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New Fairfax ordinance change would make new development account for sea-level rise and climate change

A condominium building is under construction at 6707 Old Dominion Drive in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated 4/17) Fairfax County is moving forward with a new ordinance change that would step up the preservation of mature trees, shorelines and wetlands.

The change is part of bringing Fairfax County in line with state revisions to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Arena Designation and Management Regulations that were adopted by the State Water Control Board.

The Fairfax County website said it will add criteria regarding:

  • the preservation of mature trees
  • Coastal resilience
  • Adaptation to sea level rise and climate change

Getting into the specifics, the new regulations say mature trees can only be removed where necessary and where trees are removed, they must be replanted “to the maximum extent practicable.”

New provisions for climate change require consideration of sea-level rise and storm surge into land development. According to the County website, that means:

  • Require Resiliency Assessment for all RPA encroachments as part of WQIA
  • Based on assessment, require conditions based on a consideration of the impacts, including the use of best management practices

The resilience assessment is based on projections for the next 30 years to identify the impacts of sea level rise, storm surges and flooding.

“Based on the Resilience Assessment, the county may require conditions, alterations and adaptation measures,” a staff presentation said.