Thursday, February 3, 2011

UDA's: Urban Development Areas; the Backstory

So what is it exactly that is giving cover the local officials in Chesterfield County regarding this new Comprehensive Plan?

Urban Development Areas. Daniel Nairn gives us a (glowing) look into their creation and evolution: (taken FromonHigh blog)

"Over the last couple of years the state government of Virginia has been rolling out a land use planning category for localities known as Urban Development Areas (UDAs), where higher density development can be concentrated. The concept started off slowly in 2007 with HB 3202 as an advisory element to be placed in the Comprehensive Plans of "high growth" localities, but UDAs have gradually been weaved into everything from stormwater regulations to street design requirements over the last year.The Development and Land Use Tools Subcommittee, known as the Athey-Vogel group, last week released a proposal for stronger UDAs and a loan fund to sweeten the pot. Considering the media has pretty much ignored this process (I can't find any story, actually), it seems like a worthwhile endeavor to pay attention to where this initiative may be going.The purpose of UDAs is not only to allow the concentration of growth in certain areas (thus relieving the pressure on others) but also to guide the design of such areas to ensure they are livable and attractive environments. The legislation explicitly calls for "new urbanism and traditional-neighborhood design," and the essential criteria are spelled out clearly: pedestrian-friendly road design, interconnection of streets, preservation of natural areas, mixed-use neighborhoods, reduction of front and side setbacks, among other things. Minimum densities are set by floor-to-area ratio for commercial and dwelling-units-per-acre for residential development.Last week's proposed changes double the density requirements for all localities"

HB 1721(Virginia General Assembly)

The following is information that Donna Holt of Campaign for Liberty provided about HB1721.

BACKGROUNDThe General Assembly convened on January 12th and we are following many pieces of legislation. HB 1721 is one that has dire consequences for us. Currently, 67 localities in Virginia are mandated to build Urban Development Areas.HB1721, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, would make Urban Development Areas optional rather than mandatory.The bill was recommended to report (passed by a majority of yea votes) by the House Counties, Cities and Towns Sub-committee #2 by a vote of 7-4 on January 20th, but was stalled on January 21st by the full committee at the request of Speaker Howell. It must pass this full committee and then go to the House Floor for a full vote. If it passes there, it then goes to the Senate on February 8th, Cross-Over Day, to begin the process there. This is going to be a long battle.

WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST This bill is being attacked by heavyweights like the Home Builders Association, Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters.Members of the Home Builders Association stand to gain a great benefit from the construction of UDAs. Not only can they build up to twelve homes on a single acre of land that they can purchase very inexpensively, but they get tax breaks for the new urbanism, green building, and green energy efficiency practices used in the construction of these high-density communities.Organizations like the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club are heavily funded by other international organizations like ICLEI and benefit greatly by defeating the bill.The reality, folks, is if we don’t get this bill passed, 67 local governments in Virginia will have no choice but to approve the comprehensive plans in EVERY locality in Virginia because UDAs are MANDATED.WHAT YOU CAN DO:WE NEED ALL HANDS ON DECK NOW if we are to be successful! We must show them who the real heavy weights are.We strongly urge you to:* Contact every member of the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee to urge them to vote in support of the bill.

* Contact Speaker Bill Howell (R) Phone: (804) 698-1028 Email: and ask him to support this bill.* Contact YOUR representatives to let them know you support this bill.* We urge citizens from EVERY locality of the Commonwealth to be representatives of their community at the next committee meeting on HB1721. We are in the fight of our lives to defend private property rights. It is up to each and every one of us to do all we can to get HB1721 passed out of this committee and on to the floor for a vote.


Anonymous said...

The committee voted 11-10 today to bring this matter to the House for consideration. The bill would give localities the option to but not be mandated is us the UDA requirement.

Anonymous said...

I learned last night of the intent to hold a public forum regarding this matter and the Chesterfield Comprehensive Plan for citizens to get the other side of the debate and I just want to say I think that that is the best thing I have heard about this is since this process started in 2009.

Will you Alter be bringing in opposing views for the County to consider during its review process as well as leaders of groups that support/oppose the plan as it stands today?

Thank you for responding.

Anonymous said...

See the previous blog post in the comment section for citizen forum query.

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