Chesapeake Bay Critical Area

The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area is defined by a 1000' buffer from mean high water landward. More details and information about the Critical Area can be found in the Environmental Planning section of Planning and Zoning.

If new development is proposed in the Critical Area, those activities are regulated by Chapter 14:1 of the County code. Typically, site plans, subdivisions, and growth allocations all require Development Review applications when the Critical Area is involved, however, please consult the Threshold for Project Review document (PDF) to determine if an application also requires review by the Critical Area Commission.

A submittal may include the following: a forest plan, a habitat protection plan, shore erosion protection plan, 10% pollution reduction calculations, a buffer management plan, and/or an environmental assessment report. Please refer to 14:1-32 for the minimum information needed for submittal. Please note that inside the Critical Area, the Forest Conservation Act does not apply, there are separate standards.


As of November 1, 2017, new Critical Area maps have been adopted and are available digitally via the County's GIS / Property Viewer. If you have any questions about the maps, please contact this office.


If you have any other Critical Area questions, please contact this office or check the FAQ sections: Chesapeake Bay Critical Area or Critical Area Buffer.