Public Comments for: HB626 - Disclosure in land use proceedings; statewide application.
Last Name: Widener Locality: Gainesville i

I support bill 626 and suggest all Delegates and Senators also support. We need transparency . No one should object if they have our best interest.

Last Name: Marusak Locality: Prince William County

HB 626 is essential and must be passed. Interest groups are currently able to influence land use decisions by Virginia counties. It is important that land use policies are not determined based upon political action committee (PAC) campaign donations. All factors in making a final decision should be weighed evenly and in the best interests of county residents. Land use decisions often impact all people living in the county. Thus, it is important for land use decisions to not be decided through campaign donations to help county supervisors in their reelection bids. That gives the impression to constituents that the system is rigged against them.

Last Name: Karp Organization: Citizens of Prince William County especially the children Locality: Haymarket

I fully support the provisions of HB626 and feel that given recent and historic circumstances in many Northern Virginia jurisdictions, and particularly Prince William County, the measure is long overdue to address real and perceived corruption in the land use process. For far to long, numerous members of the Board of Supervisors have accepted up to tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions by interested parties prior to the vote on a land use or Comprehensive Plan Application, followed by the acceptance of tens of thousands dollars more following the vote. The issue is one that is by no means partisan as both sides of the aisle are equally guilty. Chairman Stewart raised the practice to an art form in order to fund his many campaigns for higher office and the his successors have simply continued the practice, receiving similar donations from the same interested parties. The initial legislation adopted more than a decade ago was drafted in response to a bribery scandal in Loudoun County, the only differences between the offending parties then and the offending parties now is the increased scale of the contributions and the refusal of recent Commonwealth Attorneys to investigate the process. It is my understanding that an amendment has been submitted to limit the legislation to Planning District 8. Although my personal preference would be for statewide application as a matter of transparency and ethics that should be applied to all local officials, I must note that personal experience suggests the problem is greatest in several Planning District 8 jurisdictions, Similarly, it is my understanding that VACO has reacted negatively to the amendment and has lined up representatives of Planning District 8 to testify in vociferous opposition to the bill. In response, I would simply suggest that they doth protest too much. If a majority of the public views the current circumstances as potentially unethical and the optics poor at best, as is the case in Prince William County, that perception is as damaging as the reality and must be addressed. Lest you believe I am overstating the case, I have served multiple terms in elected and appointed office and been involved in local and regional land use issues in multiple jurisdictions for more than three decades. On more than one occasion, land use applicants have personally confided in me that their local counsel (counsel recommended by the Prince William County Planning staff) advised that such contributions were the coin of the realm and all but "required" to ensure the favorable disposition of their cases. Invariably, when speaking to both elected officials and land use attorneys from outside the County, the near universal perception of the land use process is, and I quote, The Wild, Wild, West. Thus I implore you, as a matter of good governance, to support HB262

Last Name: Weir Locality: Haymarket

Honorable Sub-Committee Members: It was my intent to speak in favor of HB626 tomorrow morning however, circumstances dictate that I will not be able to participate remotely at that hour. That being said, I fully support the provisions of HB626 and feel that given recent and historic circumstances in many Northern Virginia jurisdictions, and particularly Prince William County, the measure is long overdue to address real and perceived corruption in the land use process. For far to long, numerous members of the Board of Supervisors have accepted up to tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions by interested parties prior to the vote on a land use or Comprehensive Plan Application, followed by the acceptance of tens of thousands dollars more following the vote. The issue is one that is by no means partisan as both sides of the aisle are equally guilty. Chairman Stewart raised the practice to an art form in order to fund his many campaigns for higher office and the his successors have simply continued the practice, receiving similar donations from the same interested parties. The initial legislation adopted more than a decade ago was drafted in response to a bribery scandal in Loudoun County, the only differences between the offending parties then and the offending parties now is the increased scale of the contributions and the refusal of recent Commonwealth Attorneys to investigate the process. It is my understanding that an amendment has been submitted to limit the legislation to Planning District 8. Although my personal preference would be for statewide application as a matter of transparency and ethics that should be applied to all local officials, I must note that personal experience suggests the problem is greatest in several Planning District 8 jurisdictions, Similarly, it is my understanding that VACO has reacted negatively to the amendment and has lined up representatives of Planning District 8 to testify in vociferous opposition to the bill. In response, I would simply suggest that they doth protest too much. If a majority of the public views the current circumstances as potentially unethical and the optics poor at best, as is the case in Prince William County, that perception is as damaging as the reality and must be addressed. Lest you believe I am overstating the case, I have served multiple terms in elected and appointed office and been involved in local and regional land use issues in multiple jurisdictions for more than three decades. On more than one occasion, land use applicants have personally confided in me that their local counsel (counsel recommended by the Prince William County Planning staff) advised that such contributions were the coin of the realm and all but "required" to ensure the favorable disposition of their cases. Invariably, when speaking to both elected officials and land use attorneys from outside the County, the near universal perception of the land use process is, and I quote, The Wild, Wild, West. Thus I implore you, as a matter of good governance, to support HB262

Last Name: Pasanello Organization: Town of Haymarket Town Council Locality: HAYMARKET

Dear Honorable Members of the CC&T Subcommittee #2: HB 626 amends certain land use disclosure requirements applicable to officials in any county with the urban county executive form of government by broadening language to cover "business or financial interest. " This currently applies only to Loudoun County but, if adopted, will apply statewide. The Haymarket Town Council met February 7, 2022 and resolved that "the council hereby supports the provisions of HB 626 and respectfully requests Subcommittee #2 and the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns to approve HB 626. Additionally, the council hereby respectfully requests that the Virginia General Assembly vote in the affirmative and enact HB 626. Respectfully, Joe Pasanello

End of Comments