The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board are each respectively in the process of examining and issuing regulations impacting the development and construction industry. The proposed VDOT regulations cover access management and relate to minor arterials, collectors, and local streets. The public comment period began September 15, 2009 and is set to end on October 14, 2009.
The Soil and Water Board’s stormwater regulations include significant amendments to stormwater management and were designed to address water quality and quantity and local stormwater management criteria. Public comment ended on August 21, 2009 resulting in 408 comments. The very significant level of commentary reflects a high degree of citizen and business interest and involvement. The comments range from general but impassioned calls to defend the environment to quite a bit of substantive critical comments from design professionals, builders, and ordinary citizens regarding the regulations and their potential resulting economic impact.
In a conversation with me today, Barrett Hardiman, Vice President/Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Home Builders Association of Virginia, encapsulates much of the flavor of the home building industry’s reaction to the proposed new stormwater regulations:
“We want a regulation that is best for both the environment and the economy. What they are proposing does not do much for the environment and does serious damage to an already fragile economy and home building industry. It does not benefit the [Chesapeake] Bay and will likely cost Virginia billions to squeeze the last bit of phosphorus out of new development.”
While the public comment period has officially ended, the Soil and Water Conservation Board has scheduled a special public hearing for further discussion of the suggested changes. That meeting will be held on Thursday, September 17 at 9:30 am. The meeting will be held at the MCV Campus Molecular Medicine Research Center, 1220 E. Broad Street, 1st Floor Multipurpose Room, Richmond, VA 23219.
Given the uncertain current status of the proposed regulations and their potential dramatic impact on the development process, proponents and opponents would both be well advised to represent their positions at these continuing meetings.