With the long-awaited warm weather in sight, we see again the emergence of Norfolk flooding.
An afternoon bike ride downtown becomes a battle dodging torrential downpour and 4-foot splashback from passing cars. A walk home from Cafe Stella turns to a rampant race to the end of the sidewalk, splashing turmeric latte in-hand. We know the waters are rising around us during the winter, but with the issue now actively flooding our streets again, how can we take action – not just get drenched?
The first of many ongoing activities that bring attention and encourage action towards sea level rise is coming this week.
Beginning May 31st, the Norfolk Planning Department will be hosting a set of four informational meetings on the Norfolk Zoning Ordinance Rewrite that outline just where the boundaries are in the severity of flood risk. Working for three years to draft a new Zoning Ordinance, Vision 2100 will provide a complete draft ordinance ready for public review later this Spring. Anticipating the release of this draft, these meetings will cover the highlights, answer questions, and collect input on the future of Zoning in Norfolk. The meeting dates are:
Wednesday May 31st 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Mary D. Pretlow Library (111 W. Ocean View Avenue)
Monday June 5th 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Lamberts Point Community Center (1251 W. 42nd Street)
Thursday June 8th 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Norview Community Center (6380 Sewells Point Road)
Monday June 12th 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Southside Aquatic Center (1750 Campostella Road)
Comprehending where you stand (or potentially sink) on the issue is the first of many steps you can take in being prepared for your shifting waterfront.
To put a voice to the vision, I share a brief interview with Jeremy Sharp, the man with the plan himself.
AltDaily: Who are you, and what is your position within Vision 2100?
Jeremy Sharp: Principal Planner. I was the project manager for Vision 2100 and I am the project manager for the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite.
As a Hampton Roads resident, why is Vision 2100 important to me?
Vision 2100 is important to residents because it is a long-term plan to address the challenges of sea level rise, infrastructure needs and population growth. Developing a plan now helps ensure what we love about Norfolk now remains for generations to enjoy. Vision 2100 aims to make sure we are using resources efficiently, not just now but with an eye to the future. Vision 2100’s overall goal is to design the coastal community of the future, ensuring that Norfolk will be a dynamic, water-based city for generations to come.
a. The Zoning Ordinance Rewrite is attempting to incorporate certain relevant actions from Vision 2100 into code. For example, it will include code provisions to accomplish Vision 2100’s goal of helping property owners in high-risk areas recoup economic value they may lose to flooding.
What does the Vision 2100 project entail?
a. Vision 2100 provides guidance for the City in helping it respond to the challenges of sea level rise as well as the corresponding resiliency challenges of concentrated poverty and an economic base that is overly reliant on a single industry sector. Its goals primarily address the land use challenges in creating the coastal community of the future.
b. The Zoning Ordinance Rewrite helps to implement Vision 2100 by incorporating certain relevant provisions into code. The Zoning Ordinance will require more flood resilient development through stronger parking, landscaping, and open space requirements and will encourage development on higher ground by reducing certain regulations in those areas.
How can I get involved with Vision 2100?
Vision 2100 is complete and adopted at this point but the City is working through several projects aimed at implementing the vision. You can participate in the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite (with scheduled meetings beginning May 31). Additionally, there will be meetings on the light rail extension project over the next year, with the recommendations of Vision 2100 used to evaluate alternative routes on the west side of Norfolk.
How should I prepare for one of these meetings?
The nice thing is we are intending the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite meetings to serve as an introduction to the process, so no prep work is required to participate. We will be publishing a draft zoning ordinance following the meetings and hosting more detailed topical meetings later in the summer.
How else can I get involved with sea level rise?
Engage with us. Either through providing input in upcoming community meetings or look at ways you can help retain your rain on your property. We need all our residents and businesses to understand that they play an important role in ensuring Norfolk’s coastal resiliency. Just something as small as installing a rain garden or rain barrel helps us hold water and alleviate street flooding. We have easy tools for Retain Your Rain on the city’s website. Volunteer with many of our partner agencies and help clean the bay or plant wetlands. There’s lots of opportunities large and small to participate.
Who can I get in touch with for more information?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We hope residents will serve as ambassadors for the new Zoning Ordinance. While the new ordinance won’t immediately impact all of the residents of Norfolk, the changes will help our city thrive in the future with more sustainable and resilient construction.
I share this event in hopes to see fresh faces at these events that have so much to do with every one of us.
It’s simple to share your opinion when the only action to engage is “Send,” but I encourage you to step away from your on-screen activism and actually make a dent in the causes listed in your “interests.”
We risk losing everything by thinking we’re doing more than enough before doing much of anything at all.
If this “rising” issue peaks your interest, also see that you sign up for Clean the Bay Day this weekend, Saturday, June 3, 2017, between 9 am and noon. See what next-door ecosystem could use your afternoon energy.
If you have other missions that bring attention to the issue of sea level rise, I implore you to share them here and everywhere. We can have a positive impact on any issue we’re passion about, if only we act. If you care about it, share it!