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State Agency Action Overview

Summary of State Actions to Support Local Progress

This page provides an overview of the actions Virginia is taking to support adaptation efforts at the local level.

Technical Support for Adaptation at the Local Level

The 2008 Plan recommended that local governments be directed to incorporate sea-level rise into land-use plans floodplain ordinances. In October 2011, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation published a document titled Guidance for Local Floodplain Ordinances in Virginia. This guidance encourages communities to adopt at least one foot of freeboard to account for increases in water level and variability in storm magnitude due to climate change. Virginia's Coastal Zone Management Program also funded a number of projects between 2008 and 2014 to support state and regional efforts to prepare for the impacts of sea-level rise. These projects helped regional planning commissions and local governments integrate climate impacts into local land use plans and policies, and provided grants for mapping and GIS, technical assistance, policy research, and education and outreach.

The 2008 Plan also calls on local governments to update zoning and permitting ordinances to consider climate change. Some local governments have begun to update their codes and ordinance; for example, the City of Norfolk recently adopted an updated zoning ordinance designed to direct more intense and dense land uses to higher ground in the city. The ordinance also includes a “resilience quotient system” to encourage developers to enhance stormwater management and build resilience through a point system, where a certain number of points are required for a permit based upon the size and use of the project.

Support for Sea-Level Rise Adaptation in the Hampton Roads Region

The Commonwealth has also pursued projects supporting local action to enhance flood resilience in one of the most vulnerable regions of the state, the Hampton Roads region at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In 2013, the Hampton Road Transportation Planning Organization completed a study assessing the impacts of sea-level rise and storm surge on highways and roads in the Hampton Roads area, which a focus on access to military installations. Virginia’s coastal program also supported development of a Coastal Resiliency Study by the Hampton Roads Planning District that provided recommendations for how local governments in the region could incorporate considerations of sea-level rise in local plans. Commonwealth agencies also participated in a the Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Pilot Projects that brought together academia, local governments, regional planning commissions, and the U.S. Department of Defense to work on adaptation and preparedness with a focus on the intersections between regional resilience and national security.


(Research last updated: June 28, 2018).



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