An update to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map was approved by the County Board on July 15th. This map depicts the location of Resource Protection Areas in Arlington. Periodic updates must be made to the map to comply with state law and the County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. The map update will also benefit property owners and the real estate and development communities.
What is the RPA?
The Resource Protection Area, or RPA, includes streams, rivers, and other water bodies and the environmentally sensitive lands within 100 feet of these water resources. These areas are known as stream or wetland buffers, and help protect water quality by:
- filtering out pollutants from stormwater runoff,
- reducing the volume of stormwater runoff,
- minimizing erosion, and
- providing wildlife habitat.
A fully vegetated stream buffer can help protect private property by preventing erosion along a water body. Steep slopes (25 percent or greater) that are adjacent to buffers are also part of the RPA because of the potential for erosion in these areas.
In RPAs, existing trees and other vegetation are protected and building projects are regulated to protect water quality.
Why is the RPA map being updated now?
- Regulatory requirement. The map must be updated periodically to comply with state law and the County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. The RPA map was last updated in 2003.
- New information from recent assessments. The County completed a Natural Resources Inventory in 2008, and conducted a stream assessment and storm sewer mapping for the Stormwater Master Plan in 2014. As a result of this work, some new segments of stream have been identified, and some features that are identified as streams on the 2003 map have been confirmed as other types of stormwater structures. Wetland areas identified in the natural resource inventory are being added to the map as well.
Proposed RPA Map
View the Proposed Streams, Watersheds and RPA map. Revised April, 2017
The updated map was approved by the County Board on July 15th, 2017 and will take effect on January 1, 2018.
- Thursday, July 14, 2016, 7:30 PM – Fairlington Community Center. Meeting presentation.
- Monday, July 18th, 2016, 7:30 PM – Langston Brown Community Center. Meeting presentation.
- Thursday, April 13, 2017, 1 PM – Inspection Services Division Contractor Meeting
- Thursday, April 20, 2017. 7 PM. Long Range Planning Commission. 2100 Clarendon Blvd, Room C/D
- Thursday, April 27. 7 PM. Urban Forestry Commission. 2700 S. Taylor St.
- Monday, May 1, 2017. 7:30 PM. Central Library Auditorium 1015 N. Quincy St.
June 20, 2017. 6:30 PM. County Board meeting. Request to Advertise. 2100 Clarendon Blvd, County Board Room 300.
July 5, 2017. 7 PM. Planning Commission. Approval of Updated Map. 2100 Clarendon Blvd, County Board Room 300.
If you are unable to attend the meetings, staff are available to meet with you, talk on the phone or via email to answer questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Impact on Property Value. We heard from several property owners that they were concerned about the impact of the RPA on their property value. We requested that the County’s real estate assessment office do a special study to see if the presence of RPA on a property has an impact on property sales. The real estate assessment office did a study of all RPA sales in the past 10 years, which included over 300 RPA properties. The study compares the ratio of the assessed property value with the sales price. This ratio is then compared with the same ratio for other non-RPA properties in Arlington to see it is within the same range.
For Arlington properties, the ratio of assessed property value to sales price came out to be 95.3%. The ratio of 95.3% for RPA properties is within the County’s target range of 95-97% for the median ratio of assessment to sale price. If the sales prices of RPA properties were depressed relative to non-RPA properties, this ratio would be higher (over 100%).
How will it affect me if RPA is added to my property? As a homeowner living in or near an RPA, you have an opportunity to help protect local streams and the Chesapeake Bay by preserving this valuable stream buffer. Removing invasive plant species and planting native plants, especially trees, within the Resource Protection Area can increase the ability of the stream buffer to remove pollutants, provide habitat and limit erosion.
I am planning to do an addition or replace my existing home. Will the RPA prevent me from improving my home? If you are planning a major construction project (such as building a new addition or a new home), having RPA present on your property may affect your plan or add to the conditions for having your project permitted. The time required to obtain a permit could also be affected by the additional review involved because of the RPA. However, if the RPA on your property is already impacted, because your home is already within the RPA or the area is already lawn, County staff take that into account with the review.
Additionally, you will have at one year following notification by the County of RPA on your property to initiate permitting for any project you have currently planned. County staff are available to consult with you about any projects or development activities you are considering and how having RPA on your property could affect those plans.
How many properties in Arlington have RPA (with the current update)? Approximately 1500 properties in Arlington have RPA on the property.
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) map is a component of the County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 61) and is required by the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations. The purpose of both the regulations is to improve the health of local streams, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.
The CBPA map shows all lands identified as RPAs by the County Board and is more often referred to as the RPA map. RPAs are the most sensitive lands adjacent to streams where water quality is more likely to be negatively impacted during development. RPAs in Arlington also include “such other lands considered by the County Board…to be necessary to protect the quality of State waters.” Under the “other lands” provision, the ordinance designates as RPA all natural and man-made stream channels mapped in the County’s GIS system, whether perennial or intermittent, along with a 100 foot buffer along both sides of such channels and any adjacent 25 percent or greater slopes.