Citizens and elected decision makers in Virginia’s coastal communities are increasingly eager to find ways to address sea level rise at the local level. Flooding caused by storms and storm surges is impacting areas that have never previously experienced flooding, as well as reaching new heights. Gloucester County, working with the U.Va. Institute for Environmental Negotiation and the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, convened a special citizen advisory panel to help inform Gloucester County’s Comprehensive Plan and its approach to sea level rise.
A Focus Group was established through the County Board of Supervisors Volunteer Board Bank, which opened nominations to all citizens. The goals of the Focus Group were to: 1) provide citizens with the latest information about current and projected sea level rise in Gloucester County; 2) identify citizen concerns and issues about sea level rise; 3) prioritize these concerns and explore citizen preferences for who should assume responsibility for addressing these concerns; and lastly, 4) evaluate a range of place-based, pragmatic options for policymakers to address the impacts of sea level rise on Gloucester County. Volunteers for the Focus Group were encouraged to participate through Public Service Announcements, press releases, and through an article in the local newspaper.
Thirteen citizens were selected from those who completed the County’s open nomination process. However, due to unrelated events, three were not able to participate. Ten citizens were able to attend the Focus Group meeting. These ten citizens represented a broad range of important local interests – commercial, environmental, and social welfare – and they also brought a variety of views on climate change to the discussion. Sixty percent (6 out of 10) were shoreline property owners. Gloucester County Focus Group Discussion of Sea Level Rise Final Report