Almost two weeks ago, Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) sent a letter to Gov. Tim Kaine (D) requesting that he authorize a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) traffic analysis of the proposed Greenvest development project along Route 50.
The Greenvest application is a $1.3 billion project that would rezone 4,200 acres in four parcels both north and south of Route 50. In addition to residential development, the plan would include the development of schools, including a new George Mason University campus. While Greenvest estimates the number of new houses in the development to be 15,000, others, including Marshall, said the number is around 28,000.
"If you think about it, 28,000 houses is probably an entire delegate district," Marshall said. "If you think about all the people that will probably be, 72,000 people. That is just huge."
Marshall said that while it is important that localities have the authority to control development the state should be involved in projects of this size.
"This is just too huge a project to strap on us without the state's input," he said. "We need to have this looked at by the state of Virginia."
IN HIS LETTER, Marshall said that Kaine had the authority to request the study under new legislation that was passed by the General Assembly this year. The legislation in question was sponsored by Del. Jeffrey Frederick (R-52) as a way to support growth control.
"While we absolutely need more funding for transportation from the state, we also need to control development," Frederick said. "The problem is lack of planning prior to new homes going up. Where are you going to put these cars?"
House Bill 1513 states that "prior to adoption of any comprehensive plan or amendment the locality shall submit such plan or amendment to the Department of Transportation for review and comment." In addition, it states that the "application shall include a traffic impact statement if required by the locality by ordinance."
The bill was the only legislation that Frederick put in this year because, he said, development control and transportation are on the forefront of people's minds.
"Transportation is a huge issue in my district," he said, "but it is also becoming important in other areas of the state."
While Frederick said that local governments should not be facing mandates from state government, that state governments should not be facing the same thing from local governments. Virginia law gives the state no authority over the development applications.
"Virginia is unique because it is only one of five states that own their roads," Frederick said. "Because it is unique, local governments are placing mandates on the state by approving [excessive] development."
During his campaign, Kaine supported the local governments' authority over development, but was also elected with the mandate to give local governments the authority to deny development applications based on transportation concerns.
As for Marshall, he said he agrees with the localities' ability to control their own development.
"I don't have direct rezoning authority and that's fine, but I do have the persuasive authority to request that this is something VDOT look into," he said. "I just can't see doing this [development] without hearing from the state."
As of press time, Kaine had not made an official response to Marshall's letter.
"We just received the letter," Kaine's press secretary Kevin Hall said. "We have not had the opportunity to put together a response yet."
Hall said that an official response could be expected later in the week.