Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 28.2. Fisheries and Habitat of the Tidal Waters
Chapter 13. Wetlands
12/5/2021

Article 3. Permits and Review.

§ 28.2-1306. Permits required for certain activities; issuance of permits by Commission.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct any activity which would require a permit under a wetlands zoning ordinance without such a permit. Until the county, city, or town in which a person proposes to conduct an activity which would require a permit under a wetlands zoning ordinance adopts the wetlands zoning ordinance, the person shall apply for a permit directly to the Commission, except as provided in subsection C of § 28.2-1303. If an applicant desires to use or develop wetlands owned by the Commonwealth, he shall apply for a permit directly to the Commission, and in addition to the application fee required by the wetlands zoning ordinance, he shall pay those fees and royalties assessed under § 28.2-1206.

B. Upon notification by any county, city, or town that it has adopted the wetlands zoning ordinance, the Commission shall immediately forward to that jurisdiction's wetlands board any pending permit application over which that board would have had jurisdiction if the ordinance had been in effect at the time the application was filed. However, if requested by the applicant, the application shall remain within the Commission's jurisdiction.

C. The Commission shall process permit applications in accordance with the provisions of the wetlands zoning ordinance and the Commissioner, or his authorized representative, shall sign such permit; however, the Commission may designate one or more hearing officers who may, in lieu of the Commission, conduct public hearings as required under § 28.2-1302, and thereafter report their findings and recommendations to the Commission.

1972, c. 711, §§ 62.1-13.5, 62.1-13.9; 1973, cc. 382, 388; 1975, c. 268; 1979, c. 418; 1982, c. 300; 1985, c. 541; 1988, c. 587; 1989, c. 360; 1992, c. 836; 1994, c. 125.

§ 28.2-1307. Expedited permits; administrative procedures.

A. The Commission may, in conjunction with local wetlands boards and other affected state and federal agencies, develop administrative procedures to expedite the processing of applications for permits required under this chapter. Whenever an application is received by the Commission for a permit over which a local board has jurisdiction under a wetlands zoning ordinance, the Commission shall forward a copy of the application to that board within seven days.

B. The Commission shall, in conjunction with local wetlands boards and other affected state and federal agencies, develop an expedited process for issuing general wetlands permits to be used by applicants during emergency situations in which a determination has been made that there is a threat to public or private property, or to the health and safety of the public. The development of the general wetlands permit shall be in accordance with subdivision A 8 of § 2.2-4006.

1982, c. 300, § 62.1-13.5:2; 1992, c. 836; 1997, c. 868; 2010, c. 65.

§ 28.2-1308. Standards for use and development of wetlands; utilization of guidelines.

A. The following standards shall apply to the use and development of wetlands and shall be considered in the determination of whether any permit required by this chapter should be granted or denied:

1. Wetlands of primary ecological significance shall not be altered so that the ecological systems in the wetlands are unreasonably disturbed; and

2. Development in Tidewater Virginia, to the maximum extent practical, shall be concentrated in wetlands of lesser ecological significance, in vegetated wetlands which have been irreversibly disturbed before July 1, 1972, in nonvegetated wetlands which have been irreversibly disturbed prior to January 1, 1983, and in areas of Tidewater Virginia outside of wetlands.

B. The provisions of guidelines and minimum standards promulgated by the Commission pursuant to § 28.2-1301 shall be considered in applying the standards listed in subsection A of this section.

C. When any activity authorized by a permit issued pursuant to this chapter is conditioned upon compensatory mitigation for adverse impacts to wetlands, the applicant may be permitted to satisfy all or part of such mitigation requirements by the purchase or use of credits from any wetlands mitigation bank, including any banks owned by the permit applicant, that has been approved and is operating in accordance with applicable federal and state guidance, laws, or regulations for the establishment, use and operation of mitigation banks as long as (i) the bank is in the same fourth order subbasin, as defined by the hydrologic unit boundaries of the National Watershed Boundary Dataset or by the hydrologic unit system or dataset utilized and depicted or described in the bank's approved mitigation banking instrument, as the impacted site, or in an adjacent subbasin within the same river watershed, as the impacted site, or it meets all the conditions found in clauses (a) through (d) and either clause (e) or (f) of this subsection; (ii) the bank is ecologically preferable to practicable on-site and off-site individual mitigation options, as defined by federal wetland regulations; and (iii) the banking instrument, if approved after July 1, 1996, has been approved by a process that included public review and comment. When the bank is not located in the same subbasin or adjacent subbasin within the same river watershed as the impacted site, the purchase or use of credits shall not be allowed unless the applicant demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commission that (a) the impacts will occur as a result of a Virginia Department of Transportation linear project or as the result of a locality project for a locality whose jurisdiction encompasses multiple river watersheds; (b) there is no practical same river watershed mitigation alternative; (c) the impacts are less than one acre in a single and complete project within a subbasin; (d) there is no significant harm to water quality or fish and wildlife resources within the river watershed of the impacted site; and either (e) impacts within the Chesapeake Bay watershed are mitigated within the Chesapeake Bay watershed as close as possible to the impacted site or (f) impacts within subbasins 02080108, 02080208, and 03010205, as defined by the National Watershed Boundary Dataset, are mitigated in-kind within those subbasins as close as possible to the impacted site. After July 1, 2002, the provisions of clause (f) shall apply only to impacts within subdivisions of the listed subbasins where overlapping watersheds exist, as determined by the Department of Environmental Quality, provided the Department has made such a determination by that date. For the purposes of this subsection, the hydrologic unit boundaries of the National Watershed Boundary Dataset or other hydrologic unit system may be adjusted by the Department of Environmental Quality to reflect site-specific geographic or hydrologic information provided by the bank sponsor.

D. Where an agreed-upon permit condition requires the contribution of in-lieu fees to offset permitted wetland losses, the wetlands board shall credit the applicant for any in-lieu fee payments made to the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund or another dedicated wetlands restoration fund with reference to the same activity.

For the purposes of this section, "river watershed" means the Potomac River Basin, Shenandoah River Basin, James River Basin, Rappahannock River Basin, Roanoke and Yadkin Rivers Basin, Chowan River Basin (including the Dismal Swamp and Albemarle Sound), Tennessee River Basin, Big Sandy River Basin, Chesapeake Bay and its Small Coastal Basins, Atlantic Ocean, York River Basin, and the New River Basin.

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.3; 1982, c. 300; 1992, c. 836; 1996, c. 736; 1999, c. 8; 2011, c. 253; 2014, cc. 131, 332; 2020, c. 809.

§ 28.2-1309. Emergency sand grading activities on nonvegetated wetlands located on the Atlantic Shoreline of Virginia Beach [Not set out].

Not set out. ( 1992, c. 836.)

§ 28.2-1310. Commissioner to review all decisions of wetlands boards.

The Commissioner shall review all decisions of wetlands boards and request the Commission to review a decision only when he believes the board failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the wetlands zoning ordinance.

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.10; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1311. When Commission to review decision of wetlands board.

A. The Commission shall review a decision of a wetlands board when any of the following events occur:

1. An appeal is taken from the decision by the applicant or the county, city, or town where the wetlands are located.

2. The Commissioner requests the review. In order to make the request, the Commissioner shall notify the board, applicant, and the county, city, or town where the wetlands are located within ten days of receiving notice of the board's decision.

3. Twenty-five or more freeholders of property within the county, city, or town in which the proposed project is located sign and submit a petition to the Commission requesting the review. The petition shall indicate those specific instances where the petitioners allege that the board failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the wetlands zoning ordinance.

B. All requests for review or appeal shall be made within ten days of the date of the board's decision. The Commission shall hear and decide the review or appeal within forty-five days of receiving the request for review or notice of appeal. A continuance may be granted by the Commission on a motion of the applicant, the freeholders specified in subsection A of this section, or the county, city, or town where the wetlands are located.

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.11; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1312. Procedure for review; notice of decision.

A. The Commissioner shall cause notice of the review or appeal to be given to the board, the applicant, the county, city, or town where the wetlands are located, and where applicable, to the freeholders specified in § 28.2-1311.

B. The Commission shall hear the appeal or conduct the review of the record transmitted by the board to the Commissioner. The Commission may take such additional evidence as may be necessary to resolve any controversy as to the correctness of the record. The Commission, in its discretion, may also receive such other evidence as the ends of justice require.

C. The Commission shall notify the parties of its decision within forty-eight hours of the appeal or review hearing.

1972, c. 711, §§ 62.1-13.12, 62.1-13.14; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1313. When Commission to modify, remand, or reverse decision of wetlands board.

The Commission shall modify, remand, or reverse the decision of the wetlands board if:

1. The wetlands board, in reaching its decision, failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the wetlands zoning ordinance; or

2. The substantial rights of the appellant or the applicant have been prejudiced because the findings, conclusions, or decisions of the board are:

a. In violation of constitutional provisions;

b. In excess of statutory authority or jurisdiction of the wetlands board;

c. Made upon unlawful procedure;

d. Affected by other error of law;

e. Unsupported by the evidence on the record considered as a whole; or

f. Arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.13; 1975, c. 467; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1314. Time for issuance of permit.

No permit shall be issued until the period within which a request for review or an appeal to the Commission may be made has expired. If a request for review is made or an appeal is noted, no activity for which the permit is required shall be commenced until the Commission has notified the parties of its determination.

1973, c. 65, § 62.1-13.14:1; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1315. Judicial review.

An appeal from any Commission decision granting or denying a permit or from any Commission decision on the review of or appeal from a board decision may be taken by the applicant, any of the freeholders specified in subsection A of § 28.2-1311, or the county, city, or town where the wetlands are located. Judicial review shall be pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.15; 1982, c. 300; 1986, c. 615; 1992, c. 836.