Comment on Washington's proposed CAMA Land Use Plan

Environmental, Sound Rivers

Posted on March 23rd, 2023



The City of Washington is updating its Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Comprehensive Land Use Plan to guide growth and development within city limits, as well as extraterritorial jurisdiction, over the next 20 years.

Public input into this plan is crucial – if you have concerns about future development and growth in Washington related to anything from roadway construction to public parks to flooding, this is your chance to make your voice heard. The City is asking the public to comment on three questions:

1)   What do you like about the draft recommendations? What would you change?

2)   What do you like about the draft Future Land Use Map and character areas? Is there anything you would change?

3)   Do you have any additional comments?

This is the final opportunity for providing input into the plan before a draft is presented to the City of Washington Planning Board in April for approval. Included in the email Sound Rivers has drafted are our responses: things we would like to see included in the plan; things we would like to see changed.

You can view the City of Washington’s propose CAMA Land Use Plan here.

MORE BACKGROUND: North Carolina’s General Statutes require all municipalities to have a current comprehensive plan with a future land use map to guide their future development. Comprehensive plans set guidance for location and intensity of certain types of development, which guides decision making for City staff, Council and boards. The comprehensive plan is a policy document, meaning it influences decision making as opposed to dictating requirements. It is not a rezoning of the City.

The plan will serve as a guide for elected and appointed officials making significant land use decisions, decisions which will impact the entire community. The Future Land Use Map and character areas represent the community’s vision for the future and are one of the factors that guide decision makers and town staff in future rezoning, land use, or permit issuance decisions.


Sound Rivers Recommendations/Talking Points

(Comments reflect the format of the City’s three-question survey currently online here)


1.)   What do you like about the draft recommendations? What would you change?

Sound Rivers likes the inclusion of Goal 8: Protect and restore shorelines, water quality and the natural environment, and Goal 9: Increase resiliency to evolving environmental hazards and conditions. Protection of our water resources is vitally important to the health and wellbeing of this community, and a recognition of hazards related to localized flooding and coastal flooding is necessary to properly plan for the future of Washington and its residents.

Sound Rivers likes proposals that prioritize increased public access to parks, recreation opportunities and water access. Future development should prioritize public access over private development along the waterfront and river.


2.)   What do you like about the draft Future Land Use Map and character areas? Is there anything you would change?

Sound Rivers likes the inclusion of “Natural Hazard Areas” and the recognition that climate change and flooding are impacting, and will continue to impact, Washington, and development in the most vulnerable areas should be limited or deterred. Sound Rivers would change this definition to also include areas within the 0.2% annual flood chance area, or 500-year floodplain, as well as areas that have been inundated during hurricanes experienced over the past decade.

Sound Rivers would change the characterization of land on the south side of the river to only Natural Hazard Areas/Conservation, Parks, Open Space or Environmentally Constrained (CPOSE). Due to the infrastructure associated with a commercial marina beyond just boat slips (e.g., watercraft maintenance areas, short term housing, bath houses, etc. that are vulnerable to flooding and pose a risk to water quality should they be flooded), commercial marinas should not be located within these sensitive areas.

Sound Rivers believes that, in general, “Character Areas” should reflect a vision for the future and not cater to individual projects proposed by outside developers by including certain land or certain categories as “Character Areas.”


3.)    Do you have any additional comments?

Currently, a 9-Element Restoration Plan is being developed for the Jack’s Creek and Runyon Creek watersheds by the City of Washington, Sound Rivers, N.C. State, ECU, Council of Governments, and Kris Bass Engineering that includes collecting water-quality samples, mapping of all existing stormwater infrastructure, and drafting a plan and recommendations that includes public input. Once complete, this plan will provide opportunities to apply for state grant funds for water-quality projects in both the Jack’s Creek and Runyon Creek watersheds. Jack’s Creek drains a significant portion of stormwater from the developed, commercial area of Washington and has both water-quality and water-quantity issues. Improvements to the Jack’s Creek and Runyon Creek watersheds that include nature-based solutions, increased public recreation opportunities and measures to address water quality and localized flooding should be prioritized.









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