I S S U E   A L E R T  -  May 21, 2003

Fairfax County Defers Chesapeake Bay Decision Until June 2, 2003

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance on May 19, 2003. Because of the significant issues and concerns raised, a decision was deferred until June 2, 2003 at 3:30 p.m.

You have the opportunity to express your opinions to your elected officials during this interim period. Questions raised by the BOS indicate that they are concerned by the difficulty of implementing this ordinance as proposed and want to improve its provisions. However, to do so, they need your input!

You can contact your Supervisors at:

Katherine Hanley, Chairman (At-large)
Phone: (703) 324-2321

Gerry Hyland, Vice Chairman (Mount Vernon District)
Phone: (703) 780-7518
Email: mtvernon@fairfaxcounty.gov

Sharon Bulova (Braddock District)
Phone: (703) 425-9300
Email: braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov

Gerald Connolly (Providence District)
Phone: (703) 560-6946
Email: provdist@fairfaxcounty.gov

Michael R. Frey (Sully District)
Phone: (703) 814-7100
Email: sully@fairfaxcounty.gov

Penelope Gross (Mason District)
Phone: (703) 256-7717
Email: mason@fairfaxcounty.gov

Catherine Hudgins (Hunter Mill District)
Phone: (703) 478-0283
Email: hntrmill@fairfaxcounty.gov

Dana Kauffman (Lee District)
Phone: (703) 971-6262
Email: leedist@fairfaxcounty.gov

Elaine McConnell (Springfield District)
Phone: (703) 324-2500
Email: Springfield@fairfaxcounty.gov

Stuart Mendelsohn (Dranesville District)
Phone: (703) 471-5076
Email: dranewsville@fairfaxcounty.gov

The biggest issues that raise the uncertainty and implementation costs of this ordinance are:

1.       Effective Date. The state does not require these changes to occur until December 31, 2003. By proposing to effect these changes on July 18, 2003 5 months prior to completion of the RPA maps - landowners in much of the County cannot be certain if they are affected without conducting a field study. Even if your property is currently outside of the estimated RPA, your property could potentially be included in the field-verified RPA zone.

2.       Stream Width. The County proposes to define the width of a stream differently than what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) define as the width of a stream. The difference is depicted below:


This will increase the extent of the RPA and the cost of locating these boundaries as often two parallel lines will need to be flagged and surveyed. It is not required by the state.

3.       Vesting. The County does propose to provide vesting for projects in various stages of the approval process (see Fairfax County's vesting policy memorandum). However, unlike Prince William County, Fairfax is not proposing to vest Resource Protection Area Plans approved by the County. People that have expended time and money to prepare an RPA plan and have financial expectations in reliance upon this boundary, will not be able to rely upon this previous County approval. Prince William County determined that state law required RPA plans to be vested for five years after their approval. Fairfax County has reached a different conclusion.

For a more detailed description of these and other issues, refer to WSSI's comment letter to Katherine K. Hanley, dated May 15, 2003.

What Should Property Owners and Taxpayers Do?

  • Examine the Interim RPA maps at Fairfax County's website and see if it's likely that you are affected.
  • Review the proposed changes.
  • Contact your supervisor to express your opinions.
  • For more information on this topic, refer to WSSI's May 9, 2003 edition of FieldNotes, or contact Mike Rolband at mrolband@wetlandstudies.com or Mark Headly at mheadly@wetlandstudies.com.

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    About Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI):

    WSSI is the leading provider of wetland science and water resource engineering consulting services in Northern Virginia. The firm has worked on over 1,200 sites, comprising more than 70,000 acres, and has created hundreds of acres of wetlands and restored miles of streams in the area. Our team of 42 engineers, scientists, technicians, GIS/survey specialists, and administrative staff yield a unique combination of disciplines focused on wetlands and water resources and provide creative solutions for integrating the constraints of economics and land plan requirements with local, state and federal environmental regulations. For more information about WSSI, visit our web site at www.wetlandstudies.com.