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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 2686, which would make it easier to circumvent the zoning authority of local governments. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.
April 29, 2019
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2686. This bill reduces the number of votes required for a local Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to approve a variance or reverse a zoning determination made by a locality. The practical result of House Bill 2686 would be to make it easier to circumvent the zoning authority of local governments.
The Code of Virginia authorizes any locality to enact a zoning ordinance to regulate the use of land, buildings, structures, and other premises under the locality’s jurisdiction for the general purpose of promoting the health, safety, or general welfare of the public. The General Assembly requires any locality that enacts a zoning ordinance to establish a BZA to hear and decide appeals of zoning decisions.
Under current law, a majority vote of the membership of the BZA is required to reverse a decision or determination, or to approve a variance. This legislation would make it easier for the BZA to overturn a decision of the professional local zoning administrator by lowering the required vote from a majority of the full BZA membership to a majority of those present and voting. Zoning appeals issues are involved and complex and there should be a higher threshold to reverse the decisions and determinations made by a locality.
In my recommended amendment to House Bill 2686, I proposed a compromise that would have allowed a locality to reduce, by ordinance, the number of votes required for a BZA to approve a variance or reverse a zoning determination. The General Assembly rejected the compromise amendment.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Ralph S. Northam
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