Chapter 5 Update: Natural Resources and Environment


Urban planning for the future should address how environmental goals can be incorporated in the development of the City’s thriving urban activity center. This should be done in such a way that not only are natural resources protected and improved, but the community reaps the maximum benefit from integrating natural resources with the built environment. 

The existing Natural Resources and Environment chapter, written in 2005 and available at this link, contains extensive narrative descriptions of the geography, geology, air quality, waterways, and flora and fauna of the City. Its vision focuses upon the protection, preservation, and restoration of the natural environment. Such defenses are essential, and indeed are required by laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. 


The revised draft chapter is framed in the context of adapting to anticipated change. Increasing population and significant land redevelopment are driving vibrant growth in the City. Demographic projections indicate that the City’s population will grow by 42 percent by 2040. Redevelopment affects an average of almost eight acres of commercial and residential property each year, and more than 180 acres of commercial property and 2000 homes may be candidates for future redevelopment. Changes in demographics and land use are taking place at a time when the climate is also changing. Climate models for the Metropolitan Washington region predict gradually increasing average temperatures, greater temperature extremes, increased precipitation, and more frequent and severe storm events. The review of this Natural Resources and Environment chapter of the comprehensive plan is an opportunity to consider how development and investment in the City could respond to the City’s changing environment.

Read the revised draft Natural Resources and Environment Chapter

The draft Vision statement for the chapter, which is a general statement of what we want to achieve, is as follows:

Increase the resiliency and environmental sustainability of the City by protecting, enhancing and expanding the City’s natural resources; increasing the use of green infrastructure; reducing consumption and waste of both energy and materials; and using all possible means to achieve beneficial environmental impacts and enhance community quality of life.

The following draft goals, which would be integrated across all City programs, projects, and efforts concerned with environmental sustainability and resilience issues, are based on the vision statement above:

  • Climate, Air and Energy: Enhance livability, sustainability and resilience. Protect the community from air pollution and the effects of climate change, while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the City.
  • Stormwater, Streams and Natural Springs: Protect the water resources of the City and the Chesapeake Bay from the adverse effects of pollution and climate change, reduce flooding, and improve water quality.
  • Urban Forest and Biodiversity: Protect and enhance the network of trees, green spaces and naturalized land on public and private property throughout the City, and the plants and wildlife it supports.
  • Consumption and Waste:   Avoid waste generation and reduce the harmful pollution and financial costs associated with waste management and disposal.
  • Community: Inform, educate, and engage the community in environmental action. Maximize the City’s capacity to address environmental issues through participation in regional, statewide, national, and international organizations.

Chapter Update Timing

May 7, 2018Planning CommissionProject Launch
May 16, 2018Tree CommissionRegular Meeting
May 17, 2018Environmental Sustainability CouncilRegular Meeting
June 18, 2018City CouncilWork Session
June 20, 2018Tree CommissionRegular Meeting
June 21, 2018Environmental Sustainability CouncilRegular Meeting
August 18, 2018General publicCommunity Meeting
August/September 2018General publicFarmer's Market pop-ups
April 15, 2019Planning CommissionWork Session
April - June, 2019Boards & Commissions: Arts & Humanities Council; Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation;  Environmental Sustainability Council; Historic Architectural Review Board; Historical Commission; Recreation & Parks Board; Tree Commission
Other civic organizations: Village Preservation & Improvement Society; Chamber of Commerce

May 20, 2019City CouncilWork Session
September 3, 2019Planning CommissionWork Session
September 4, 2019Architectural Advisory BoardRegular Meeting
September 16, 2019City CouncilWork Session
September 18, 2019Library BoardRegular Meeting
September 19, 2019Environmental Sustainability CouncilRegular Meeting
October 17, 2019Human Services Advisory CouncilRegular Meeting
October 17, 2019General publicRegular Meeting of Environmental Sustainability Council
December 2, 2019Planning CommissionWork Session
January 6, 2020*City CouncilWork Session
February 3, 2020*Planning CommissionAction
February 10, 2020*City CouncilAction