plaNorfolk 2030 - Norfolk, Virginia

In 2013, Norfolk, Virginia updated its general plan by adopting plaNorfolk 2030. Among other items, plaNorfolk 2030 accounts for the city’s increased awareness of environmental vulnerabilities caused by sea-level rise, in conjunction with soil subsidence, and how flooding risks can be mitigated through land use planning. The plan informed the Norfolk 2100 plan, adopted in 2016, and the city’s updated zoning ordinance in 2018, which aims to enhance floodplain and coastal resiliency and incentive development in upland areas.

Norfolk encompasses approximately 53 square miles of land and 13 square miles of water. The 2013 update to the 1992 general plan had to account for a lot of changes, including increased population, neighborhood character, and climate and environmental hazard impacts that occurred in the intervening 20-year period. PlaNorfolk 2030 includes 30 goals organized according to: Land use, Neighborhoods, Transportation, Economic vitality, Environmental sustainability, Housing choices, Lifelong learning, Community services, Daily life, Heritage, Regional cooperation, and Implementation. Each goal has outcomes assigned to it, and then actions for each outcome, to further attainment of that goal.

The Plan offers many strategies to help the City with rising sea-levels and other climate impacts.  Adaptation actions in the Plan include:

  • Evaluate the potential impact of sea-level rise when reviewing development proposals and future changes to development regulations (Land Use Goal 1.2.8, Environmental Sustainability Goal 2.1.3)
  • Ensure that development is resilient by updating zoning regulations to strengthen stormwater management requirements and mitigate the impact of flooding (Land Use Goal 1.2.9)
  • Evaluate the potential impacts of sea-level rise when reviewing development proposals and budgets (Environmental Sustainability Goal 2.1.1)
  • Promote growth in the least flood-prone areas and determine flood risk using information about emerging hazards such as sea-level rise and land subsidence (Environmental Sustainability Goal 2.1.2)
  • Continue to implement wetland design changes, such as the use of living shorelines that allow for landward migration of wetlands for resilience to future sea-level rise (Environmental Sustainability Goal 2.1.7)
  • When evaluating potential sites for location or relocation of a city facility, consider vulnerability to flooding and other resilience factors (Community Services Goal 1.1.2)
  • Incorporate resilience into design and location processes for public buildings and spaces (Community Services Goal 1.1.4)
  • Continue to implement cost-effective capital improvements that add resilience by improving stormwater management and controlling flooding (Community Services Goal 3.4.5)
  • Developing innovating approaches for adapting historic neighborhoods to sea-level rise (Heritage Goal 2.1.1)
  • Coordinate with regional partners and programs working on issues related to sea-level rise (Regional Cooperation Goal 3.1.3)

PlaNorfolk 2030 is tracked and reviewed biannually and revised as needed. In Virginia, a general plan is a required policymaking document that guides a local government’s future physical, social, and economic development around a long-range vision. The process to update Norfolk’s general plan began in 2008 and concluded in 2013 with plaNorfolk 2030.


Publication Date: March 26, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • City of Norfolk, Virginia

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  • Plans (other)

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