-August 2020 General Assembly Special Session-
PEC is asking that you contact your Delegate and request that they oppose Senate Bill 5106. This legislation would extend the sunset date for various local land use approvals (plats, rezonings, special use permits and exceptions, etc.) that were valid as of July 1, 2020 for another 2 years (until at least July 1, 2022).
This legislation is being pushed by homebuilders and commercial developers hoping to take advantage of the pandemic to get a blanket 2-year state extension on local land use approvals. This state override of local authority ignores the fact there is already a process for requesting extensions at the local level. Furthermore, we know of no local government that has failed to meet an appropriate request for an extension due to the pandemic.
In many cases, this means that a proposed development that required a rezoning five years ago, and had already been given an extension by local government, would be given a state-mandated extension to develop the land. These decisions are best made at the local level on a case-by-case basis, allowing a locality to reasonably reassess whether that rezoning and development proposal still makes sense for the community.
Where Things Stand
- The proposed extension would apply to a broad set of land use approvals that expired after July 1 of this year. This would be a retroactive extension causing unnecessary confusion for localities and applicants alike.
- Extending stale zoning (outdated and not in line with current needs) is not a solution. Proponents of this legislation are claiming it is necessary due to hardships caused by the pandemic. However, local governments continue to process land use matters. In addition, the pandemic is demonstrating a change in land use and commuting patterns that should be factored into future planning and development. We should be reimagining these sites in hopes to see better proposals occur, ones that are more reflective of the challenges we know face the commonwealth (affordable housing, access to parks, etc.).
- Most local governments have a process for extensions and continue to process applications as well as requests for extensions. In fact, we know of no request made to a jurisdiction that has failed to be granted. This legislation would extend approvals for applicants regardless of whether or not they availed themselves of the local process. Decisions on whether or not to extend these approvals are best made on a case-by-case basis at the local level.
- Local governments, in building staffing and work plans for this year and having already faced the disruptions from the pandemic, are now asked to accept the burdens of these stale projects they may have relied on sunsetting.
Please reach out to your Delegate and ask them to vote NO to this unnecessary legislation. Use our take-action letter >>
Questions? Contact Dan Holmes, PEC’s Director of State Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.