Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays

Growth Allocation

A local government may use a portion of its growth allocation to change a designation from Resource Conservation Area to either Limited Development Area or Intensely Developed Area or to change a Limited Development Area to an Intensely Developed Area.

The following limitations apply to a local government’s use of growth allocation:

  • A jurisdiction’s growth allocation reserve consists of the number of acres representing five percent of its Resource Conservation Area lands, minus Federal property and tidal wetlands.
  • All Critical Area requirements relating to Habitat Protection Areas must be met regardless of the new land use designation.
  • A local jurisdiction must follow certain guidelines when deciding to change a Critical Area designation through the use of growth allocation. These guidelines provide that new development should be located:
  • within or adjacent to existing developed areas;
  • in an area and in a manner that optimizes benefits to water quality;
  • at least 300 feet beyond the landward edge of tidal waters and tidal wetlands; and,
  • for new Intensely Developed Areas, that they are located where they minimize impacts to adjacent Resource Conservation Areas.
  • When growth allocation is approved by a local jurisdiction, the Commission must approve the change in land use designation as an amendment to the local program. The Commission’s standard for review is that an amendment must be consistent with the goals and Criteria of the Critical Area Program.
  • Each jurisdiction within the Critical Area implements its own local program. Through its oversight role, the Critical Area Commission ensures that the proper amount of growth allocation acreage is deducted from a jurisdiction’s reserve and that Habitat Protection Areas are properly identified and protected. Locational decisions are the purview of the local jurisdiction.