Your Action Needed: Protect Our Floodplains from Development, They’re Important Habitat!
Your Action Needed
On Wednesday, October 14 at 6 pm, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to consider proposed zoning ordinance amendments that would undo existing floodplain protections.
County professional staff have outlined numerous concerns about the amendments, which you can read here.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sent the letter below to our Board of Supervisors.
Please join us – along with our partners on the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition – in asking our Supervisors to maintain existing floodplain protections, and reject new amendments that would threaten those protections.
Now is the time to defend Loudoun County’s precious natural resources and wildlife, before they’re gone forever.
Write your own letter to the Supervisors using the points below, or come to speak at the public hearing, October 14 beginning at 6 pm, in the County Government Center at 1 Harrison Street, SE in Leesburg.
Email all the Supervisors together at email@example.com or find your Supervisor’s email here: http://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=2178. To call in advance to sign up to speak at the public hearing, call the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors at 703-777-0200.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Letter to our Board of Supervisors
Dear Chairman York and Members of the Board of Supervisors –
I write on behalf of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, a 20-year-old organization with over 1,000 members. This month, you will make a critical decision on Loudoun County’s future when you vote on proposed amendments to longstanding Zoning Ordinance protections for floodplains.
We have reviewed the many proposed amendments to floodplain ordinances as described in item 6 of the October 14 Public Hearing package, which would include allowing new stormwater management facilities, parking, and outdoor storage in floodplains; and weakening standards for relocation of natural stream channels. Each of these would threaten what remains of Loudoun County’s once-thriving natural environment and wildlife, while at the same time putting citizen health and safety at risk, and causing adverse economic impact to the majority of our local residents and businesses.
We ask that you reject the proposed amendments, and thereby maintain longstanding county floodplain protections which in turn help to protect our county’s citizens and natural resources.
Floodplains are critical to survival for many of our native wildlife species. Wood Turtles, a Virginia Threatened Species, once thrived in our county – but today are found in only a few remaining pockets of floodplain habitat. Other native species that rely on floodplain habitat include the Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo; and amphibians like the Marbled Salamander, Spotted Salamander, and Three-lined Salamander. The proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments would compound threats these species already face, by authorizing new uses directly on top of their now-rare habitats. The amendments would also exacerbate threats to these species by permitting new floodplain uses upstream and thereby causing pollutant run-off into their few remaining habitats in Loudoun, Fairfax, and other adjacent counties.
Floodplains are an asset to all our county’s citizens, as they help to keep our water clean and reduce flood risk. They help to trap pollutants and prevent these substances from reaching streams and drinking water, thereby reducing adverse human health effects and filtering costs. Floodplains provide flood control by storing stormwater and reducing the volume and velocity of flood flows, thereby reducing flood hazard risk to people and property. The free ecosystem services provided by floodplains help to keep Loudoun County property values strong and insurance costs low.
Existing Loudoun County zoning rules, put in place with comprehensive citizen input more than twenty years ago, call for maintaining the natural benefits of floodplains and requiring that certain floodplain uses be restricted or prohibited. According to our County website, “because of the implementation of Loudoun County’s floodplain management program, there are very few properties that experience recurring flood damage.”
The proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments would put our county’s citizens at risk in many ways. Proposed new stormwater management facilities would prevent our floodplains from providing the flood control services they now provide naturally and for free – thereby increasing flood risk and taxpayer costs. New parking lots would prevent floodplains from absorbing water during a flood event, and thereby increase the intensity of flood waters. New storage facilities in floodplains could result in stored materials being dislodged in a flood, causing water pollution and harm to people and property. Reducing standards for stream channel relocation would undermine county efforts currently in progress to maintain and improve water quality and habitat through the Watershed Implementation Plan.
Please protect Loudoun County’s future by rejecting the proposed amendments and maintaining existing floodplain protections.
Conservation Advocacy Chair and Member, Board of Directors
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
Photos by Nicole Hamilton. 1) Wood Turtle, one of our state threatened species due to habitat loss. 2) Floodplain, an undervalued resource that we need to preserve.