Resource Protection Areas

Resource Protection Areas
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 the 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 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.

Land Use Activities
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 and 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.