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Public Notice: VMRC Invites Public Comment April 28, 2009

Public Notice

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) invites public comment on proposed changes to the Commission's Regulation 4VAC20-395-10 ET SEQ that authorizes a General Permit for Emergency Situations and Water Quality Improvement Projects involving activities in non-tidal waterways, which shall serve as authorization for use of State-owned submerged lands pursuant to 28.2 -1204 of the Code of Virginia for qualifying projects.

In accordance with 28.2-103 and 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed changes will be held during the Commission's monthly meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, at the Marine Resources Commission, fourth floor Commission meeting room, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Written comments on the proposed changes should be mailed to Tony Watkinson, VMRC Habitat Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 5:00 p.m. Monday May 27, 2009. Copies of the proposed General Permit for Emergency Situations and Water Quality Improvement Projects may reviewed at the Commission offices Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and may be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2255.

The existing General Permit for Emergency Situations and Water Quality Improvement Projects was originally adopted by the Commission at its May 26, 1998, meeting and became effective July 1, 1998, in accordance with the provisions of 28.2-103 and 28.2-1207(C) of the Code of Virginia.

The General Permit was initially developed in response Chapter 845 Acts of Assembly 1997 that directed the Commission to develop an expedited process for the issuance of general permits for projects involving State-owned submerged lands. The General Permit addresses requirements stipulated by changes to 28.2-1207 of the Code of Virginia as a result of the legislation. The General Permit covers projects designed to improve water quality such as bioengineered streambank projects and livestock crossings, and address activities required during emergencies 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 emergency projects authorized by the existing General Permit were those considered to be exigencies under the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program.

Since the General Permit was originally adopted, the NRCS has revised their EWP program, and other agency involvement in stream restoration projects that are designed to improve water quality has increased. As such, there is a need to update the General Permit to address some of the EWP changes and to clarify its use for stream restoration projects. Provisions have has also been added to cover emergency work when there is a state of emergency declared by the Governor and for emergency repairs of public utility infrastructure.

The principle objective of the proposed revisions to the General Permit is to streamline the review process for projects that are deemed necessary in an emergency or which will result in improved water quality. Experience has shown that the types of projects covered by this general permit would normally receive an individual Commission permit following a public interest review. If the project qualifies for the General Permit, the Commission's public notice requirement would not be required.

VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES; THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REASONABLE ACCOMDATIONS DUE TO A DISABILIATY, PLEASE ADVISE THE COMMISSION SECRETARY AT (757) 247-2215 NO LESS THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEED.


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