Bill placing 60-day limit on Planning Commission review of rezonings gets a timeout

January 19, 2021

SB 1249 (Stuart), which mandates that any application for a rezoning, special use permit or special exception must be acted upon by a local planning commission within 60 days of official submission, was continued for a week by the Senate Local Government Committee and will be reconsidered on Monday, January 25. The Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association (VA-APA) and VACo raised concerns on how this legislation would impact the role and function of planning commissions in making recommendations on such applications. The concerns prompted the continuation of the bill by the committee.

In addition to the 60-day limit, SB 1248 includes problematic language that make it impossible for localities to implement. Specifically, one requirement states that the planning commission must approve or disapprove such applications, and that reasons for disapproval shall be communicated to the applicant in writing. Such notification shall include “… modifications, or corrections that will permit approval…” of the application. Given that such applications are approved by the local governing body and the planning commission only provides recommendations, there is no feasible way to comply with the proposed standard.

The bill also states that the “… local planning commission or other agent shall not delay the official submission …” of such applications “… by requiring presubmission conferences, meetings, or reviews.”

VACo asks members to review this legislation and provide any comments and concerns on how the proposal will affect the review of applications by county planning commissions to Joe Lerch at jlerch@vaco.org.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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