Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

scottmugMonday I enjoyed the celebration of the 60th birthday of the Falls Church Public Schools at George Mason High School with the staff, School Board members and Mayor Gardner, along with Superintendent Berlin.

A Grand 60th

scottmugMonday I enjoyed the celebration of the 60th birthday of the Falls Church Public Schools at George Mason High School with the staff, School Board members and Mayor Gardner, along with Superintendent Berlin. Two of the original leaders of the effort to create a separate school system for Falls Church,  Lou Olom and Jessie Thackeray, were also in attendance.  I presented a framed commendation from the House of Delegates.

Supt. Berlin gave service awards to school staff and teachers who had devoted up to 35 years of their lives to the children and the schools of Falls Church.  It was a grand celebration. Since the first day I represented Falls Church, I have been impressed with the comraderie, spirit and leadership of its school system and staff.

Legislative Studies

When the General Assembly is not in session, many legislators spend many hours engaged in studies of complex issues referred by the full legislature.  At least two are particularly relevant to Northern Virginia.

One is a joint House and Senate study chaired by Senator George Barker of Fairfax County.  Senate Joint Resolution 357 established to study the feasibility of creating a regional rapid transit network in Northern Virginia.

One of the issues under study is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system for our area. The committee has heard several presentation from the Secretary of Transportation, as well as representatives from local and regional agencies such as the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

The committee is scheduled to meet in September, October and November in order to complete its deliberations and make recommendations to the next session of the General Assembly in January 2010.

HJR 178/SJR 70

A second joint legislative study committee is studying development and land use tools in Virginia localities.  It grew out of a very controversial bill introduced by Chesterfield Senator John Watkins in the 2008 session of General Assembly.

The bill called for reducing local flexibility in the use of  local zoning powers to create limitations on land uses and/or requiring payment from developers to offset the costs of infrastructure necessitated by the development patterns, particularly in large and growing localities. Many in the development industry see these newer powers as excessive regulation of the use of land.  They stem from land use controversies initiated in the 1970’s,

The subcommittee has not completed its analysis, but localities fear a re-run of the controversy created by the Watkins bill.  The committee is chaired by Delegate Clifford Athey of Warren County.  No meetings of the committee have been held since July, but it appears that others sessions will be held before the 2010 session of the General Assembly.