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Engineering & Resource Protection

101-E Mounts Bay Rd.

Williamsburg, VA 23185



P: 757-253-6670

F: 757-259-4032


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8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


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Effective July 1, 2014, County became a VSMP Authority


Local Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) Program

James City County, Virginia is one of 84 localities in Virginia subject to the requirements of the Bay Act program because of the County’s geographic location in the Tidewater region of Virginia. The Bay Act program is mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia by Title 62.1, Chapter 3.1, Article 2.5 of the Code of Virginia and Chapter 830, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Designation and Management Regulations, 9VAC25-830-10 et. seq. of Virginia Administrative Code.

In 1990, James City County was the first locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt a Chesapeake Bay Preservation ordinance. The purposes of the ordinance is to control and regulate runoff at the source to protect against and minimize pollution and deposition of sediment in wetlands, streams and lakes in James City County which are tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The ordinance is intended to assist in the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from nonpoint source pollution from land uses or appurtenances within the Chesapeake Bay drainage area. Regulations in the ordinance are necessary for:

  • Protection of existing high quality state waters and restoration of all other state waters to a condition or quality that will permit all reasonable public uses and will support the propagation and growth of all aquatic life, including game fish, which might reasonably be expected to inhabit them;
  • Safeguarding the clean waters of the Commonwealth from pollution;
  • Prevention of any increase in pollution;
  • Reduction of existing pollution; and
  • Promotion of water resource conservation in order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of present and future citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Bay Act, regulations, local ordinance, and state published regulatory guidance for localities and manuals establish criteria used by James City County to administrate the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) program. The ordinance delineates all of James City County as a CBPA. The CBPA is further delineated on the general County CBPA map as Resource Protection Area (RPA) and Resource Management Area (RMA). All of James City County is an RMA. A RPA is defined as a component of a CBPA comprised of land 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. RPA’s include:

  • Tidal wetlands;
  • Tidal shores;
  • Non-tidal wetlands connected by surface flow and contiguous to tidal wetlands or water bodies with perennial flow;
  • A buffer area not less than 100 feet in width adjacent to and landward of the components listed in No. 1 through No. 3 above and along both sides of any water body with perennial flow.

The County’s general CBPA map is used as a guide to know the general location of RPAs. Site specific boundaries of RPAs are determined by the applicant through the preparation of an environmental inventory as required for the plan of development process or by submittal of a water quality impact assessment (WQIA). All development or redevelopment activities exceeding 2,500 square feet of land disturbance are subject to the plan of development review process. The County has established guidelines for the preparation of environmental inventories and WQIAs. In either case, site specific boundaries of the RPA are reviewed, confirmed, and approved by the Engineering and Resource Protection Division.

Most land use activities in the RPA are generally prohibited or restricted unless they are considered water dependent, constitute redevelopment, are deemed permitted buffer modifications, or are exempt. In such cases, an application is made and a waiver, Chesapeake Bay Exception (CBE), or exemption is granted. Certain Chesapeake Bay Exceptions can be processed administratively, while others must go through the local Chesapeake Bay Board. Certain activities, such as agriculture or silvicultural activities are exempt, but only if properly registered and such activities follow established procedure of those subject programs. County partnerships for such activities include the local Soil & Water Conservation District (agriculture) and the local office of the Virginia Department of Forestry for silvicultural activities (timbering). The local program may verify registration and/or compliance with procedures of those programs as necessary.

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area program, contact the Engineering and Resource Protection Division at 757-253-6670.

For more information about the Bay Act program, click here.

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