Wetlands, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act & Riparian Rights

We are based on some of Virginia’s busiest, most-developed, and most important waters: the Chesapeake Bay, the James River and the York River and numerous tributaries, beaches, coves, sounds and other waterways.  Living on or near the water raises unique issues.  Storm events may alter the shoreline, create repair needs or expose new land or related issues.  You may have riparian rights or just a water view.

Our attorneys provide advice and representation upon a broad range of water quality and wetlands issues.  The firm’s lawyers help individuals and companies obtain and comply with delineation of wetlands and obtaining coverage under nationwide and individual wetlands permits, and provide advice with respect to wetlands and other resource banking and offsets and compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

Developing or redeveloping property, construction and environmental issues are intensified by the impacts of waterfront property.  Issues arise with neighbors, view-lines, watersheds and drainage or even a question of what vegetation may be cut or removed, may need sound legal advice.  We seek to provide quality legal information and practical guidance to help avoid or resolve such issues.   PWHD attorneys can assist you in the areas of admiralty and maritime law, riparian rights and property disputes.  There are many overlapping interests from the State, the Federal government, local governments, community and homeowner associations, private landowners and the general public’s right-of-access and navigation.  These are the issues we can help you address.  We represent real estate developers, corporations, individual property owners, community associations, vessel owners, marina operators, boat-builders and operating watermen.

What are riparian rights?

Piers, Waterfront and Riparian Rights

A waterfront property owner does not own the water, and usually does not own the land under the water, or even the land below the tide-line, but does have a right of access to and use of the water.  The bundle of rights relating to accessing the water, use of the water and the shoreline is known as Riparian Rights.  Such rights, however, can be encroached upon by a neighbor’s pier, or a community or homeowners association or otherwise impeded.  More and more the government may need to regulate use of the State’s Waters.  These situations can create great conflict and have severe impact on the economic and personal interests of property owners.

Areas of Practice

  • Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas
  • Resource Protection Areas
  • Resource Management Areas
  • Endangered species and habitat protection area permit and development issues
  • Tree and vegetation protection ordinances
  • Conservation easements
  • Commercial and residential pier permits
  • Commercial or residential construction requiring wetlands permits
  • Watershed impacts and changes in downstream water flow from upstream developments

The following attorneys provide services to clients with needs in these areas:

Steven A. Meade, Esq. (757) 223-4554 [email protected]
Scott L. Reichle, Esq. (757) 223-4536 [email protected]
Jason E. Messersmith, Esq. (757) 223-4548 [email protected]


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Office Location

12350 Jefferson Avenue
Suite 300
Newport News, VA 23602

Local: (757) 223-4500
Toll-Free: (800) 459-1881