Permitting is Required for Land Disturbance in Stafford County

It is the time of year for landscaping and other outdoor projects. Did you know that you need a permit if you disturb an area of land 2,500 square feet or greater in Stafford County?

What is considered land disturbance?

Land disturbance includes clearing, digging, grading, adding or removing dirt, paving and spreading asphalt millings. Also included is if you create a new impervious area where surface material is significantly obstructing or preventing the natural infiltration of water into the soil. Vegetation, such as groundcover, turf and plants, protects and stabilizes our soil, preventing sediment from leaving a site. Removing vegetation, including trees, is also considered land disturbance and is defined as clearing.

Why is this important?

Land disturbance is essentially any artificial change to the surface of the land that could alter its water runoff characteristics. These changes may result in soil erosion from wind or water and the moving of sediments into our waterways and neighboring lands. This kind of activity is regulated so that watercourses throughout Stafford County and surrounding waters, including the Chesapeake Bay, can be protected from the harmful effects of sedimentation and other pollutants.

How do I comply?

Stafford County is subject to the Chesapeake Bay Act and the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law and Regulations. As such, all land-disturbing activities exceeding 2,500 square feet are regulated. Stafford County’s Erosion and Sediment Control Program requires a grading (land disturbance) permit with an approved site-related plan before disturbance. The type of plan you submit depends on the area of land you will disturb and the complexity of your project. However, there are a few exceptions such as utilities working in the right of way or easements. Contact Stafford County’s Environmental Division at (540) 658-8830 before you begin any work that could be considered a land disturbance.