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A DEQ-mandated change leading to larger Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) in Henrico will impact buildable area. The good news is that RPA determinations will not be mandatory, saving developers in Henrico from that associated expense.

After DEQ’s recent compliance review of Henrico County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act program, the County was required to make a significant change in how it designates certain Resource Protection Areas (RPA). The County had been utilizing Information Bulletin 6: RPA Wetlands Designations issued by Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board in 1991 (the 1991 Guidance). DEQ is now requiring the County to base its RPA designations on the guidance document issued by the Department of Conservation and Recreation in 2007, entitled “Resource Protection Areas: Nontidal Wetlands Guidance on the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations” (the 2007 Guidance).

The practical outcome of utilizing the 2007 Guidance is that wetlands associated with intermittent streams that are “connected and contiguous” to a perennial stream are required to be considered RPA, instead of previously being optional RPA.

The County began implementing the 2007 guidance on July 1, 2020. Any projects that have received formal written comments from Henrico Public Works regarding RPA features prior to July 1, 2020, may continue following the 1991 Guidance. This includes written comments on preliminary plans, which will then become a required component of plan submittal. The County will not require or create an RPA Determination Form with a checklist of items to be submitted as other counties have required, such as Chesterfield and New Kent.

Many other localities have already been following the 2007 Guidance or have more stringent requirements in place. Because DEQ will return to the County in early fall for a reassessment, the County will not be entertaining exception requests to the RPA boundary decisions.

If you have questions about this change in Henrico County and how it could affect your development plans, please contact Jeff Geiger or Lisa Goodwin.

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Heather A. Scott

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