Navigating the Permit Process
Several agencies are involved in regulating wetland-disturbing activities in Virginia:
Local - Wetlands Boards implement the provisions of the Tidal Wetlands Act, and work under the oversight of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and are responsible for the issuance of permits for impacts in the intertidal zone, which is essentially the land exposed at low tide and covered by water at high tide (subaqueous land).
State/Local - While not part of the wetlands, a 100-foot-strip (shoreline buffer) of your property landward of the shoreline comes under the regulatory authority of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. You will need to apply for an exception to the Chesapeake Bay Act regulations to undertake any building project or significant alteration of vegetation within the buffer. This program is administered by local government.
State - The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must issue a Virginia Water Protection Permit for impacts to both tidal and non-tidal wetlands and shallow water habitat. If there are impacts to “subaqueous land” – land submerged at low tide, the VMRC must issue a separate permit for that.
Federal - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , under provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, must issue a federal permit for impacts to both tidal and non-tidal wetlands and shallow water habitat.