Richard Costello, AES Consulting Engineers
Proposed Virginia Stormwater Regulations
PROPOSED VIRGINIA STORMWATER REGULATIONS
I am writing on behalf of myself and the firm I am President of; AES Consulting Engineers. We are a Planning, Engineering and Survey firm of over 100 people in 4 offices and do development work in eastern and central Virginia.
While statewide Ches Bay regulations are definitely needed, the proposed regulations are over-reaching and unfairly solely focused on the development community. Cleaning up the Bay is a Statewide concern and the three areas; farmers, treatment plants and development should all contribute to the solution rather than placing the majority of the responsibility on the development industry.
Specific concerns that I see include:
The cost of these regulations for housing are significant being somewhere between $10,000 to $50,000 per unit (bmp/lid costs, borrowing costs, permitting fees, profits on construction and real estate commissions) depending what study you look at. What is clear is, the more dense the project is, the more bmp/lid cost per unit there is, thereby working against the town center and village style projects that characterize smart growth and are envisioned in state law. Since land is generally less expensive than these bmp/lid facilities, larger lots with less percentage impervious coverage are less expensive to build thus these regulations will promote suburban sprawl.
These regulations when applied to commercial development will promote sprawl as it is much more cost effective to commercially develop greenfields rather than do any type of redevelopment. Greenfield development is what the commercial industry is most comfortable with and these regulations will do nothing to alter that.
A significant number of the technical solutions proposed to be widely used by these regulations are unproven. The result of using these will be construction of facilities that do not work as designed resulting in additional monies and energy involved in litigation, corrective actions and further unfulfilled promises of “fixing the Chesapeake Bay problem.”
Allocating less of the fiscal responsibility to developers will reduce the needed bmp/lid facilities, and in doing so adjust the costs so that land is more expensive than bmp/lids. This will solve the issue of these regulations directly promoting sprawl.
These development regulations come at a very bad time for the home building industry. Recent Kaine administration 2009 revenue projections show a $1.5 billion shortfall. The information indicates that over 50% of the shortfall is due to the decimated housing industry. It is clear as housing goes, so does Virginia. It should be clear that these regulations will not only hurt Virginia’s tax revenues, but will put the State’s recovery at least 2 years behind other nearby states. This will negatively affect our State’s ability to compete in the marketplace and endanger Virginia’s reputation as one of the best places in America to do business.
Please modify these regulations so they are equitable to the development industry and so they do not negatively impact our State’s reputation as “business friendly.”