Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Looks like we need a Section 527 for Chapter 527

Yesterday's Dulles South Business Alliance monthly meeting was chock full of good information concerning the impact of the "Chapter 527" Virginia legislation (passed last year) that will be phased in for NOVA beginning July 1st. Essentially, localities will need to submit a traffic impact analysis to VDOT for comment and possible further analysis, for any developments (during CPAM, rezoning or subdivision activities) that meet particular size and impact thresholds, including probable "substantial impact to transportation on state-controlled highways". It seems to basically be a good thing, for VDOT to help localities and developers determine local and regional traffic impact, and for these same to add to VDOT's database of traffic impact metrics and trends for future impact analysis and road improvement planning.

Now, development plans and resultant or proposed traffic impact plans ought not to be created only with near-term goals in mind, but with longer-term, strategic and regional interest considered. "We can't just address yesterday's or today's problems, but we need longer term thinking in our CPAMs, like the very successful CPAM passed in 2004 regarding Countywide Health Care Facilities (which is wisely bringing much-needed healthcare to Dulles South)", said George Barker (candidate for Virginia Senate District 39, southern Fairfax/northern Prince William, and current Chair of Fairfax's Transportation Advisory Commission). However, the transportation legislation currently about to be passed in Virginia lays authority for some of the new regional taxes to be implemented at the door of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a non-elected body of appointees (with apparent veto power in the hands of the Fairfax majority) who evidently haven't demonstrated a consistent track record for producing strategic, local needs-based planning or decisions in the past (according to Barker).

So therefore, to follow this convoluted and ill-formed reasoning, we seem to be faced with the prospect of higher taxes being levied by persons we haven't elected, don't seem to engage in long-term thinking, and which (the basis on which the tax rates are formed) presumably won't match up with the intent or ultimate outcome of the longer-term VDOT traffic impact analysis and planning initiative wrapped up in Chapter 527. As Steve Snow put it, "we'll likely need to go to court on this one"...or, in some opinions, create a new Section 527 PAC to assist Chapter 527's success.

That 527 coincidence was too good to pass up.


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