VACo Supports Bill Removing Authority of State Air Board to Overturn Local Land Use Decisions

January 20, 2022

SB 81 (Stanley) fixes a quirk in state law (dating back to 1966) that effectively gives the Air Pollution Control Board the power to override local land use decisions (for example, when a Board of Supervisors approves the location a project through the granting of a Special Use Permit). The issue with existing law is that the board can deny an air pollution permit for a project if it determines the “activity” is not suitable “to the area in which it is located,” even when the proposed air pollution controls meet or exceed both federal and state standards to control air pollutants, and regardless of whether it is compliance with all applicable local land use ordinances. The legislation removes this authority of the Board to do so when making permit decisions. The bill will likely be considered in Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources on Tuesday, January 25.

Action Required – Contact members of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee to vote “YES” on SB 81.

KEY POINTS

  • An appointed citizen board at the state level should not have the authority to override the land use decisions of local elected officials.
  • The bill does not remove the authority of the Air Pollution Control Board to make permit decisions based on all applicable state and federal laws and standards to protect and improve local air quality.

KEY CONTACTS

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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