the update process had begun; establish a dialogue at the Planning Commission level to allow input from the Steering Committee and other counties; and allow enough time for the Board of Supervisors to address the issues adequately after the Planning Commission had approved the updates. It was noted that CBLAD caused many changes to the comp plans and making these changes before the deadline consumed much of the time that the BOS should have had to address the issues thoroughly.


Finally, the topic of education and awareness of the SAMP project was discussed. Newspapers are one possible avenue, but they should be used with caution. For instance, when the Steering Committee investigated the impacts of the creation of a reservoir in the Dragon Run, the newspapers portrayed the Steering Committee and the PDC as proponents of a reservoir, which was not the intention of the investigation. Direct mailings to landowners is another method of disseminating information. Mike Anderberg has developed a database of landowners fronting the Dragon Run channel. He also noted that we needed to use a watershed-wide perspective when reaching out to landowners. Discussion focused on taking an informational presentation to existing groups (e.g. Farm Bureau, Extension Agents, Soil and Water Conservation Districts).




David indicated that he would prepare minutes from the meeting and alert the group to the next meeting time in July. The meeting was adjourned.