HB 626 (Roem) creates new and more stringent land use disclosure requirements for local government officials. These requirements apply to the governing body, the planning commission, and the board of zoning appeals in any proceeding before each such body involving an application for a special exception or variance or involving an application for amendment of a zoning ordinance map, which does not constitute the adoption of a comprehensive zoning plan, an ordinance applicable throughout the locality, or an application filed by the governing body that involves more than 10 parcels that are owned by different individuals, trusts, corporations, or other entities.
If at the time of the hearing in any such case, such member has a business or financial interest with the applicant, that member shall, prior to any hearing on the matter or at such hearing, make a full public disclosure of such a business or financial interest or employee-employer, agent-principal, or attorney-client relationship and shall be ineligible to vote or participate in any way in such case or in any hearing thereon.
Business or financial relationship is defined in the bill and includes the receipt by the member, or by any person, firm, corporation, or committee in his behalf, from the applicant in the case or from the title owner, contract purchaser, or lessee of the subject land, except, in the case of a condominium, with the title owner, contract purchaser, or lessee of 10 percent or more of the units in the condominium, or from any of the other persons above specified, during the 12-month period prior to the hearing in such case, of any gift or donation having a value of more than $100, singularly or in the aggregate.
Current law found in the State and Local Conflict of Interests Act has a broader definition of financial interest ($5,000) and allows voting after disclosure in many cases. This bill was recommended for reporting by the House General Laws Committee’s Subcommittee #3 by a vote of 6-3 and is scheduled to be heard in the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee on Friday, February 11.
ACTION REQUIRED – Please contact your Delegate on the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and urge them to oppose HB 626.
- The existing provisions of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act in state law are adequate and uniformly apply in all localities except Loudoun and Fairfax County. This bill, which currently only applies in Loudoun, is not needed statewide.
- In localities with smaller boards, there may be situations where no members can vote.
Counties, Cities and Towns Committee: Hodges (Chair), Morefield (Vice Chair), McNamara, LaRock, Wyatt, Avoli, Ballard, Cherry, Scott, P.A., Cordoza, March, Wachsmann, Mullin, Roem, Gooditis, Kory, Subramanyam, Jenkins, Williams Graves, Sewell, Bennett-Parker, Shin
VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE