VA Supreme Court Takes Away Planning Commission Power

A recent Supreme Court of Virginia ruling has rendered Virginia planning commissions pretty much useless, Kurt Walters writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow. Kent Sinclair, an Albemarle County resident and UVA law professor, was unhappy after the Albemarle Planning Commission provided his neighbor with a critical slopes waiver that allowed a 103-foot-tall communications tower to be built on their land. Sinclair sued and, in Sinclair v. New Cingular Wireless PCS et al, the state’s highest court ruled that, under the state code, planning commissions simply do not have the power to provide waivers to violate zoning ordinances. Instead, planning commissions must simply approve or deny, then leaving it to elected bodies like the Board of Supervisors to grant (or not) waivers.

The filing deadline for legislation for the already underway 2012 General Assembly session has come and gone, so if the legislature is going to take any steps to address this, it won’t happen in 2012.

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