In 1988, the commonwealth of Virginia enacted the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (Bay Act). The Bay Act required the 84 Virginia communities, including Fairfax County, which border on the tidal portions of rivers that drain into the Chesapeake Bay (Tidewater jurisdictions) to institute water quality protection measures to improve the declining health of this unique national resource and its tributaries. The goal was to plan for and manage the adverse environmental impacts of growth and development in a manner that balances the objectives of improved water quality and continued growth. The criteria for implementation of the Bay Act are contained in the state's Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations originally adopted in 1989. Here in Fairfax County, we have tried to do our fair share in combating the problem of pollution in the bay. Twelve years ago, the Board of Supervisors enacted a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (Ordinance) which regulates the kinds of development that can occur in sensitive areas along streams that drain into the Potomac River and eventually the bay. These are known as Resource Protection Areas or RPAs. The remainder of the land in Fairfax County has been designated as a Resource Management Area or RMA. RMAs are comprised of lands that, if improperly used or developed, have a potential for causing significant harm to the water quality or for diminishing the functional value of the RPA. Collectively, RPAs and RMAs are known as Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas.
In 2001, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board, a state entity, mandated additional measures that must be enacted by all Tidewater jurisdictions. In order to comply with the state's new directives, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a revised Ordinance that became effective on Nov. 18, 2003. At the time the revised Ordinance was adopted, the Board separately adopted a policy for the treatment of approved and pending plans of development with respect to the amended Ordinance. The following information is provided to help Fairfax County property owners understand the recent amendments adopted by the Board of Supervisors. The recent amendments will not only help the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but will also safeguard the quality of our own rivers and streams.