Waiting for Richmond

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, October 16, 2021.

Here are excerpts of an LTE published in the Sun Gazette by community activist Suzanne Sundburg.


During the annual CivFed debate, County Board member Takis Karantonis claimed that County Board is “waiting for Richmond” to grant additional “jurisdiction” to improve environmental conditions in Arlington.

Yet there are laws on the books to do this that Arlington simply ignores. For example:

• Virginia Code § 62.1-44.15:33 provides for a waiver authorizing Arlington to enact stormwater-management ordinances more stringent than the State Water Control Board to correct “excessive localized flooding within the watershed.” Why Arlington refuses to apply for such a waiver is unknown.

• Another option is to charge a stormwater-utility fee—like Alexandria and Falls Church– based on the percentage of water-shedding/heat-trapping impervious surfaces. Whereas Arlington has studied imposing a similar fee, it remains untapped.

• Virginia Code § 15.2-961.1 enables jurisdictions (like Arlington), located in Virginia Planning District 8 and classified as part of an eight-hour non-attainment area for ozone, to enact local tree ordinances that emphasize tree preservation over tree planting when meeting tree-canopy requirements.

• Virginia Code § 58.1-3231 and § 58.1-3230 permit localities to adopt a “use-value assessment” program that allows them to provide tax relief to large private-property owners who leave their land undeveloped. If Arlington had–like neighboring jurisdictions–adopted this program, the owners of the Rouse estate might not have pursued redevelopment over preservation.

Rather than “waiting” for Richmond, County Board should be acting to preserve its environment. The real question is why it doesn’t.

Sources: [1] https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title62.1/chapter3.1/section62.1-44.15:33/

[2] https://www.alexandriava.gov/tes/stormwater/info/default.aspx?id=93591

[3] https://fallschurch-va.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1076&meta_id=86053

[4] https://arlingtonva.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2020/06/Stormwater-Utility-Feasibility-Study-Interim-Deliverable-052220.pdf

[5] https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter9/section15.2-961.1/

[6] https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title58.1/chapter32/section58.1-3231/ 



[7] https://aaec.vt.edu/extension/use-value/map.html