Buchanan County, VA
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Buchanan County 3-3-1997. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
[In regard to statutory references, unless the county specifically amends the statutory provisions to the contrary or repeals the statutory provisions, future amendments to said statute shall take effect as provided by law.]
Land use — See Ch. 51.
The purpose of these provisions is to prevent the loss of life and property, the creation of health and safety hazards, the disruption of commerce and governmental services, the extraordinary and unnecessary expenditure of public funds for flood protection and relief and the impairment of the tax base by:
A. 
Regulating uses, activities and development which, alone or in combination with other existing or future uses, activities and development, will cause unacceptable increases in flood heights, velocities and frequencies.
B. 
Restricting or prohibiting certain uses, activities and development from locating within districts subject to flooding.
C. 
Requiring all those uses, activities and developments that do occur in floodprone districts to be protected and/or floodproofed against flooding and flood damage.
D. 
Protecting individuals from buying land and structures, which are unsuited for intended purposes because of flood hazards.
These provisions shall apply to all lands within the jurisdiction of Buchanan County and identified as being in the one-hundred-year floodplain by the Federal Insurance Administration.
A. 
No land shall hereafter be developed and no structure shall be located, relocated, constructed, reconstructed, enlarged or structurally altered except in full compliance with the terms and provisions of this chapter and any other applicable ordinances and regulations which apply to uses within the jurisdiction of this chapter.
B. 
The degree of flood protection sought by the provisions of this chapter is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on acceptable engineering methods of study. Larger floods may occur on rare occasions. Flood heights may be increased by man-made or natural causes, such as ice jams and bridge openings restricted by debris. This chapter does not imply that districts outside the floodplain district or that land uses permitted within such districts will be free from flooding or flood damages.
C. 
This chapter shall not create liability on the part of Buchanan County or any officer or employee thereof for any flood damages that result from reliance on this chapter or any administrative decision lawfully made thereunder.
This chapter supersedes any ordinance currently in effect in flood-prone districts. However, any underlying ordinance shall remain in full force and effect to the extent that its provisions are more restrictive than this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BASE FLOOD/ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR FLOOD
A flood that, on the average, is likely to occur once every 100 years (i.e., that has a one-percent chance of occurring each year, although the flood may occur in any year).
BASE FLOOD ELEVATION (BFE)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency designated one-hundred-year water surface elevation.
BASEMENT
Any area of the building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.
DEVELOPMENT
Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials.
FLOODPLAIN
Any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source.
FLOODWAY
The channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height.
FREEBOARD
A factor of safety usually expressed in feet above a flood level for purposes of floodplain management.
LOWEST FLOOR
The lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement).
PLANNING COMMISSION
The board appointed to review appeals made by individuals with regard to decisions of the County Administrator in the interpretation of this chapter.
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
A vehicle which is:
A. 
Built on a single chassis;
B. 
Four hundred square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projection;
C. 
Designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light-duty truck; and
D. 
Designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational camping, travel or seasonal use.
SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE
Damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT
Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred substantial damage regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which is the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions or any alteration of a historic structure, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structures continued designation as a historic structure.
Basis of districts. The various floodplain districts shall include areas subject to inundation by waters of the one-hundred-year flood. The basis for the delineation of these districts shall be the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for Buchanan County prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Insurance Administration, dated August 15, 1996, as amended.
A. 
The Floodway District is delineated, for purposes of this chapter, using the criterion that certain areas within the floodplain must be capable of carrying the waters of the one-hundred-year flood without increasing the water surface elevation of that flood more than one foot at any point. The areas included in this district are specifically defined in Table 2 of the above-referenced Flood Insurance Study and shown on the accompanying Flood Boundary and Floodway Map or Flood Insurance Rate Map.
B. 
The Flood-Fringe District shall be that area of the one-hundred-year floodplain not included in the Floodway District. The basis for the outermost boundary of the district shall be the one-hundred-year flood elevations contained in the flood profiles of the above-referenced Flood Insurance Study and as shown on the accompanying Flood Boundary and Floodway Map or Flood Insurance Rate Map.
C. 
The Approximated Floodplain District shall be that floodplain area for which no detailed flood profiles or elevations are provided, but where a one-hundred-year floodplain boundary has been approximated. Such areas are shown as Zone A on the maps accompanying the Flood Insurance Study. For these areas, the one-hundred-year flood elevations and floodway information from federal, state and other acceptable sources shall be used, when available. Where the specific one-hundred-year flood elevation cannot be determined for this area using other sources of data, such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers Floodplain Information Reports, United States Geological Survey Flood-Prone Quadrangles, etc., then the applicant for the proposed use, development and/or activity shall determine this elevation in accordance with hydrologic and hydraulic engineering techniques. Hydrologic and hydraulic analyses shall be undertaken only by professional engineers or others of demonstrated qualifications, who shall certify that the technical methods used correctly reflect currently accepted technical concepts. Studies, analyses, computations, etc., shall be submitted in sufficient detail to allow a thorough review by the Buchanan County.
The boundaries of the Floodplain Districts are established as shown on the Flood Boundary and Floodway Map and/or Flood Insurance Rate Map, which is declared to be a part of this chapter and which shall be kept on file at the Buchanan County offices.
The delineation of any of the floodplain districts may be revised by the Board of Supervisors where natural or man-made changes have occurred and/or where more detailed studies have been conducted or undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers or other qualified agency or an individual documents the need for such change. However, prior to any such change, approval must be obtained from the Federal Insurance Administration.
Initial interpretations of the boundaries of the floodplain districts shall be made by the County Administrator. Should a dispute arise concerning the boundaries of any of the districts, the Planning Commission shall make the necessary determination. The person questioning or contesting the location of the district boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to present his case to the Board and to submit his own technical evidence if he so desires.
A. 
Permit requirement. All uses, activities and development occurring within any floodplain district shall be undertaken only upon the issuance of a building permit. Such development shall be undertaken only in strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with all other applicable codes and ordinances, such as the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code and the Buchanan County Subdivision Regulations.[1] Prior to the issuance of any such permit, the County Administrator shall require all applications to include compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. Under no circumstances shall any use, activity and/or development adversely affect the capacity of the channels or floodway of any watercourse, drainage ditch or any other drainage facility or system.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 25, Building Construction; and Ch. 51, Land Use, Art. I, Subdivision of Land.
B. 
Alteration or relocation of watercourse. Prior to any proposed alteration or relocation of any channels or of any watercourse, stream, etc., within this jurisdiction, a permit shall be obtained from the United States Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (a joint permit application is available from any of these organizations). Furthermore, notification of the proposal shall be given by the applicant to all affected adjacent jurisdictions, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (Division of Soil and Water Conservation) and the Federal Insurance Administration.
C. 
Drainage facilities. Storm drainage facilities shall be designed to convey the flow of stormwater runoff in a safe and efficient manner. The system shall ensure proper drainage along streets and provide positive drainage away from buildings. The system shall also be designed to prevent the discharge of excess runoff onto adjacent properties.
D. 
Site plans and permit applications. All applications for development in the floodplain district and all building permits issued for the floodplain shall incorporate the following information:
(1) 
For structures to be elevated, the elevation of the lowest floor (including basement).
(2) 
For structures to be floodproofed (nonresidential only), the elevation to which the structure will be floodproofed.
(3) 
The elevation of the one-hundred-year flood.
(4) 
Topographic information showing existing and proposed ground elevations.
E. 
Recreational vehicles.
(1) 
Recreational vehicles placed on sites shall either:
(a) 
Be on the site for fewer than 180 consecutive days, be fully licensed and ready for highway use; or
(b) 
Meet the permit requirements for placement and the elevation and anchoring requirements for manufactured homes as contained in the Uniform Statewide Building Code.
(2) 
A recreational vehicle is ready for highway use if it is on its wheels or jacking system, is attached to the site only by quick-disconnect-type utilities and security devices and has no permanently attached additions.
In the Floodway District, no encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements or other development, shall be permitted unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment would not result in any increase in the one-hundred-year flood elevation.
The following uses and activities are permitted, provided that they are in compliance with the provisions of the underlying area and are not prohibited by any other ordinance, and provided that they do not require structures, fill or storage of materials and equipment:
A. 
Agricultural uses, such as general farming, pasture, grazing, outdoor plant nurseries, horticulture, truck farming, forestry, sod farming and wild crop harvesting.
B. 
Public and private recreational uses and activities, such as parks, day camps, picnic grounds, golf courses, boat launching and swimming areas, horseback riding and hiking trails, wildlife and nature preserves, game farms, fish hatcheries, trap and skeet game ranges and hunting and fishing areas.
C. 
Accessory residential uses, such as yard areas, gardens, play areas and pervious loading areas.
D. 
Accessory industrial and commercial uses, such as yard areas, pervious parking and loading areas, airport landing strips, etc.
A. 
In the Flood-Fringe and Approximated Floodplain Districts, the development and/or use of land shall be permitted in accordance with the regulations of the underlying area, provided that all such uses, activities and/or development shall be undertaken in strict compliance with the floodproofing and related provisions contained in the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code and all other applicable codes and ordinances.
B. 
Within the Approximated Floodplain District, all new subdivision proposals and other purposed developments (including proposals for manufactured home parks and subdivisions) greater than 50 lots or five acres, whichever is the lesser, shall include within such proposals base flood elevation data. The applicant shall also delineate a floodway area based on the requirement that all existing and future development not increase the one-hundred-year flood elevation more than one foot at any one point. The engineering principle equal reduction of conveyance shall be used to make the determination of increased flood heights.
C. 
Within the floodway area delineated by the applicant, the provisions of § 34-11 shall apply.
A. 
In passing upon applications for variances, the Buchanan County Planning Commission shall satisfy all relevant factors and procedures specified in other sections of Buchanan County's land use ordinances and consider the following additional factors:
(1) 
The danger to life and property due to increased flood heights or velocities caused by encroachments. No variance shall be granted for any proposed use, development or activity within any Floodway District that will cause any increase in the one-hundred-year flood elevation.
(2) 
The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands or downstream to the injury of others.
(3) 
The proposed water supply and sanitation systems and the ability of these systems to prevent disease, contamination and unsanitary conditions.
(4) 
The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owners.
(5) 
The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community.
(6) 
The requirements of the facility for a waterfront location.
(7) 
The availability of alternative locations not subject to flooding for the proposed use.
(8) 
The compatibility of the proposed use with existing development and development anticipated in the foreseeable future.
(9) 
The relationship of the proposed use to the Comprehensive Plan and floodplain management program for the area.
(10) 
The safety of access by ordinary and emergency vehicles to the property in time of flood.
(11) 
The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the floodwaters expected at the site.
(12) 
The repair or rehabilitation of historic structures upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure and the variance is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.
(13) 
Such other factors which are relevant to the purposes of this chapter.
B. 
The Planning Commission may refer any application and accompanying documentation pertaining to any request for a variance to any engineer or other qualified person or agency for technical assistance in evaluating the proposed project in relation to flood heights and velocities, and the adequacy of the plans for flood protection and other related matters.
C. 
Variances shall be issued only after the Planning Commission has determined that the granting of such will not result in unacceptable or prohibited increases in flood heights, additional threats to public safety or extraordinary public expense and will not create nuisances, cause fraud or victimization of the public or conflict with local laws or ordinances.
D. 
Variances shall be issued only after the Planning Commission has determined that variance will be the minimum required to provide relief from any hardship to the applicant.
E. 
The Planning Commission shall notify the applicant for a variance, in writing, that the issuance of a variance to construct a structure below the one-hundred-year flood elevation increases the risks to life and property and will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance.
F. 
A record shall be maintained of the above notification as well as all variance actions, including justification for the issuance of the variances. Any variances which are issued shall be noted in the annual or the biennial report submitted to the Federal Insurance Administrator.
A structure or use of a structure or premises which lawfully existed before the enactment of these provisions, but which is not in conformity with these provisions, may be continued subject to the following conditions:
A. 
Existing structures in the Floodway District shall not be expanded or enlarged unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed expansion would not result in any increase in the one-hundred-year flood elevation.
B. 
Any modifications, alteration, repair, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to a structure and/or use located in any floodplain area to an extent or amount of less than 50% of its market value, elevation and/or floodproofing should be considered to the greatest extent possible.
C. 
The modification, alteration, repair, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to a structure and/or use, regardless of its locations in a floodplain area, to an extent or amount of 50% or more of its market value shall be undertaken only in full compliance with the provisions of this chapter and the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.