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Wetland And Stream Protection Proposal Riles Loudoun Residents

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By Jonathan Wilson

In Virginia, Loudoun's County supervisors are wondering whether it's time for their county to start adhering to the water quality rules outlined in the decades-old Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation act already applies to Virginia's 84 tidewater localities, including Loudoun County's neighbor's Fairfax and Prince William.

Loudoun would be the first county to voluntarily adopt the act which provides strict rules about development within 100 feet of streams and wetlands.

One requirement would require property owners in those Resource Protection Areas, or RPAs, to pay for environmental impact assessments before beginning even small construction projects such as a new deck.

At Monday night's crowded public hearing, Stephanie Smith, a homeowner in South Riding, said this would be just another example of government overstepping its bounds.

"To me the issue is either you favor people's property rights or you don't" says Smith.

County staff say only about 2 percent of existing structures in the county fall within RPAs. But Lori Waters, supervisor for the Broad Run District, says adopting an act designed for tidewater areas without tailoring it for Loudoun County doesn't make sense.

"It doesn't have Loudoun's stamp on it, and we definitely are hearing that tonight from the community," says Waters.

Supervisors chose not to ask their own questions about the proposal at the public hearing, they'll do that at the board's June 15 meeting.

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