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Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board
 
chapter
Stormwater Management Regulations RENUMBERED 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 Ends 8/21/2009
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8/19/09  2:34 pm
Commenter: Shawn Callahan, Sean Horne - Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association

Proposed Stormwater Management Regulations; Soil and Water Conservation Board
 

August 19, 2009

 

Ms. Linda S. Campbell, Chair

Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board

Area I Representative

2974 Stonyman Road

Luray, VA  22835

 

Madame Chair Campbell and members of the Board:

 

Please accept this letter and its comments to the proposed storm water management regulations on behalf of the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association (RRHBA), which is a non-profit, professional trade association for the local home building industry in Southwest Virginia. We are affiliated with the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and we represent a membership of 400 local member firms which are directly related to providing area homes.

We recognize that you will receive numerous comments to Part II, 4 VAC 50-60, et seq. We hope that our comments offer a different perspective. Our members work hard to provide value to their clients and jobs to employees and subcontractors. We seek to serve as good stewards of our natural resources while complying with applicable laws and regulations. It is our goal to offer pragmatic comments on why Part II of the proposed Regulation is unhealthy for our industry and our Commonwealth.

 

I.          THE PROPOSED TECHNICAL STANDARDS WILL PLACE EVEN MORE PRESSURE ON HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND WILL CONTRIBUTE TO SPRAWL

           

            The homebuilding industry, without question, is suffering through the worst downturn in its history. Today, price is the motivating factor behind a consumer’s desire to purchase a home and price often is the deciding factor between purchasing a new home or a resale home. The proposed 0.28 lbs/acre/year standard, virtually doubling the current standard, does not have a sound basis in science. It is not feasible to meet the proposed regulation without using significantly more land for the SWM facilities or install manufactured systems which are cost prohibitive for residential development. The larger BMP’s, therefore, will increase the cost of development and therefore, the cost of housing.  The developer, then, has two choices: 1. purchase more land for storm water management facilities and increase the total cost of land required for a proposed community, or 2. dedicate more land on the same size parcel for storm water management, which greatly will decrease the number of lots and, therefore, increase the cost of each lot. Both methods of compliance significantly increase the cost of housing by increasing the land costs. Doing so makes new housing less competitive which, as we all have experienced, has a negative impact on the overall health of our economy. 

The new regulations will force developers to seek less expensive land for projects because more land will be required to meet the proposed standards in development. Not unexpectedly, developers and homebuyers, in their quest for less expensive land to satisfy the proposed requirements, will purchase land further and further from the more populated areas with services, including schools and utilities. Costs will increase for localities, developers and homeowners, and sprawl, with its accompanying costs, will become more of an issue as both developers and new home buyers seek more affordable options. By promoting sprawl, these proposed regulations will make it much tougher to build the town center and village style projects that characterize smart growth and are envisioned in state law.

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II.         THE PROPOSED REGULATION SHOULD BE NARROWLY TAILORED TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES DIFFERENT REGIONS CREATE FOR THE CHESAPEAKE BAY.      

 

The old adage that real estate is local is also true with storm water management.  One size does not fit all. Many of our members are avid outdoors enthusiasts. We want to be good stewards of our natural resources and support efforts grounded in science that protect the Chesapeake Bay. However, efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay need to be localized across the Commonwealth to help protect the Bay. The regulations need to be narrowly tailored in each region of the Commonwealth to create desired safeguards for the Chesapeake Bay while balancing the need for economic growth.

As homebuilders, we support reasonable storm water regulatory initiatives that are based on proven data and that improve water quality in the Commonwealth. The 0.28 standard is not grounded in science and is unduly restrictive on development. We support the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV) proposal to protect the Chesapeake Bay that was submitted to you by Barrett Hardiman of the HBAV.

We have spent a great deal of time studying the proposed regulations and the impact they will have on all industry in Virginia. We all are working hard to try to survive in the current economic downturn. We support regulations grounded in science with a pragmatic approach to the economic realities of life in the 21st century. Part II of the proposed regulations offer neither. They will make development far more difficult, expensive and in many cases, impractical and infeasible.  

 

We urge you to vote NO on Part II of the proposed storm water requirements. We respectfully request that you reconvene the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for further consideration of regulations that balance the interests of the Chesapeake Bay and water quality across the Commonwealth with the need for sustainable economic growth.

 

            We thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed stormwater management regulations (4 VAC 50-60 et seq.).

 

Sincerely,

Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association

 

Shawn Callahan                                   Sean Horne

President                                             Chairman, Governmental Affairs Committee

1626 Apperson Drive, Salem, VA  540/389-7135

CommentID: 9718