Consensus Forming on Anti-Sprawl Laws?

Excerpt from an article printed in “The Virginian-Pilot” on September 11, 2006:

“Land-use legislation that sailed through the Assembly last winter played an important role in drumming up support for controlled growth. The law requires a Virginia Department of Transportation impact statement when localities make land-use decisions affecting roads.

When VDOT issued its first such report, the forecast stopped the Loudoun County debate dead. Predictions of three-county gridlock spurred a 5-4 vote that could ultimately half a prospective 37,000 new homes….

Serious legislators in both parties recognize that government will never get a handle on transportation spending so long as local governments can approve growth willy-nilly, while passing to the state the tab for maintaining a huge network of roads.

One plan under consideration would require suburban counties to maintain portions of their own ever-expanding network of roads. That job currently falls to the state under laws written when Virginia was a rural domain three-quarters of a century ago.

As tentatively outlined by Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, a former mayor who understands land-use issues, counties would get a road maintenance allowance from the state, much as cities do today. They might also share in the presumed savings if the locality – rather than VDOT – oversaw the work. Impact fees on development in more rural areas of such counties might steer growth toward density.

The plan is far from official, but the fact that once radical notions are even talked about says how far the pendulum has swung.”


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