Summary of Work Session 2


Protection and Progress in the Dragon Run

coordinating land use policies and practices


February 22, 2005Saluda, Virginia




Fred Hutson (Essex); Rick Allen, Anne Ducey-Ortiz, Hal McVey, Buddy Rodgers (Gloucester); Robert Gibson, Kempton Shields (King and Queen); Amy Easterbrook (Middlesex); David Fuss (MPPDC); Vlad Gavrilovic (Paradigm Design)


Welcome & Introductions


Vlad Gavrilovic began introductions. This is a Steering Committee project that is focused on drafting model comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance language designed to preserve the traditional land uses and natural resources of the Dragon Run. Vlad is the consultant for the project and will be facilitating the process. He will also be available to assist the counties in adapting the model language to their own comp plans and zoning ordinances, if needed.


Briefing on Project Scope & Schedule


Vlad provided an abbreviated overview of the project scope and schedule. Vlad provided background for the project, recalling that the four counties and MPPDC signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2001 that outlined the goals and objectives for a Special Area Management Plan for the Dragon Run. Vlad reviewed his role and the process of developing the Dragon Run Land Use Policy Audit in 2003. He reviewed the process and status of the watershed management plan. And, for 2005, the idea is to begin implementing some recommendations by getting into specifics.


The objectives are to:

  1. Implement the goals and objectives of the Memorandum of Agreement
  2. Develop model planning policies and standards to achieve consistency throughout the watershed
  3. Work with each county to customize to the existing planning and zoning framework and encourage compatible economic development


There will be two phases to the project. Phase 1 will involve developing model districts for the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance and will include outreach and illustrations to communicate these ideas. Phase 2 will involve working with the counties to adapt the models. Vlad will prepare technical memoranda and work with county staff to relate the models to the existing county framework. He will be available for public informational meetings and support for adoption of the amendments.


Vlad briefly reviewed the roles of the following:


  • Citizens, landowners, stakeholders – input, evaluation, consensus
  • Dragon Run Steering Committee (core group) – develop key recommendations
  • County officials – review, evaluate, adopt
  • County staff – review, refine, customize
  • Planning District Commission staff – technical, organizational
  • Consultant – technical “staff”


David Fuss reviewed the membership, purpose, and role of the Dragon Run Steering Committee and revisited the issue of Middlesex involvement given that they rescinded adoption of the watershed management plan due in large part to opposition by the Dragon Run Landowners Association.  Mr. McVey noted that one problem was that the Landowners Association did not raise any specific issues to be addressed nor did they offer any specific suggestions to address their concerns.


Draft Policy Framework


Vlad provided a handout with a bulleted outline of a draft policy framework and made the following points about it:

  • It is a conceptual or provisional framework and he is open to any change or refinement
  • There is minimal mention of the Dragon Run in the four county comprehensive plans
  • The main idea is to reinforce comprehensive plan policies for the Dragon Run area, coordinating among the four counties


A general question arose asking, “Why do we need to do this?”  If the model district is merely reinforcing what’s already on the books, then why go to all of this effort?


The outline of the draft policy framework is as follows:

  • Background
  • Intent
  • Concept
  • District Map
  • Policy Cornerstones
    • Rural Character
    • Land Uses
    • Water and Wastewater
    • Rural Economic Development
    • Recreation and Tourism
  • Implementation


Discussion of the features of the draft policy framework followed, including:

  • Mr. Hutson noted that the Planning Commissioners’ jobs would be much easier in interpreting proposed development if the policies were more well defined in the Dragon Run area
  • Mr. McVey asked if we should start with Middlesex zoning as a model if it is the strongest of the four counties
  • Vlad indicated that the Middlesex zoning ordinance is not always consistent with the comprehensive plan
  • Mr. Shields advocated for more strongly communicating the Task Force’s intentions in the “Concept” section of the framework
  • Mr. Rodgers inquired about how to treat designated development corridors/areas and existing uses
  • Mr. McVey asked about how to define the extent of the watershed planning area
  • Mr. Hutson wondered if there could be more than one district defined
  • Mr. McVey addressed the issue of non-conforming uses and whether they would be grandfathered
  • Mr. Shields indicated that he would rather decide upon policies first, then define the district boundaries
  • Mr. Shields noted that ~95% of King and Queen County is zoned agricultural and that any development more than 3 lots requires a rezoning; he felt that it does not make sense to apply these concepts all over the county
  • Mr. Shields wondered if there was a difference between having pollution in the Dragon Run and having pollution in the Mattaponi River; he also expressed a feeling that there is a difference between dumping a gallon of gas directly into the Dragon Run and dumping a gallon of gas 2 miles from the Dragon Run
  • Vlad noted that the Dragon Run Land Use Policy Audit found inconsistencies in all of the counties between the zoning ordinance, the subdivision ordinance, and the comprehensive plan
  • Mr. Shields believes that they are already aligned in King and Queen County
  • Mr. McVey noted that they are not aligned in Gloucester County
  • David Fuss noted that the long-range plans for the Hampton Roads Sanitation District include piping wastewater from Middlesex to Gloucester through the Dragon Run
  • Mr. Hutson said that there is a need to plan ahead for 20-40 years rather than react to crisis
  • Mr. Shields expressed concern about the Dragon Run district enacting a ban on all business uses for ¼ of King and Queen County
  • There was a discussion of land uses in the Dragon Run,  including compatible uses and conditional uses
  • There was a discussion noting the differences between rezonings, conditional use permits, and special exceptions; there may be some incompatible uses that are permitted by special exception or conditional use permit


District Map


Vlad reviewed a composite map of Future Land Use designated by the four counties in the Dragon Run watershed.  Vlad reviewed a composite map of Zoning Districts designated by the four counties in the Dragon Run watershed.  He presented a list of possible scenarios for defining the extent of the watershed district, including:


  1. The entire watershed as defined by topographic maps
  2. #1 with designated future land uses excluded, such as industrial and commercial
  3. #2 with designated zoning districts excluded, such as industrial and commercial
  1. #1 with existing uses excluded, such as industrial and commercial
  2. Any of #1-4 could use “lines of convenience” to determine boundaries, such as streams, roads, and other features


Mr. Shields indicated that we should focus on protecting the Dragon Run from the most imminent threat which is more intense uses, such as industrial.


Ms. Ducey-Ortiz agreed and added that it would be helpful to have some different policies and standards for planned development because staff could use more clear direction when evaluating proposals.


Mr. Hutson raised the issue of takings when limiting existing uses.


Mr. Shields said that an overlay district could limit the expansion of existing uses to adjacent areas.  He proposed using a measurable distance from wetlands and similar environmental features as a way to limit pollution and habitat fragmentation near the Dragon Run.  He believes that the possibility of limiting commercial uses up to four miles away from the main Dragon Run is too restrictive for King and Queen County.


Mr. McVey and Mr. Shields requested that staff/consultant prepare several possible scenarios for defining the extent of a watershed district so that the Task Force may consider these for the next meeting.  These scenarios could include a stream setback and a different set of policies for adjacent uplands.


Things to Do


  1. David will send out copies of the Memorandum of Agreement (2001)  and the Dragon Run Land Use Policy Audit (2003) for review by the Task Force


  1. Vlad and David will produce maps illustrating different possible scenarios for defining a district(s); some of these will be zoomed in to show a higher level of detail than can be seen by displaying the entire watershed