Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

HJR 178 / SJR 70: Joint Subcommittee Studying Development and Land Use Tools in Virginia's Localities

September 11, 2008

The Joint Subcommittee Studying Development and Land Use Tools in Virginia's Localities held its first meeting in Richmond, Virginia. Delegate Athey was elected chair and Senator Vogel vice-chair.

The joint subcommittee is charged with examining and monitoring the transition to channeling development into Urban Development Areas, and determining if additional legislation is needed to help localities as they transition to Urban Development Areas. The resolutions also require the joint subcommittee to make a comprehensive evaluation of all existing land use planning tools and infrastructure financing options and make any recommendations deemed appropriate.

Matthew G. Bolster, Senior Policy Analyst, DHCD
Mr. Bolster described, generally, land use planning in the Commonwealth and how planning and tools available in planning relate to urban development areas. Mr. Bolster explained the statutory purpose and mandates of the statutes governing comprehensive plans. He explained that planning by localities is affected by regional and state public entities, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation, park authorities, and metropolitan planning organizations, which plan independent of localities. Also, Mr. Bolster suggested the lack of a mandate requiring localities to follow their comprehensive plans or adopt zoning ordinances to match their plans limit the effectiveness of localities' comprehensive plans. After discussing attributes of an effective comprehensive plan, Mr. Bolster discussed land use regulation and infrastructure financing, including the requirements and purposes of subdivision and zoning ordinances, proffers, bonded debt, and impact fees. Finally, Mr. Bolster explained the relevance of his earlier discussion to urban development areas.

Ted McCormack, Director, Governmental Affairs, Virginia Association of Counties
Mr. McCormack discussed Virginia counties' views towards the statute governing urban development, statutorily authorized infrastructure financing, and areas for further investigation. Mr. McCormack explained the statutory policy behind and requirements of the statute governing urban development areas. He detailed the different reactions counties have expressed towards the statute. After noting potential conflicts between the statute regulating urban development areas and state regulations, Mr. McCormack suggested that there must be incentives to developers to direct growth in urban development areas, e.g., fast development approval process for developers who develop according to prescribed densities in urban development areas. Likewise, incentives must exist for counties to direct growth in urban development areas for such areas to thrive. Mr. McCormack transitioned from the idea of financing mechanisms incenting counties to direct growth in urban development areas to the current means by which Virginia counties fund infrastructure caused by growth (e.g., real property taxes, proffers, road impact fees, bonds).

Other Comments

Lisa M. Guthrie, Executive Director, Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Chris Miller, President, Piedmont Environmental Council
Oliver A. Pollard III, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Ms. Guthrie introduced and outlined the presentations to be presented by Mr. Miller, Mr. Pollard, and Mr. Schwartz. Mr. Miller illustrated the large increase in planned growth in Northern Virginia through the use of the 1967 Regional Plan for Northern Virginia and the 1994 Northern Virginia Planning District Commission composite general land use plan. In addition, Mr. Pollard discussed legislative measures that tied together transportation and land use planning, including urban development areas, impact fees, urban transportation service districts, expanded proffer authority, mandatory clustering ordinances, etc. He suggested the General Assembly promote revitalization of cities, towns and older suburbs where infrastructure currently exists, promote investments in existing infrastructure, and provide incentives for regional cooperation. Finally, Mr. Schwartz shared case studies that demonstrate planning by Albemarle, Arlington, Fauquier, Frederick, and Loudoun Counties "for growth and efforts to design development within designated growth areas.

Next Meeting

Representatives from the Virginia Municipal League and the Home Builders Association of Virginia, who were originally scheduled to present at the meeting, will deliver presentations at the next meeting, which is scheduled for October 9, 2008.

The Hon. Clifford Athey

For information, contact:
Kevin Stokes, Jeff Sharp, DLS Staff

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

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