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Commonwealth's Counties

Major threat to local land use authority defeated

SB 1761 (Sturtevant), which presented a dangerous threat to local land use authority, was defeated by a unanimous vote on January 24 in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

SB 1761 sought to require that an application for a new solid waste management facility permit or for an expansion of or an increase of capacity at an existing landfill include a certification from the governing body for each locality within a five-mile radius of the facility, other than the locality in which the facility is or will be located unless as otherwise required, granting approval of the facility.  In more practical terms, SB 1761 would give one county the authority to veto a specific land use within another county’s jurisdiction.

As was echoed numerous times during the Committee’s deliberations, there is no other instance or example in the Commonwealth in which one locality effectively was given veto authority over another locality’s plans.  This bill would have set a drastic new precedent in land use law that would directly conflict with current zoning authority as stipulated in § 15.2-2281 of the Code of Virginia, which states, “[f]or the purposes of zoning, the governing body of a county shall have jurisdiction over all unincorporated territory in the county . . . .”

VACo’s long standing policy regarding local land use supports maintaining local authority to plan and regulate land use and opposes any efforts to weaken these key responsibilities.  As such, VACo spoke in opposition.

SB 1761 was passed by indefinitely by a 14-0 vote.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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