Kaine to Seek Legislation Giving Localities More Control of Growth
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
RICHMOND, Dec. 13 -- Virginia Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (D) said Tuesday that he would seek legislation that would give local governments more power to control growth despite the likely opposition of the powerful development and home-building industry.
In a speech to reporters, Kaine said he would make good on his campaign promise that local governments be granted the power to stop development if nearby roads are not adequate. He called that a "common sense" idea.
"I'm a lover, not a fighter, but I'm very glad to engage in that," Kaine said at a day-long conference in Richmond sponsored by the Associated Press.
His comments sparked an angry response from the state's home-building lobby and predictions of failure from the senior lawmaker in the House of Delegates.
Kaine, who ran campaign ads promoting more control of development in the state's fast-growing suburbs, said easing the state's traffic congestion will require local governments to consider the impact of development on the road and transit networks.
"It's not in the best interests of the development industry to go along, willy-nilly, for the next 15 years and have everything choked off," Kaine said.
Michael L. Toalson, the executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, said his organization is gearing up to defeat any bill proposed by Kaine or his allies in the legislature.
"What Tim is doing is just looking for quick fixes to a transportation promise he made rather than offer up a credible, long-term solution," Toalson said. "We stand solid in our opposition to that new authority to local governments. That is something we will vigorously oppose."
And House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), who also spoke to reporters at the conference, said he would "be surprised" if legislation passed the General Assembly that granted more power to local governments.
Howell said boards of supervisors and city councils already have the power to reject proposed development.
"It drives me crazy. They never say no," Howell said. "They never turn down rezoning requests because the county attorney says they'll get sued. Isn't that why we have county attorneys?"
Kaine, who took millions of dollars in campaign contributions from developers and home builders in his bid for governor, said local governments are afraid to stop growth based on traffic projections because the courts have given conflicting rulings on whether they have that authority.