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Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Exceptions

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, preserving native vegetation to the maximum extent possible, banning development on slopes greater than 15 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.

The planning commission shall review the request for an exception and the water quality impact assessment and may recommend the exception with such conditions and safeguards as deemed necessary to further the purpose and intent of this ordinance. In rendering its decision, the planning commission shall not recommend in favor of the applicant unless it finds:

  1. That the strict application of the ordinance would produce an undue hardship and will not confer upon the applicant any special privileges denied by this ordinance to other property owners in the CBPA areas;
  2. The exception request is not based on conditions or circumstances that are self-created or self-imposed, nor does the request arise from conditions or circumstances either permitted or non-conforming that are related to adjacent parcels;
  3. The exception request is the minimum necessary to afford relief;
  4. The exception request will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance, not injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare, and is not of substantial detriment to water quality; and
  5. Reasonable and appropriate conditions are imposed which will prevent the exception request from causing a degradation of water quality.

An exception to the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Preservation Area can be requested by submitting the Chesapeake Bay Exception Application.

Chesapeake Bay Exception Application

You can submit applications and plans via email to (applications must be in one complete PDF file to submit digitally) or they can be submitted in our office between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. Our address is 17140 Monument Circle, Suite 101, Isle of Wight VA 23397.

If you have any questions please email us at or call 757-365-6211.

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