Wetlands Board to hold Restoration Order hearing for Lorton property


Bulkhead along Massey Creek in Lorton, Virginia (Credit: Fairfax County Planning & Development)

The Fairfax County Wetlands Board, a seven-member body focused on protecting and preserving the county’s tidal wetlands, will hold a Restoration Order hearing at its Thursday, Oct. 12 meeting. The hearing involves a residential property in Lorton situated along Massey Creek — a waterway that flows into the Occoquan River.

In June 2021, the homeowners — who had purchased the waterfront property in 2014 — received a stop-work order from the Wetlands Board for work that contractors were doing to replace a failing bulkhead. The stop-work order was issued due to “impacts to tidal wetlands without a permit,” according to the board’s July 8, 2021 meeting minutes, and in August, following a “show cause hearing,” the board decided that a violation had occurred.

Since that time, the homeowners have gone back and forth with the Wetlands Board on joint permit applications, hearings, discussions about living shorelines, site visits, recommendations, compromises and permit application resubmissions; however, they have not been able to reach a mutually agreeable solution to date.

At the last board meeting in June, following the board’s denial of the homeowners’ second permit application, board members voted to schedule a restoration hearing. While the Wetland Board’s bylaws state that restoration hearings could result in an order being issued to homeowners to restore a site to its pre-development conditions, board chair Clyde Wilber said during the June 13 meeting that a restoration order “encourages a path to resolving the violation” and that the applicants could still reapply for a permit.

The Fairfax County Wetlands Board meeting and Restoration Order hearing will take place Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Gerry Hyland Government Center, Room 220 at 8350 Richmond Highway. There will be a public comment portion of the meeting, according to Katherine Hermann, chief of the Environmental Policy and Plan Development Branch at the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.

The meeting agenda, presentation slides, as well as past meeting minutes, are available on the board’s website.

[Editor’s Note: This news story provides a very brief, high-level overview of an upcoming meeting’s subject matter, which is important, complex and deserving of much more coverage. Unfortunately, I don’t have the bandwidth to delve deeper and explain all the facets, legalities and historical background of the situation. I thank those of you who asked me to write about the living shorelines topic and who provided information from various perspectives. I encourage readers to learn more about all sides of the issue.]

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