The Virginia ballot this November 6th, 2018, includes a constitutional amendment related to flooding and wetlands. There are arguments pro and con and the actual effects the amendment may have in the future are not entirely foreseeable. We present here some of the viewpoints we are aware of. Be informed before you vote!
Unofficial opinion - Fairfax County Restoration Project:
This apparently is an effort to encourage development in floodplains by granting tax breaks for those who want to provide mitigation. I just got off the phone with one of my retired Stormwater Planning Leadership Team members at FCRP and he says it’s a really bad idea. Floodplains provide a service to us by allowing the water a place to go and it has its own eco-system. Giving incentives will only encourage development in these areas when in truth it serves a purpose that is valuable to the rest of us. Filling it in and adding more structure will only cause issues in another location downstream for some other unsuspecting landowner. Inevitably engineered stormwater facilities will compromise any trees and interrupt the natural function that floodplains provide. Meanwhile, the taxpayer suffers from having to bear the burden of paying more to allow it. But the developers are looking for ways to get around the rules and this would give them the mechanism to do that at the expense of other taxpayers.
- Amy Gould, Fairfax County Restoration Project
Unofficial opinion - Chesapeake Bay Foundation:
My initial reaction to this proposed amendment was negative, due to the potential it has for reducing tax revenues to localities when they are already starved for funds for doing the things we would like them to do. However, on further thought, I focus on the proposed amendment’s grant to localities of the discretion on adopting such a tax credit program. That should mean that localities – closest to the flooding problems and also in need of cash – will have an incentive to make sure that any ordinance changes to implement this constitutional provision actually provides a benefit to the localities (and the landowner) commensurate with the reduction in taxes. And, as we all know, localities need all the tools they can get to address the recurrent flooding we are, and will be seeing. It will also provide an opportunity for folks on the conservation side to urge green infrastructural solutions. So, on balance, I am very comfortable with this proposed amendment.
- Peggy Sanner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation