White Paper “Resource Protection Strategies – with special focus on Water Resources”
Sept 9, 2005 Strategic Plan Retreat
Board Identified Priorities
Goal: Protect the County’s natural resources
Priority: Implement additional strategies for resource protection
Goal: To develop policies and infrastructure improvements to address the County’s growing needs
Priority: In coordination with RWSA 1) Obtain a final approval of
supply plan within two years 2) Develop a comprehensive
wastewater plan, and 3)Implement an integrated water resource
Goal: Fund the Future
Priority: Provide funding for the stormwater management plan…
The Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan recommends a large number of conservation strategies—too many to list in this white paper. However, most of them fit into the following seven categories:
1 Promote and support Agricultural/Forestal Districts program
2 Create a county-level Agriculture/Conservation/Forestry Support program
3 Implementing mountain protection
4 Identifying and protecting natural conservation areas
5 Find methods to promote the co-existence of agriculture, forestry, and conservation within the rural landscape
6 Creation and implementation of education programs
7 Revision of land-use tax standards to allow properties to qualify through protection of environmental resources (e.g., biodiversity) and ecosystem services (e.g., watershed protection).
The Natural Resources and Cultural Assets Plan’s strategies largely fit into the following ten categories:
1 Biodiversity protection
2 Protection of agriculture and forestry resources
3 Standards for land uses on critical slopes
4 Mountain protection
5 Dark sky (light-pollution prevention)
6 Protection of scenic resources
7 Protection of historic resources
8 Open-space protection, including urban open spaces
10 Protecting water resources
Many efforts to protect the County’s natural resources are underway or at various levels of implementation. For example:
1 Protection of agriculture and forestry resources: The County currently has just less than 70,000 acres in Ag/For Districts. Ag/For Districts are one of the few useful voluntary tools to protect the Rural Areas. Since no significant additions have been made in the last several years, consideration of incentives, such as linking land use tax to enrollment in an Ag/For District to strengthen the program would benefit rural area and natural resource protection.
2 Support education programs for agriculture, forestry and conservation: While the County has no specific programs in place, the Cooperative Extension Office and other organizations are the ones that currently provide these services in our area. The County’s Rural Area Plan’s implementation strategies calls for a staff position to work on these programs and on other initiatives to protect the rural areas. Establishing this position in the future would provide additional expertise and an additional resource to implement proactive initiatives to enhance agricultural economic vitality and to further support voluntary protection efforts.
3 Mountain protection: The Mountain Protection Committee co-chairs are working with staff to draft a framework for an ordinance. The framework is to be presented to the Board by the MOD committee in May 06.
4 Natural areas and biodiversity: The Natural Heritage Committee began meeting in November, 2005, and continues work on its assigned tasks, which are:
- Input on and oversight of the maintenance, expansion, updating, and evaluation of the ongoing Biodiversity Assessment begun by the Biodiversity Work Group, and development of a protocol for assessing changes in the state of biodiversity (with reference to planning goals).
- Assistance in staff development of an action plan that specifies detailed steps for achieving protection of Biodiversity as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
- Development of policy recommendations to the Board in response to biodiversity issues and information gathered from the Biodiversity Assessment. The Committee should be consulted on programs, regulations, and Comprehensive Plan changes that may affect biodiversity protection.
- Development of educational materials and programs on biodiversity.
- Provision of periodic reports to the Board of Supervisors on the state of biodiversity in the County.
5 Compatibility of Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation: This issue has only been addressed at the policy level at this time.
6 Use-value Taxation Standards: This issue has only been addressed at the policy level. The program needs to be examined to ensure that it is protecting agriculture, forestry, and open space without inadvertently subsidizing residential development. Modifications are recommended to support landowners’ conservation efforts.
7 Standards for land uses on critical slopes: The Zoning Ordinance excludes critical slopes from the definition of legal building sites.
8 Dark sky (light-pollution prevention): Development-area projects are required to meet lighting standards.
9 Protection of scenic resources: The Entrance Corridor zoning overlay district helps to protect scenic views from designated roadways.
10 Protection of historic resources: The Historic Preservation Committee is working on recommendations for policies and programs that would protect historic resources; working with the RA staff to develop an ordinance amendment to encourage rehab, rebuilding, and use of historic country stores; and the development and management of a historic preservation database.
11 Greenways: The Parks and Recreation department is implementing the Greenways Plan.
Albemarle County has long been recognized as a leader among local governments in water resource protection. For over a quarter century, it has established land use plans based on water resource protection. It remains the only county to voluntarily implement the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. It aggressively pursued stormwater management to address both water quality and water quantity impacts of land development long before it was required. Albemarle is one of the few counties in Virginia to implement an ordinance for protection of groundwater. The County’s Comprehensive Plan contains no less than 28 objectives related to water resource protection. The Board has identified water resource protection as a top priority of the County’s current strategic plan, and has continued to identify water resources as a priority for the FY 07 – FY 10 Plan.
Because the County has numerous water resource goals and objectives, there is a need to assure there is consistency among these plans and that no gaps exist. To that end, the County has sought to create an integrated water resource strategy that incorporates all of these goals. That strategy has been delayed due to the unanticipated work required for RWSA to gain approval of a new water supply plan. The RWSA water supply plan appears to be nearing completion. Independent of RWSA, staff has moved forward and analyzed the County’s water resource objectives and has begun implementation of the stormwater master plan. County staff believes that the development of a riparian buffer program will be a particularly important strategy for water resource protection and should be embarked on as part of this strategic plan.
- Work on the water supply plan and Moores Creek wastewater permit is not controlled by the County of Albemarle
- Drought management plan requires coordination between County, City, RWSA, and ACSA, with possible State oversight
- Funding mechanisms may require new taxes and/or require pro-rata contributions from new development
- Work needs to be incorporated and prioritized within the Community Development Department’s Work Plan
Staff recommends the Board approve the following statement as part of the draft FY07-FY10 Strategic Plan:
By June 2010, the County, working in cooperation with Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and others, will increase the quality, supply, and protection of the County’s water resources.
Specific strategies would include:
● obtain DEQ approval for the water supply plan,
● obtain a VPDES wastewater permit that incorporates nutrient management strategies for the RWSA, and,
● develop a drought management plan that provides a consistent approach for both public water supply users and groundwater users.
Potential Outcome measures could include:
- DEQ approval of Water Supply plan
- VPDES approval of wastewater permit
- Water resource strategies in the Rural Area Plan codified
- Miles of degraded stream decreased based on DEQ assessments
- Miles of stream buffer protected
- Improvement in urban stream quality measured using 2002 County survey as a baseline
- Permanent funding mechanism for stormwater program is in place
- Citizen survey shows improved satisfaction with water resource protection
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