There are just a few days remaining in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session and HBAV (Home Builders Association of Virginia)  has been busy protecting our FABA Members’ business interests. We have been tracking over 140 pieces of legislation that directly or indirectly impact the residential land development and construction industry in Virginia. This week’s update includes some of the legislative highlights of the last several weeks.

  • Liability for Multi-Family Property Owners, Managers, and Operators
  • Protecting Virginia’s Code Development Process
  • Anti-Affiliated Business Arrangements Legislation Defeated
  • Inclusionary Zoning
  • Local Government – Permitting, Plan Review, and Protections for Proprietary Documents
  • Vested Rights and Nonconforming Use Legislation:
  • Tree Ordinance Legislation
  • Cluster Development Legislation

Liability for Multi-Family Property Owners, Managers, Operators:  
HB 209 would have provided that any person owning, operating, or managing a commercial property used primarily for business purposes or residential real property that is owned by a person who owns five or more dwelling units that are used primarily for rental as a dwelling unit shall have the duty to take reasonable precautions to protect the tenants, other authorized occupants, or guests or invitees of such property against injury caused by the criminal conduct of a third party, if the danger of injury by such conduct is known to such owner, operator, or manager or is reasonably foreseeable. The bill provides that the same duty applies to any private security services business contracted to provide services to such person owning, operating, or managing such property. HBAV was strongly opposed to this legislation and it did not advance this Session.

Protecting Virginia’s Code Development Process:  One of HBAV’s top legislative priorities this Session was to protect Virginia’s current code development process. There were three bills introduced this year that would have fragmented the process by which Virginia updates the USBC, the Statewide Fire Prevention Code, and other codes – and would have ultimately led to significantly more cumbersome and costly regulations.
SB 488, HB 1420, and HB 1411 would have transferred the authority for the adoption of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) from the Board of Housing and Community Development to the Virginia Fire Services Board. HBAV opposed these bills because the current code development process has been extremely effective in advancing building safety and energy efficiency improvements in Virginia’s buildings. Currently, the Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD) is responsible for reviewing and adopting the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC), the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC), and other codes. The BHCD consists of 14 citizen members with expertise and experience in building construction, energy efficiency, and fire safety, which allows for a vigorous and deliberate code evaluation process over the course of 1.5 to 2 years. SB 488 was defeated in Committee by a vote of 10 to 4 with one abstention; HB 1420 was stricken from the docket; and HB 1411 was also tabled.
HB 1476 would have directed the Board of Housing and Community Development to amend the USBC to require the installation of arc fault circuit interrupter protection for detached one-family and two-family dwellings and townhouses pursuant to the International Residential Code and in compliance with the requirements of the National Electrical Code. HBAV opposed this legislation and it did not advance.

Anti-Affiliated Business Arrangements Legislation Defeated:
HB 1028 as introduced would have prohibited a builder, seller, or any other party associated with a real estate transaction from offering, as an option, the use of any affiliated mortgage lender or broker or any other vendor in that transaction. HBAV firmly believes that affiliated business arrangements offer true value to both consumers and our builder members through better interest rates, predictable closing dates, and peace-of-mind for all parties. HBAV and several other organizations met with the patron several times to discuss our concerns with the legislation – the bill was on the docket last Thursday and the Committee voted to “carry over” the legislation, which means it will not proceed. This is a big victory for HBAV and our industry!

Inclusionary Zoning Legislation:
SB290 sought to grant all localities in the Commonwealth the authority to enact ordinances requiring applicants to set-aside a percentage of units as “affordable”, as defined by the locality. HBAV strongly believes that we need to be encouraging the production of a diversity of housing stock in all regions on the Commonwealth, but these mandatory programs have not been effective in spurring the production of these units. HBAV opposed this legislation but committed to working with the patron of this bill and other stakeholders in the upcoming months on expanding existing affordable housing incentives and developing new, practical solutions that remove the impediments to the production of affordable housing without mandating it. The patron and the proponents of the bill agreed to start those discussions after the General Assembly adjourns. SB 290 passed the Senate, but did not pass the House of Delegates.

Local Government – Permitting, Plan Review, and Protections for Proprietary Documents
SB993 prohibits a local Planning Commission from delaying the official submission of any proposed plat, site plan, or plan of development by requiring pre-submission conferences, meetings, or reviews. HBAV supported this legislation – it has now passed the House and the Senate!
HB 859 was introduced to allow localities to enter into agreements with each other to provide technical assistance with administration and enforcement of the Building Code. HBAV supported this legislation and it has successfully passed both the House and the Senate. Thanks to Delegate Chris Peace for advancing this legislation!
SB 921 was introduced to clarify that information contained in engineering and construction drawings and plans for single-family homes can be shared between a locality’s departments. This bill, as originally drafted, contained several provisions that we believed would allow any individual or entity to obtain the proprietary information contained in these construction and engineering documents. HBAV worked hard to protect these documents during previous General Assembly Session. We brought our concerns to Senator Adam Ebbin and he was able to amend the bill to maintain the protections that currently exist. The bill has passed the House and Senate and will now head to the Governor’s desk for review.
HB 164 removes the requirement that a building permit applicant’s written statement that he is not subject to licensure or certification as a contractor or subcontractor be supported by an affidavit. HBAV supported this legislation – it has been signed by the Governor and will become effective July 1, 2018.

Vested Rights and Nonconforming Use Legislation:
HB1595 and SB972 prohibit local governments from enacting expensive and overreaching mandates to require property owners to retrofit or preclude them from refreshing or maintaining landscape cover materials. HBAV supports both of these bills and they have passed the House and the Senate.
HB377 was a legislative recommendation from NVBIA and exempts from the requirement to obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit any impact to a stormwater management facility on dry land. This bill has now passed both the House and the Senate.
HB 245 would have provided that a nonconforming use may be continued so long as the use is not discontinued for more than one year and meets other conditions. Existing law provides that such use shall not be discontinued for more than two years. HBAV opposed this legislation and it did not advance.

Cluster Development Legislation:
HB 341 as originally introduced would have prohibited stormwater management facilities from being located in open space within cluster developments. Delegate Bob Thomas was very considerate of our concerns with this legislation and agreed to continue the discussion locally after the General Assembly Session- HBAV looks forward to working with FABA and Delegate Thomas on this issue in the interim. This bill was stricken from the docket and will not advance this year.

Have questions about the 2018 Session?  Contact HBAV Vice President of Government Affairs: Andrew Clark at [email protected] or (978) 460-1331

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