Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board
Stormwater Management Regulations AS 9 VAC 25-870 [4 VAC 50 ‑ 60]
Action Amend Parts I, II, and III of the Virginia Stormwater Management Program Permit Regulations to address water quality and quantity and local stormwater management program criteria.
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 8/21/2009
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8/14/09  10:34 am
Commenter: Tyler Craddock, Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Stormwater Comments

Dear Madame Chair and Members of the Board,

Please accept these comments from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce regarding the proposed new Parts I, II, III and XIII of the Stormwater Regulations. On behalf of our members and our staff, I would like to express our thanks for the opportunity to comment on this proposal.

The Chamber wants to be a partner with the Commonwealth in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, one of our most cherished natural resources. These proposed regulations, however, are not the way to accomplish that goal. To begin with, these regulations create rules that will needlessly encourage sprawl by favoring low instead of high density development, thereby creating greater rather than less strain on the Bay watershed and increasing the burden on our already cash-strapped transportation system.

Families in Virginia will continue to need affordable housing, and businesses and industry will continue to need space to expand. As written, however, these proposed rules will reduce the yield of each parcel being developed by requiring additional stormwater features. Thus, it will take more land overall to meet current market demands. By definition, that is sprawl, and by its very nature, that will mean less forested open space and more developed acreage across the Commonwealth, a dynamic that may actually place more strain on the Bay. In addition, greater sprawl means higher transportation costs at a time when Virginia is challenged in its ability to fund existing transportation needs.

In passing House Bill 3202 in 2007, the General Assembly and the Governor were quite clear in their desire for more compact development patterns, especially in the context of transportation planning, as evidenced by their inclusion of requirements that most localities implement Urban Development Areas (UDAs) to help accommodate future growth needs. Passage of this proposal would endanger a locality’s ability to grow in the compact fashion envisioned by the General Assembly and the Governor.

In addition to inducing sprawl, these proposed regulations take a remedy developed to solve Chesapeake Bay issues and apply it statewide. This is a problem in the first instance because the remedy may actually make matters worse for the Bay and promote sprawl as we have already stated. Outside of that argument, there is no defensible regulatory justification for applying that remedy outside of the Bay watershed. Clean water issues external to the Bay watershed need to be addressed on their own terms. The problems that these water systems may have are different than those confronting the Bay. It is far from clear how these proposed regulations solve problems outside the Bay watershed. Indeed, problems outside of the Bay watershed have not even been identified in a clear, quantified manner during this regulatory process. Before we can fashion a solution, we must first identify a problem. This process and the proposal that emanates forth from it have failed that most basic test.

Although these proposed regulations fail to achieve their environmental protection goals, they succeed all too well in killing jobs and threatening Virginia’s status as one of the world’s premier business locations.

For Virginia to remain competitive, it is crucial that the business community be able to develop industrial and commercial sites and nearby affordable housing choices in a manner that does not impose additional unnecessary, burdensome regulation and taxation. In this way, we can continue to provide high paying jobs for Virginia families and make sure that those employees have homes to go to at night. It cannot be overstated that developing these sites in an efficient, cost-effective manner is a major factor in our ability to compete in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, the proposal before you could hinder these efforts by increasing the cost of developing needed commercial, industrial and residential sites across Virginia.

As you may know, CNBC recently rated Virginia as the best place in the nation to do business. While that is welcome news, the most important part of the story may not be the headline. Instead, the important takeaway may be below the fold in the information about which factors determine the rankings and how Virginia stacks up with regard to some of those individual factors. Virginia’s lowest rankings (26th and 27th, respectively) are for the cost of doing business, which includes things such as office and industrial floor space rental, and the cost of living, which includes the cost of housing. It is also important to note that the cost of doing business is the top factor in the CNBC ranking. Both of these factors would be adversely affected by adopting this proposal. In short, this proposal will affect our position as the best place in the nation to do business.

We would be remiss if we did not address concerns about the process itself. We have heard DCR staff and others claim that this has been one of the most open and transparent regulatory processes in Virginia’s history, particularly with regard to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). As many of the recent townhall meetings held around the country on health care reform have demonstrated, a process can be open and transparent (indeed, even televised) without coming anywhere near achieving consensus. Although the process in this instance has been civil and polite, it has failed to create general consensus on these proposed regulations and does not represent the work of all stakeholders. In fact, during the recent TAC process, stakeholders were told that the technical requirements were “off limits.” While some may think and argue otherwise, the fact of the matter is that many in the business community do not believe that their concerns about the technical standards have been adequately addressed or even addressed at all up to this point in the process. Moreover, during the Board’s September, 2008, public hearing, six of the nine TAC members who spoke asked you to hold off on Part II, which contains the technical standards. There is hardly consensus on this issue.

We recognize that this proposal contains several parts and acknowledge that our concerns are mainly with the technical standards. For that reason, we encourage the Board to resist the urge to adopt Part II, but to work with the industry and other stakeholders to iron out logistical concerns and move forward with Parts I, III and XIII, which set up the local programs and fee structure. In this way, you can begin to get the local programs in place within the framework of existing standards.

To address the concerns that have been raised about Part II, we encourage the Board and DCR to re-convene the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). This would give DCR, the Board and all stakeholders an opportunity to continue work on the technical criteria and to consider alternatives like the one offered by the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV). The HBAV proposal that has merits on several levels and deserves more consideration than it has gotten to this point.

Virginia’s consistent ranking as one of the best places to do business is in part the result of an aggressive, unapologetic pro-business approach to public policy. Adopting these proposed standards as they are currently before you would represent a stinging repudiation of the pro-business policies that have fueled our economic prosperity and a giant leap backwards for our Commonwealth. We urge you to stand firm against these proposed technical standards and in doing so stand strong for Virginia’s continued economic prosperity.


With kind regards, I am




Tyler Craddock
Director of Government Affairs
Virginia Chamber of Commerce


CommentID: 9539