Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) Ordinance

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Image from USGS: fs/2006/3046/

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) Ordinance first came into being in Isle of Wight County in November 1990, following state legislation enacted in 1988. The ordinance imposes development standards that limit impervious cover in  favor of trees and woody vegetation that protect Chesapeake Bay water quality.

Trees and vegetation intercept rainfall, absorb and filter pollutants, provide shade, offer wildlife habitat, and provide erosion control. Impervious cover creates a hard surface that prevents natural infiltration and increases the rate of stormwater runoff, thereby speeding the rate of delivery of nutrients (fertilizers), sediments, and other pollutants into the watershed and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. The CBPA Ordinance attempts to balance the competing needs for environmental protection and development by promoting best practices in preservation and use of native vegetation, while setting limits on development to preserve the natural environment to the maximum extent possible.

In general the CBPA Ordinance regulates development by limiting impervious cover to 16 percent (the calculated average land cover condition of Tidewater, Virginia), preserving native vegetation to the maximum extent possible, banning development on slopes greater than15 percent, requiring erosion and sedimentation controls for any land disturbing greater than 2,500 square feet, requiring septic tank pump-outs at least once every five years, requiring a Plan of Development for any land disturbance greater than 2,500 square feet, controlling stormwater runoff with Best Management Practices (BMPs), and strictly limiting development in the RPA buffer.

Image from DCR Riparian Buffers : stormwater_management/ripbuff.shtml

One of the main CBPA Ordinance tools is the Resource Protection Area (RPA), which consists of a 100-foot-wide vegetated buffer area that starts at the edge of water (or wetlands or mean high water) and continues landward for 100 feet. The RPA serves as a buffer between activities on the land and the water. Buffer functions include minimizing soil erosion, intercepting and taking up nutrients, intercepting rainfall, slowing stormwater runoff, providing habitat and shade, and serving as a protective barrier for the waterways that drain into the Bay.

The RPA is defined as “that component of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area comprised of lands adjacent to water bodies with perennial flow that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform or are sensitive to impacts which may result in significant degradation to the quality of state waters.”

Another feature of the CBPA Ordinance is the Resource Management Area (RMA), which is that part of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area that is not classified as an RPA.

Another feature of the CBPA Ordinance is the Water Quality Impact Assessment (WQIA), a special environmental study that identifies and addresses environmental impacts for projects that will disturb any part of the 100-foot-wide RPA buffer, contain 10 acres or more for any use other than development of single-family detached residential lots, contain 25 acres or more for the development of single-family detached residential lots, or have unique characteristics.

The WQIA consists of a narrative and a site plan (or plans) that describe the project and its extent in the RPA. Impacts are shown and described that affect the RPA, topography, soils, hydrology, and vegetation. The WQIA also describes mitigations for the impacts. Most often the mitigations will be in the form of added landscaping to make up for that which is taken away by the project. In most cases the WQIA is reviewed and approved by the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission and the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors.

If you have questions about CBPA impacts, please contact:

Kim Hummel, Environmental Planner
(757) 357-9114

Please click on the links below to view current information about the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Areas in Isle of Wight County

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance
cbpa final ordinance rev 122106.pdf
133.5 KiB



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