28 May 2014 Sully District Council Meeting Minutes
by Priscilla Knight, Secretary
Al Francese, Little Rocky Run
Lewis Grimm, 2nd Vice President, Franklin Farms
Michael Hanson, Armfield Farm HOA
Jay Johnston, Treasurer, Virginia Run
Jim Neighbors, Sully Station I
Priscilla Knight, Secretary, Sully Station II
Mark McConn, President, Bull Run
Jeff Parnes, 1st Vice President, Chantilly Highlands
Stan Settle, Timber Ridge
John Thillmann, Oakwood Estates at Manderley
Rick Vaughan, Dartmoor Woods HOA
State Sen. George Barker
State Sen. Janet Howell
State Sen. Dave Marsden
Delegate David Bulova
Delegate Tim Hugo
Delegate Tom Rust
Meaghan Keefer, Sully government
John Litzenberger, Sully Planning Commissioner
Mike Congleton, VIKA
Joe Svatos, Akridge
Lori Greenlief, McGuire Woods
Felice Bryanta, Gorore/Slade?
Rick DiBella, EPH
Mike Collins, Gerry Connolly’s office
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Council President Mark McConn at 7:00 PM.
Refer to the May agenda for meeting announcements.
MEMBERSHIP PRESENTATION: REPORT FROM RICHMOND
Virginia Delegate Tim Hugo, Delegate Dave Bulova, State Senator Dave Marsden, Senator George Barker, Delegate Tom Rust, and Sen. Janet Howell spoke to council members about what happened in Richmond during the 2014 session.
Delegate Tim Hugo (R)
Delegate Hugo said he worked to stop human trafficking during the General Assembly because Northern Virginia is a hub of the crime. Bills passed made the fines and punishments much stricter.
The General Assembly addressed mental health. Hugo noted that the Angel Fund set up at Virginia’s colleges is helping students with mental health concerns and illnesses.
Hugo said VDOT is going to begin prioritizing traffic/transportation congestion mitigation, due to a bill introduced by Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R).
The Assembly worked on Standard of Learning (SOL)reforms.
Medicaid expansion is still a hot issue, but 99 percent of the budget is ready for voting. Hugo said he supports voting on the budget as is.
Delegate Dave Bulova (D)
Delegate Bulova said the cold winter put VDOT in the hole financially by about $3 M because of potholes.
Bulova said he was appointed to the subcommittee that addressed SOL reform. The bill changed SOL testing in the primary grades. The House put together a commission to review high school SOLs.
Ethics reform – Bulova said he supports transparency of gift giving to candidates and elected officials. Candidates will now have to report gifts before elections instead of after. This will help transparency.
A bill that Dave Marsden, Tim Hugo and Dave Bulova submitted requires businesses to NOT use information on driver license bar codes. The bill passed.
The General Assembly passed a bill to allow Dominion Virginia Power to bury feeder lines underground to improve reliability. DVP believes outages will drop in half.
Senator Dave Marsden (D)
Senator Marsden said he helped to pass a bill to make getting into the beer-making business easier.
Football Concussions – Marsden said he asked schools to look at concussions and head injuries caused by practicing and playing football. The bill reduces head hitting.
Marsden said he has been working on the juvenile justice system for years. Since 1994, the number of juvenile inmates has gone down. Marsden supports getting all juveniles – except for the most dangerous -- back home and on the right track.
Medicaid – Marden said Virginia has voted against many social reforms: slavery emancipation, social security, interracial marriage, voting-rights act, etc. “When we get on the right side of history we’ll create a level playing field.” Therefore, he said he supports accepting Medicaid funds from the federal government.
Senator George Barker (D)
Sen. Barker said he thinks the 2014 session went smoothly, other than the Medicaid funding debate. He noted that little legislation was sent from the governor’s office because of the change in governors -- Gov. McDonnell left as Gov. McAuliffe came in.
Barker said he worked with Creigh Deeds on mental health reform to make sure beds will be available in mental hospitals for people with mental illness.
SOL reform – This year local schools have the option to give the SOLs anytime from April to the end of school.
Barker said he has worked with Sen. Stanley for three years on a bill that would have employers reduce employees’ hours instead of laying them off when there is not enough full-time work.
Delegate Tom Rust (R)
Delegate Rust said a lot of bills introduced would have been negative for transportation, including the Silver Line. He worked to block negative bills.
He said he and Sen. Puller worked on legislation that allows active duty military persons to vote when deployed. “It took a lot of work to get it through.”
The hybrid car bill, which he sponsored, was approved. Therefore, hybrid car drivers will not have to pay more in taxes to make up for what they are not contributing to state funds through gas taxes.
The requirement to be retested for a driver’s license was lowered to age 75.
Sen. Janet Howell (D)
Sen. Howell said that last year the General Assembly focused on transportation legislation; this year they focused on Medicaid funding. She became chairman of one committee and a subcommittee when a Democrat was elected as lieutenant governor.
She said she submitted 30 bills and 24 of them passed. One extended protection to witnesses of crimes, which gained bi-partisan support. Law enforcement supported the bill strongly.
Genetic counselors – People unqualified were practicing. Sen. Howell’s bill requires these counselors to be licensed. It gained bi-partisan support.
Cigarette Tax – Organized crime members are buying cigarettes in Virginia, where the cigarette tax is low, and selling them in New Jersey and New York for huge profits.
No-excuse voting – The bill keeps failing.
Lesbians’ rights – Howell noted that the partner who is not the biological mother of a child in a same-sex situation cannot have legal rights over the child since same-sex marriages are illegal in Virginia. She would like to change the law.
Mental Health – The Senate added $10 million more for mental health. If Virginia accepts federal contributions, millions more dollars will be available.
Medicaid – Howell said Virginia sends to the federal government almost $5 M a day in fees for health care. Therefore, accepting money from the federal government is accepting our own money. She said money would help hospitals, and provide a “tremendous” economic opportunity for development.
Questions and Answers
Question: What are you doing to improve business in Virginia?
Rust: Virginia is rated by Forbes magazine as the best state for business. The governor has funds to offer business incentives. Our K-12 education is 4th best in the nation. Our colleges are some of the best.
Barker: He agreed and said we have more job-training programs.
Hugo: Tax and business regulations need to encourage business development. The overall tax code is too complicated with too many tax deductions and exemptions, like Swiss cheese. He wants to “sunset” some of these exemptions. But he was swarmed in Richmond with lobbyists who didn’t want their exemptions to expire.
Howell: She totally agrees with Hugo about sunseting tax exemptions.
Questions and Requests Concerning Business Development
An attendee said we don’t have enough biotechnology companies in Virginia. He said two biotech companies wanted to move to Fairfax County, but they needed a facility that would handle their business. They considered moving to Southside Virginia, but since the Tobacco Fund “is such a mess” they didn’t. Right now, Fairfax County has more than 19,000 square feet of empty office space. He said, “Biotech research is the future and we can’t get these companies to come here.”
Priscilla Knight agreed and asked the representatives to help develop the Southside region and support using Tobacco Fund money for job development. \
Jeff Parnes said, “We need to build more bridges over the Potomac River to help business between Maryland and Virginia. No new bridges have been built in years.”
Rust said he supports building another bridge, but Maryland does not support a bridge “in any way.” (Someone said that position may be because more Maryland air travelers might use Dulles Airport instead of BWI.)
Historic preservation on Rt. 15 is a concern because the road will probably go to four lanes.
Parnes said Virginia should press forward on METRO'S Momentum Plan for improvements by 2040.
Question regarding HOA rule enforcement: One attendee said it’s very difficult to modify Homeowner Association documents because 66 percent of homeowners need to approve any change. He said that’s almost impossible. Covenants do not allow HOAs to fine homeowners who disregard homeowner guidelines. He said HOAs need the right to fine without problems.
Answers: Sully District Delegate Jim LeMunyon supported a bill, but the debate indicated that legislators thought the bill would give HOAs too much power. Bulova said the HOA bill worried some legislators because covenants are a contract. Under state law, if people do not abide by a contract, the HOA could foreclose on the homeowner’s house. The housing commission will review the situation.
Howell said most of the state doesn’t have HOAs. Therefore, “they don’t trust them.”
Question: Rich Vaughn asked what Virginia is doing about energy.
Answers: A bill to change natural-gas fracking remains, which allows localities to decide if they want it. The existing law remains in effect.
Hugo said he believes in “all the above” including: coal, fracking, renewables, etc. He said energy problems “could be the Achilles heel” for the Commonwealth.
Priscilla Knight said she works for NOVEC. She noted that some coal-power plants scheduled to be de-commissioned had to be brought online during the winter when polar vortexes dropped temperatures below zero. The power was needed to supply enough electricity to heat homes in the 13 states and the District of Columbia served by the PJM Regional Transmission Grid. Natural gas, used by natural-gas power plants, skyrocketed as demand increased. She said it may be difficult to supply low-cost electricity (which coal plants supply) when those plants are completely mothballed and we have another very cold winter before new natural gas plants are built. She noted that solar energy generation has increased more than 400 percent in the U.S. in recent years, but at just over 1 percent of our generation mix, it will take awhile to replace coal plants, which supply 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. She noted that many people are afraid of nuclear power, but the technology today is much better than it was 30-50 years ago and should be considered again. She said many utility experts say regulations coming from the Environmental Protection Agency on June 2 regarding carbon-dioxide reductions could cause power rates to increase across the nation. Higher power rates will hurt the poorest people the most. She said she wanted legislators to be aware of the situation.
Question: Rick Vaughn asked why our drivers’ licenses cannot be swiped onsite instead of having them photocopied and the barcodes used, perhaps inappropriately.
Question: What is happening about immigration reform?
Answers: Reform has not progressed since the economy went into a recession because fewer immigrants have come here and the federal government has not passed legislation. Bulova said we have educated children of illegals and we should help them get into Virginia State colleges with in-state tuition.
Hugo said George Mason University will have to spend millions of dollars more since Attorney General Mark Herring said illegal immigrants can pay in-state tuition. The ruling also affects Virginia residents who find it harder to be accepted in public schools. William & Mary and University of Virginia are the top schools for out-of-state students. The colleges make more money from out-of-state students. Therefore, they are accepting more of them. He said he has sympathy for the illegals, but he is concerned about educating legal residents. He said both sides make good points, but many decision-makers “are afraid” to discuss it.
Rust said the number of these illegal students is small compared to the whole population.
Barker said he finally got through a bill that requires employers to use e-Verify to make sure their employees are legal. He said it is helping businesses that were abiding by the laws, but were being undercut by employees who were hiring illegals.
Question: John Lintzenberger asked about land use. He said the number of federal contracts has decreased. “Our unemployment rate continues to go down.”
Question: Rich Vaughn asked when the technology will be ready to turn the arrow from red to green on I-66 to allow traffic that is going very slowly to use the extra lanes. The representatives said new technology will have more features to allow better use of the highways, specifically on I-66.
Hugo wants VDOT to focus on the Rt. 28 and I-66 interchange.
LAND USE AND TRANSPORTATION PRESENTATIONS
9:00 - Comprehensive Sign Plan for the Timber Ridge Residential Development
Location: Timber Ridge Residential Development west of Centreville Road North of Wall Road and East of the Extension of the Air And Space Museum Annex Parkway.
The Comprehensive Sign Plan for the Timber Ridge residential development was officially accepted by Fairfax County for processing. The plans should be scheduled for public hearing in July. If some initial feedback is provided from Staff in April, it makes sense for us to come to the Council in April. If we do not have any initial feedback, we will postpone the presentation to May.
Discovery Square – Sara Mariska, of Walsh, Colucci presented plans for monument signs at the residential section of the development off of Rt. 28, near Centreville Road. The signs will be compatible with the development. The developers will present the sign plans to County Staff in September. The signs will be lighted.
Mr. Parnes said he is concerned that there may be different signs at the other parts of the development. Ms. Mariska said they can only control signs on their land.
Mr. Grimm made a MOTION to support signs that are uniform and consistent as a template at the Discovery Square development. Mr. Johnston SECONDED the motion. The Council APPROVED the motion. (6-0)
Akridge would like to discuss their plans for their property in Westfields. They have not filed anything with the County as of yet but are intending to file within 4 to 6 weeks
Lori R. Greenlief, senior land use planner with McGuire Woods LLP, presented a plan for development between Stonecroft Boulevard, Westfields Boulevard, and Sully Road/Rt. 28. She said The Preserve will benefit the greater Centreville area.
Akridge in a development company, primarily business/mixed use. The company bought the approximate 50 acres in December 2012. The Comprehensive Plan calls for mixed use.
Mr. Joe Svatos said The Preserve will have 75 percent residential use with 900 rental units (possibly condos) and 25 percent business use, with about 3,000 square feet of office space. Most of the apartments will be one bedroom or efficiencies. The development will surround a lake. They want to have trails around the lake and tie into the regional trail system. Mr. Svatos said having mostly residential occupancy will reduce traffic. The presenters will return to the Council sometime in 2014.
Meal Tax Referendum Task Force -- Mr. Johnston reported that the group has been deciding the pros and cons of having a meal-tax referendum on the ballot this year, or any year. They will submit the pros and cons to the Board of Supervisors this summer.
There will be a meeting about the future of hard copy books vs. electronic on June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Oakton Library.
UPCOMING SULLY DISTRICT MEETINGS
The June meeting will take place on June 25th and will feature the annual State of Sully by Sully Supervisor Michael Frey
The September meeting will take place on Monday, September 22, with the League of Women Voters cosponsoring a congressional Candidates Night.