As part of the county’s participation in the NFIP, the county’s Floodplain Ordinance must regulate all development in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), and all development must be permitted. Additionally, the county’s Floodplain Ordinance regulates some types of development adjacent to the SFHA.
For the purpose of floodplain management, “development” is defined as any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including buildings or other structures, as well as mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations, and storage of equipment or materials. This definition is very broad and means that very minor activities like typical landscaping, such as adding mulch to flowerbeds, installing a mailbox, or even painting a structure are considered “development” that must be permitted.
The permit requirements outlined on this page are based on the Floodplain Ordinance only. Other permit requirements through the Planning Department, Building Inspections, Public Works, or others may apply.
Floodplain Development Permits
A Floodplain Development Permit is required for all development in and adjacent to the SFHA, as outlined in Chapter 10, Article 1 of the Henrico County Code. In order to ease the burden on country residents, while also maintaining compliance with the NFIP, some minor development activities may be permitted through a General Permit. Minor development activities that qualify for the General Permit are identified on the permit form. All other development activities must receive an individual Floodplain Development Permit.
A variance is a grant of relief from any requirement of the Floodplain Ordinance. Variances are typically reserved for situations when meeting the ordinance requirements would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the subject property. Variances may also be issued for a functionally dependent use or repair or rehabilitation of a historic structure. There are two types of variances for floodplain development: a County Engineer Variance and an Administrative Variance.
Application Submittal Process
Applications for Individual Permits and Floodplain Variances must be submitted through the Department of Public Works. Applications may be submitted in-person or via email. If submitted in person, applications must be dropped off at the Department of Public Works’ Reception Desk on the 3rd floor of the Henrico County Administration Annex Building, located at 4305 East Parham Road. If submitted via email, applications must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although Henrico County is transitioning to online permit submittals through Build Henrico, the Floodplain Development Permit and Floodplain Variances are not part of the initial phase. Until the Floodplain Development Permit and Floodplain Variances are integrated into the Build Henrico system, applications must be submitted directly to the Department of Public Works for review; any documents submitted through the Build Henrico platform will not be accepted.
A pre-application meeting may be requested with the Floodplain Administrator or Floodplain Permit Reviewer to discuss the proposed development, ordinance requirements, and the application procedures that will apply to that project. While pre-application meetings are not mandatory, they are strongly recommended. Discussions or guidance offered by the Floodplain Administrator or Floodplain Permit Reviewer during a pre-application meeting do not constitute a commitment to approve or deny an application.