Can you still build a bulkhead along the shoreline in coastal Virginia to protect your property? Well, it depends, but now the answer is more likely to be “no.” Major changes to how Virginia tidal waterfront property owners and operators can protect their shorelines were recently adopted as part of a revised version of Virginia’s Tidal Wetlands Guidelines (“Guidelines”) issued by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (“VMRC”). Driving many of the core changes were a living shoreline use mandate and climate change resiliency objectives contained in Senate Bill 776 (“SB776”) passed by the General Assembly last year. While it is still unclear how VMRC and local wetlands boards implementing the revised Guidelines will address the practical and technical concerns raised by the new requirements, the net result is that tidal waterfront owners in Virginia will face a much greater burden when seeking to construct hardened structure improvements (e.g., bulkheads, sea walls, and revetments).
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