Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Advisory Group – Local Government Working Group

July 16, 2002




  1. Welcome


  1. Goals Review


  1. Brainstorm to Develop Action Plans

Review Comp Plan/Zoning Matrix


  1. Adjourn






Russell Williams (King and Queen); Paul Koll (King and Queen); Frank Herrin (King and Queen); Anne Ducey-Ortiz (Gloucester); Hoyt Wheeland (DCR); Robert Gibson (King and Queen); Prue Davis (Essex); Nancy Miller (CBLAD); David Fuss (MPPDC)


Goals Review


David asked the group to review the goals and objectives for the Dragon Run SAMP project and explained that the group’s charge is to recommend action plans to achieve those goals and objectives.


Brainstorm to Develop Action Plans


Discussion began with a review of Conservation Districts in the counties. Gloucester and Middlesex both have conservation districts. Each county has an overlay of the Chesapeake Bay Act Areas, which is unique to that county. Gloucester’s conservation district is determined by soils that are not suitable for building. Reservoirs are allowed in Gloucester’s conservation district, so a discussion of reservoirs followed. New reservoirs are not on Gloucester’s current plan, and there was a feeling that a reservoir in the Dragon Run is not very feasible. During part of each year, there is not enough water flow to support a reservoir. The group decided that this was not a pressing issue and the group would not deal with it at this time.


Discussion then shifted to Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act Ordinances in each county. Across county boundaries, the extent of Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) is consistent, mainly consisting of tidal and non-tidal streams and wetlands and a 100-foot buffer upland from those areas. Resource Management Areas (RMAs), however, are defined differently in each county. For instance, King and Queen Co. defines the RMA as 250 feet landward of the RPA and limits clearing, septic systems and driveways in the RMA. In Gloucester, whatever land is not defined as RPA is automatically defined as RMA.


The question became whether to try to make these areas more similar across county boundaries or leave them alone since they do currently adhere to CBLAD regulations. CBLAD recently enacted regulation changes, including a 5 year septic pump out requirement and a mandatory 100-foot building setback from RPAs. Prior to these regulation changes, some counties were flexible within the 100-foot buffer. Given that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state (counties can only do things that the state allows them to do), the feeling was that CBLAD should be the leader in making county ordinances consistent. There is not much motivation for a local government to lead the way since the state holds the authority. CBLAD is already working on a new compliance review to help counties amend their ordinances to be consistent with the regulation changes. Furthermore, Mr. Koll expressed his feeling that there was some duplication of effort at the state level and that CBLAD, DCR, and DEQ should speak with one voice to address water quality (the primary goal of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement) rather than pursue multiple efforts. This might be accomplished by making a joint application for water quality similar to a wetlands permit. There was also a feeling that there is already common ground among counties with respect to Bay Act and Erosion and Sediment Control standards (ex. shared wetlands engineer among K&Q, Essex, and King William).


While there was some concern that ordinances should be the same across counties, the overall feeling was that the idea of “consistency” does not mean “exactly the same.” As long as county ordinances are compliant with Bay Act regulations, CBLAD would not require county ordinances to read exactly the same. In summary, if the end result is better water quality, then what is the difference in how each county gets there if the end result is achieved. There was emphasis placed on the assistance offered by CBLAD, DEQ, and DCR to achieve compliance with regulations.


Finally, the group requested to see a map of RPAs and RMAs for the whole watershed. Gloucester County has their RPA/RMA mapped in GIS. The group was not sure about the other counties. David will pursue this request and provide a map, if possible.


Next, the group discussed the concern of rezoning. In particular, there was concern about rezoning in agricultural/countryside districts along the US Rt 17 corridor adjacent to commercial and industrial lots. The question of whether the Steering Committee analyzes rezoning requests arose. The Steering Committee could do that now, but does not. The idea of an overlay district adhering to the Dragon Run Watershed boundary was proposed. Within this overlay district, a rezoning request to the Planning Commission would automatically trigger a request for a response from the Steering Committee on that proposed rezoning request. This would apply only to actions that required a decision from a governing body (e.g. rezoning), rather than every development proposal, most of which require only action by county staff following existing land use laws.


This discussion was followed by a conversation about special exceptions in zoning districts. An example is that landfills are allowed as special exceptions in agricultural districts in Gloucester and Middlesex counties. In King and Queen, a rezoning request would be required in the agricultural district. The idea was proposed that the overlay district be applied to special exceptions and conditional use permits, too. This way, a rezoning request to the Planning Commission or a request for a special exception to the Board of Zoning Appeals or a request for a conditional use to the Board of Supervisors would automatically trigger a request for a response from the Steering Committee. This would allow the Steering Committee to monitor the activities in the watershed and detect any development trends. This activity is allowed under the Steering Committee’s Bylaws, but would require formal approval by the Steering Committee to undertake this new role. The group agreed that they should recommend that the Steering Committee undertake this new role.


The group asked for large-format maps of the zoning districts and future land use to aid discussion at the SAMP meetings.


It was noted that King and Queen and Essex are both undergoing Comprehensive Plan updates. Mr. Koll described the plan update process to King and Queen residents present at the meeting and invited them to join the next meeting on July 22.


Finally, David asked the group to consider what groups might be targeted for an information presentation about the SAMP process in order to spread the word throughout the community and make people aware of the Dragon Run SAMP. Ideas offered were Garden Clubs and Rotary Clubs.




The meeting was adjourned.