Vol 20 No 8 November 16, 2012

Changes to Loudoun County Facility Standards Manual

Effective November 1, 2012, Loudoun County has implemented the first phase of a number of changes to their Facilities Standards Manual (FSM). This work began with the Board of Supervisors adopting on February 1, 2012, a resolution of intent to amend the FSM in its entirety. Phase I of this work was to identify and recommend amendments to streamline the land development process and focused on the requirements for Preliminary Soils Reviews, tree conservation plans, Phase I Archeology studies and the submission of redundant wetland information. Phase II will focus on restructuring and streamlining the FSM to assist the public in using the FSM. A summary of the changes to tree conservation plans, archeology studies and wetland information is provided below.

Section 7.300 has been renamed Tree Conservation Areas and includes the County's recommended priorities for tree conservation. These include vegetation within the Floodplain Overlay District; buffers along streams, wetlands, and steep sloped areas; large areas of contiguous drought; rare, threatened, and endangered plants; trees that are part of an historic site; hedgerows and fencerows; and healthy, vigorous trees with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of 30" or greater.

Section 7.301, tree preservation and Section 7.302, tree conservation plan have been eliminated and Section 7.400 has been renamed Tree Conservation and Landscape Plans, combining the former requirements of a Tree Conservation Plan with the landscape plan. Sections 7.401 and 7.402 now address the conservation of existing trees to meet canopy and buffer requirements and tree conservation of existing tree canopy and vegetation as a BMP, respectively. The revised requirements are intended to simplify the process of using existing vegetation to meet BMP requirements. In addition, tree canopy and vegetation on residential lots of 20,000 SF or less cannot be used to meet canopy or buffering and screening requirements.

Section 7.500 WETLANDS formerly described the wetland data that must be submitted with preliminary plats, construction plans and profiles and site plans, and grading permits. This section has been eliminated and chapter 8.000 has been modified to address the wetland information required as part of preliminary plat, construction plan and profile, and Grading Plan submissions. While the County's predictive wetland model (which is conservative and typically overstates their extent) or an actual delineation may be utilized at the Preliminary Plat stage, an actual delineation is required for the Construction Plans and profiles. Grading Permit applications require the Jurisdictional Determination (JD) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the delineated waters of the U.S. must be depicted on the E&S Control Plan, as well as the Grading Plan, per Section 8.111 A.6.a. Section 8.111.A.6.b requires that a digital file of the delineation, the location of all permitted impacts and copies of the JD and applicable federal and state wetland permits be part of the grading permit application.

Section 7.810 of the FSM has been revised to change the report requirements for certain Phase I archeological surveys. The revisions stipulate that the Director may approve a Phase I Archeological Management Summary report in lieu of the full Phase I report required by VDHR's "Guidelines for Conducting Historic Resources Survey in Virginia" in cases where the Phase I survey finds no archeological resources, or where the consultant determines that the archeological resources identified do not warrant further investigation. A Management Summary is an abbreviated report consisting only of a description of the subject property, a write-up of the archeological testing methodology and results, and a brief discussion of any archeological resources identified. Note that this form of report does not meet the requirements for any project involving government funding or Clean Water Act permits, as it does not meet the compliance standards for archeological reports under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. In such cases, submission of a full Phase I archeological report remains a requirement. Please note that the requirements for Phase I archeological field survey work remain unchanged.

For further information, please contact Mark Headly or Dan Lucey.