Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§10.1-2100 et seq.) specifies that the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is to be accomplished through a cooperative state-local program and that local goverments are uniquely qualified to advance this goal through their zoning and land use authorities. Accordingly, cities, counties and towns in Tidewater, Virginia are required to comply with the Bay Act and the regulations. During the first several years of the program's existence, emphasis was placed on assisting local governments in identifying and mapping Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas, preparing local codes to implement the requirements of the Bay Act and regulations, and reviewing and amending local comprehensive plans for consistency with the regulatory requirements.
Due to their comprehensive nature, the requirements of the Bay Act regulations were implemented in phases:
- Designation and mapping of Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas and adoption of ordinances to protect these areas - Phase I
- Incorporation of water quality protection policies into local comprehensive plans - Phase II
- Incorporation of measure to protect waters of the state into local land use ordinances and identification of conflicts between land use ordinances and water quality protection - Phase III
To ensure that the law and regulations are consistently enforced at the local level, the State Water Control Board is responsible for ongoing review of these implementation measures. The Commonwealth has developed materials, with input from local governments and other stakeholders, as the policies, procedures and tools to be used in conducting local government compliance evaluations.
Compliance Evaluation Procedure and Review Elements
According to Section 4VAC50-90-260 of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations, the State Water Control Board evaluates compliance with the implementation of local Bay Act programs. This compliance process began in 2003.
During the first round of compliance evaluations, DCR evaluated local program Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area maps, the implementation of Land Use and Development Performance Criteria, the administration of Resource Protection Area requirements and regulatory relief mechanisms. Using this approach, the Department completed reviews of all 84 Bay Act localities. The regulations require that these compliance evaluations be conducted every five years and permit more frequent program reviews should such become necessary.
As the first round of compliance evaluations neared completion, DEQ staff worked with the former Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board (CBLAB) and its policy committee to revise the substance of the evaluations. The CBLAB’s intention was to review the Land Use and Development Performance Criteria as well as Comprehensive Plan Criteria and compliance with Phase III requirements. Phase III involves the incorporation of specific water quality provisions into local land use ordinances and reviewing land use requirements to identify conflicts with water quality protection. Compliance Evaluation Review Elements were refined based on review and comments from local governments, soil and water conservation district (SWCD) staff, and other interest groups. Based on this input, the board adopted 31 review elements on June 21, 2010. Here is the CBLAB-approved Compliance Evaluation Review Elements document.
1. Five-Year Compliance Review
In accordance with the Bay Act regulations compliance reviews are to occur on a five-year cycle, and, when feasible, will be conducted as part of the local government's comprehensive plan review and update process. The department may also conduct a comprehensive or partial program compliance review and evaluation of a local government program more frequently than the standard schedule. The review process consists of a self-evaluation by each local government of local program implementation and enforcement as well as an evaluation by department staff. Based on these evaluations, the board will make a determination of compliance regarding the implementation of each local program. Upon completion of the compliance review process and a finding of satisfactory implementation, the local program will be deemed compliant with the Bay Act and regulations. This compliant finding will be valid for a five-year period unless DEQ becomes aware of programmatic deficiencies through a complaint investigation or some other means.
2. Implementation Evaluation Checklist
Procedures and policies for the conduct of compliance evaluations of local programs and a set of checklists are used by DEQ and local staff. These mechanisms are used in preparing a “snap shot” of the local program.
3. Annual Implementation Reporting
In addition to the compliance review process, the regulations require that each Tidewater local government submit an annual report outlining the implementation of the local program between compliance evaluations. DEQ has developed and occassionally revises the reporting criteria. he board uses the information in these reports to assess local patterns of compliance with the Act and this chapter and to evaluate the need for an administrative proceeding to more closely review any individual local government's compliance. All proceedings of this nature are conducted in accordance with the Administrative Process Act. Status of localities' compliance (PDF).
Locality Annual Implementation Report
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations require Bay Act localities to annually submit a report outlining implementation of their local programs. The annual implementation report is intended to complement ongoing compliance review processes, and to provide post-review assessments of all local programs. Submittal by Bay Act localities of the two-page 2012 Assessment of Local Government Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Activity form meets this reporting requirement and helps Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board gauge the status and continued progress of local program implementation for those localities found compliant by the Board.
Localities will be required to submit their completed annual reports at the end of each fiscal year. This fixed reporting cycle will ensure that local reports reflect the current status of each local government’s program and help Department staff better assist localities in completing the reports and subsequent compliance evaluations.
To give all localities ample time to compile the necessary information prior to submission deadline, each locality will be informed of the information to be tracked for the annual report at the time their program is found compliant. DEQ has developed spreadsheets and databases that can be used by localities to track the requested information.
To return the questionnaire you may either mail or submit it electronically.
Mail the Annual Report questionnaire
Print a copy of the two-page questionnaire, fill out all the fields available for each of the 13 questions (along with any additional information you may want to include on a separate page) and mail it to:
Principal Environmental Planner
4949-A Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Submit your completed questionnaire electronically
Fill out all the fields available for each of the 13 questions
Save the completed form as a Word document
Save any additional information as a Word document
Send the saved files as an attachment to Shawn Smith
Questions or comments about the annual report requirement should be directed to Shawn Smith at (804) 527-5020.