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Commonwealth's Counties

More Favorable Bus Stop Bill Passes General Assembly

HB 285 (McQuinn), as introduced, provided for the exemption of plans and specifications for bus shelters that do not exceed 256 square feet that are to be constructed for transit agencies receiving state money and that will be constructed on state-owned property from the Department of General Services’ review process required by the Uniform Statewide Building Code. The bill authorized the local building official of the locality in which the state-owned property is located to conduct the review process within 60 days of the applicant’s initial submission. The proponents of the bill explained the purpose of the bill was to streamline the permitting process by moving it from a state to local government function.

In the last week of session, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee significantly amended the bill to provide that the locality in which the state-owned property is located for which such a permit is issued, shall be solely and permanently liable for the granting of such a permit, any liabilities that arise from work performed under the authority of such a permit, and from the operation of the permitted activity.

Although the articulated purpose of the original bill was to provide a faster process by having the locality step into the shoes of the state for purposes of the permitting, the broad language of the bill put all the risk on the locality.  The substitute caused several concerns for VACo including possible waiver of sovereign immunity.  VACo worked with the patron and other stakeholders in the last days of the session to advocate for localities and to help craft more favorable language.

Currently, HB 285 states that the enforcement of the Uniform Statewide Building Code for bus shelters to be constructed for transit agencies receiving state funds from the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund and that do not exceed 256 square feet, shall be delegated to the local building official in lieu of the Department of General Services and also includes language that the state shall not be liable for any bus shelter built on state-owned property under this subsection.  These new provisions expire on July 1, 2025.

VACo would like to thank Delegate McQuinn for hearing our concerns and offering to amend the bill.  The Conference report was agreed to unanimously by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor.

VACo Contact: James Hutzler


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