Model Regulations and Legal Issues

Model Regulations

NOTE: The following is a brief language model designed for municipalities as an example and illustration of the potential regulatory document. It is not a state or town regulation and does not substitute one. The structure of this document and three models presented here are examples that can be developed into full regulation model. Upland Review Areas are specific for Connecticut only and presented document illustrates their relationship with riparian buffer corridors.

Examples of Basic, Specific Area and Variable Area Models are possibilities that should be considered in potential regulatory document. The language presented here should/can be modified according to specific localities (i.e. townships, municipalities, etc.) and their environmental and economic conditions.

Examples of full regulatory documents that can be considered in drafting the final document are:

Additional References

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Research articles are available through the Science page:

Research on Legal Issues and Policy Recommendations

Long Island Sound

Connecticut Nonpoint Source Management Program Reports (2003-2009)

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) Nonpoint Source (NPs) Program works to abate known water quality impairments and prevent significant threats to water quality from nonpoint source pollution. A significant strength of the program is its networked approach to nonpoint source management. CT DEEP has formed partnerships with a wide range of public agencies, industry organizations, and private (citizens) groups to implement nonpoint source management. Connecticut’s NPs Program is well-balanced, with an appropriate mix of statewide programs and geographically targeted watershed projects.

Long Island Sound Coastal Management Policies

Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program

The Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program policies presented in this chapter consider the economic, environmental, and cultural characteristics of the Long Island Sound coastal region. They take the place of the statewide policies of the New York State Coastal Management Program. The policies are comprehensive and reflect existing state laws and authorities. They represent a balance between economic development and preservation that will permit beneficial use of and prevent adverse effects on the Sound’s coastal resources. The policies are the basis for federal and state consistency determinations for activities affecting the Long Island Sound coastal area. They are also a guide for development of new Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs and revisions to approved Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs.

United States – General

Buffer Model Ordinance

Center for Watershed Protection

This ordinance focuses primarily on stream buffers.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)


CREP is a federal-state natural resource conservation program targeted to address state and nationally significant agricultural related environmental problems.

Model Ordinances to Protect Local Resources – Aquatic Buffers


This is a sample riparian buffer ordinances with ten sections. There are two sections that are very useful: Section VI : Design Standards for Forest Buffers, and Section VII: Buffer Management and Maintenance.

United States – Other States

Watercourse and Riparian Habitat Protection and Mitigation Requirements


Title 16, Chapter 16.30, of the Pima County Code: “Watercourse and Riparian Habitat Protection and Mitigation Requirements” was adopted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on July 19, 1994. Chapter 16.54 was adopted for the purpose of enhancing wildlife values by preserving riparian vegetation along watercourses and floodplains.

Protecting Stream and River Corridors-Creating Effective Local Riparian Buffer Ordinances


By Seth J. Wenger and Laurie Fowler. (See in particular the Model Riparian Buffer Ordinance in page 59.) This is a sample riparian buffer ordinance, using a fixed width, written as an amendment to an existing zoning ordinance. It creates a new buffer overlay zone along all perennial and intermittent streams. Local governments that have not adopted a zoning ordinance may use a stand-alone version, available from the University of Georgia Institute of Ecology Office of Public Service and Outreach. A variable-width buffer ordinance is also available. Call 706-542-3948 or email [email protected] for further information.

Stream Buffer Ordinances

Georgia – Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan

Stream buffer ordinances that protect riparian zones are considered essential tools for ensuring the survival of many aquatic organisms. While some jurisdictions participating in the Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan already have adequate buffer protections in place, many do not. The model stream buffer ordinance of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, which many jurisdictions participating in the Etowah HCP must adopt in some form, provides a reasonable basis for local stream buffer regulations.

Model Riparian Buffer Ordinance

Georgia – University of Georgia

This is a sample riparian buffer ordinance written as an amendment to an existing zoning ordinance. This ordinance complies with the state minimum standards for river corridor protection as well as the minimum standards for water supply watershed protection that relate to riparian buffers. Some local governments may also be subject to additional requirements for water supply watershed protection. Language that is optional or variable is indicated by brackets and/or parentheses.

Stream Buffer Model Ordinance

New Jersey – 10 Towns Great Swamp Watershed Committee

This model ordinance has been prepared by the 10 Towns Great Swamp Watershed Committee as a prototype for adoption by its municipal government members. It is a sample of a riparian buffer ordinance.

Riparian Buffer Conservation Zone Model Ordinance (Mar 2005)

New Jersey – Department of Environmental Protection

The purpose of this Ordinance is to designate Riparian Buffer Conservation Zones, and to provide for land use regulation there in order to protect the streams, lakes, and other surface water bodies of municipality; to protect the water quality of watercourses, reservoirs, lakes, and other significant water resources within municipality; to protect the riparian and aquatic ecosystems of municipality; to provide for the environmentally sound use of the land resources of municipality, and to complement existing state, regional, county, and municipal stream corridor protection and management regulations and initiatives.

New Jersey Nonpoint Source and Stormwater Management Program Plan (Dec 2000)

New Jersey – Department of Environmental Protection

This updated nonpoint source plan for New Jersey provides a detailed description of how the NJDEP, in concert with our partners and an informed public, will implement nonpoint source and stormwater management control strategies to continue this progress in maintaining and improving New Jersey’s water quality.

Model Stream Corridor Protection Ordinance and the Basis and Background

New Jersey – Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

In 1995 the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association began working on a model stream corridor ordinance under the Watershed Management Project. The Watershed developed a boilerplate document which could be introduced to all of the 26 municipalities within the watershed, and modified according to each township’s specific needs.

Ordinance Amendment OA-99-07


Tillamook County has proposed Ordinance Amendment OA-99-07 (Periodic Review Task 10: Riparian Overlay Zone): to amend the Tillamook County Comprehensive Plan to include new and/or revised inventory, analysis, findings and policies relating to water bodies and riparian areas, and to amend the Tillamook County Land Use Ordinance with a proposed Section 4.085 (Riparian Overlay Zone).

Virginia General Assembly


The 1998 Virginia General Assembly passed legislation introduced by the governor that allows local governments to provide additional protection to their waters without incurring out-of-pocket expenses. Localities can now grant tax incentives to encourage landowners to protect wetlands, riparian buffers and to develop erosion control structures, all of which will have a positive impact on water quality.

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