Federal, State & Local Government Updates
(Last update January 11, 2023)
Additional Funding to Address Staffing Shortages and Delays at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch
Just before funding for the federal government was set to expire, Congress passed the omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law by President Biden on December 30. The $1.7 trillion package will fund the government through September 2023 and contains numerous provisions relevant to the housing industry.
The spending bill also contains includes provisions sought by Virginians for Effective and Efficient Permit Processing (VEEPP) - a coalition established by the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBA of Virginia), Virginia Association of Commercial Real Estate (VACRE), and Virginia Environmental Restoration Association (mitigation bankers) - to address growing concern over staffing shortages, budgetary constraints, and permitting delays at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Norfolk District Regulatory Branch.
Championed by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (VA) and Tim Kaine (VA), the provisions:
- Provide additional funding to the USACE Regulatory Branch specifically to address staffing shortages at the District level;
- Direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide Congress a report within 90 days on staffing shortages and permit backlogs in each of the last five years; and
- Direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide Congress a plan within 90 days for rectifying the staffing shortages.
While the delays at the Norfolk District will not be resolved overnight, the inclusion of these provisions in the federal budget bill is a significant milestone given the USACE Regulatory Branch’s budget has been virtually flat for a decade. The effort was further complicated by the upcoming shift in the political balance of power in Washington, which sparked a heated debate over spending priorities and ultimately led to a compromise in which non-defense funding increased only minimally.
As a result of Senator Warner and Senator Kaine’s efforts, this long-overlooked issue is now on lawmakers’ radar and the USACE Norfolk District (and others) receive some long-overdue funding to begin addressing chronic staffing shortages.
Click here to read more.
Virginia's Building Code Development Cycle Proceeds to the Next Phase
Earlier this year, the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development began the process of adopting Virginia’s next building code (the “2021 Code”).
Over the last several months, the HBA of Virginia has represented the housing industry at 41 code hearings, reviewed over 180 code proposals, and provided testimony and written public comment in support and opposition of the proposals that affect single- and multi-family builders’ ability to met the demand for new housing at all price points.
The Board of Housing and Community Development met on October 3rd to cast their first (but arguably, most important) vote on the proposals that have been submitted this year.
Continue reading below to learn more about what the Board voted on, including some of the proposals that they voted to “disapprove”:
- Require Virginia to adopt the full 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) –Read more about the significant changes included in the 2021 IECC
- Prohibiting natural gas in homes
- Increase wall insulation requirements to R-30 or R20+5
- Require new residential structures to use “bird friendly glass” approved by the American Bird Conservancy, which the vast majority of manufacturers either do not have available or would require a custom order with a 4-8 month lead time at a cost of approximately $1,900 per window.
- Mandatory residential fire sprinkler systems for all new one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes (Read the HBA of Virginia's public comments on this proposal)
While the final Virginia 2021 Code won’t be adopted until mid-2023 (tentative), the Board meeting (and their votes on the proposals) provided the housing industry with invaluable insight into what will be adopted into the 2021 Code and what will likely not be adopted. The Board meeting also provided assurance that common-sense improvements to the code and housing affordability will be the Board’s top priority for the 2021 Code.
Click here to read the HBA of Virginia’s update on the 2021 Code Development Cycle and the code requirements that were approved and disapproved by the Board earlier this month.
Updated DEQ Quality Regulations, Handbooks, Manuals, Design Specifications, and Other Materials
- Updated Stormwater Page: The updated page includes links to MS4, construction, and the new Industrial webpage.
- Updated Construction Stormwater Page: The updated page includes an introduction that makes the format more similar to the MS4 webpage. The introduction includes links to Virginia's construction-stormwater laws and regulations. It also includes a link to the most recently passed and signed bill from the 2022 GA session. Finally, it links to the website's Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and Nutrient Trading webpages, which affect stormwater construction.
- New Stormwater Handbooks webpage: This is a new webpage that includes downloadable files of combined and individual chapters of the 1992 E&S, 1999 SWM, and 2013 DRAFT SWM handbooks. Notably, it includes the Technical Bulletins for the 1999 SWM, which have not been publicly available for a decade (I think).
- New Stormwater Manuals webpage: This is a new webpage that provides downloadable files of the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Manual and its Information Bulletins. I believe this is the first time that these files have been available electronically. In addition, it links to VDOT's Drainage Manual and BMP Maintenance Manual.
- New Guidance & VRRM webpage: This is a new webpage that includes links to guidance memoranda and documents issued by DEQ and other agencies that affect construction SW compliance. The DEQ Guidance links to documents on Town Hall. The VRRM accordion box includes the VRRM guidance and both compliance spreadsheets. The VDH guidance links to VDH's rainwater harvesting guidelines.
- New BMP Design Specifications webpage: This is a new webpage that includes links to all post-development BMP specifications. It also includes the approval letters for proprietary BMPs. It also includes downloadable copies of the Annual Standards & Specifications documents.
- New Industrial Stormwater webpage: This is a new webpage that consolidates various webpages' industrial permit content. It also includes links to each of the SWPPP requirements.
- Updated Stormwater - MS4 webpage: The updated webpage includes links to laws and regulations providing DEQ with authority to regulate municipal stormwater.
- Updated Water Laws & Regulations webpage: The updated page provides new accordion boxes with links to updated stormwater webpages including a new Stormwater - Industrial permits webpage.
VDOT District Office Contacts
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) divides the state into nine districts, each of which oversees maintenance and construction on the state-maintained highways, bridges and tunnels in its area.
Contact information for the Richmond District by residency:
Henrico, Hanover, New Kent, Goochland, Charles City, New Kent
Residency Administrator – Marshall Winn 804-585-3566
Area Land Use Engineer – Adam Moore 804-585-3585
Chesterfield, Powhatan, Amelia
Resident Engineer – Rebecca Worley 804-674-2775
Area Land Use Engineer – Adam Wilkerson 804-674-2384
Prince George, Dinwiddie, Nottoway
Residency Administrator – Crystal Smith 804-863-4000
Area Land Use Engineer – Paul Hinson 804-863-4012
South Hill Residency
Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Lunenburg
Residency Administrator – Tommy Johnson 434-917-3611
Area Land Use Engineer – Paul Hinson 804-863-4012
Message from VDOT Regarding Rolltop Curb for Multifamily Units
VDOT is experiencing difficulty with design, construction and maintenance where multi-family units have multiple driveways within 2ft of each other accessing standard CG-6 curb. VDOT is reviewing CG-9D driveway ramps that are two, three, and four times the standard length, combining driveways, without any radii, nor transitions.
VDOT Richmond District is requesting/encouraging the use of rolltop curb for multi-family units. The use of rolltop curb with driveways touching each other won't present any of the issues VDOT is experiencing and hopefully it will present some construction economy to developers.
If developers would be willing to switch their plans from standard CG-6 curb to rolltop curb, at any point of plan review, approved or not, graded or not, VDOT will expedite the review to accept the switch.
Update on new Virginia Building Code
The Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development recently approved the final regulations for the 2018 building code development cycle.
Click here for an overview of the significant changes to the Virginia Construction Code, Virginia Existing Building Code, Virginia Maintenance Code, Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, Manufactured Housing Safety Regulations, and Virginia Certification Standards.
When do these codes become effective?
The new 2018 codes will go into effect July 1, 2021. However, 13VAC5-63-30 Section 103 of the final regulation states that upon the effective date of the 2018 code (7/1/2021), an applicant for a permit shall have one year to choose whether to comply with the provisions of the 2018 code or the provisions of the 2015 code. In short, the 2018 code does not become mandatory until July 1, 2022.
The effective date and information regarding the recently-completed 2018 code change cycle have now been published in the Virginia Register (click here to view). More information regarding the 2021 code change cycle is forthcoming.
If you have questions about the new building codes, please contact HBAV’s Vice President of Government Affairs at AClark@HBAV.com. You may also contact the State Building Codes Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 371-7150.
(Last update June 28, 2022)
Chesterfield County's Building Inspection team developed a document outlining the significant code changes effective July 1. The 2018 edition of the Virginia Construction Code will apply to all permit applications submitted on or after July 1, 2022. This is a summary of important changes adopted in the 2018 edition of the code. This is not a comprehensive list of every change. Click here to view the document.
StratIS Program - Demand Indicators Report
Chesterfield County has developed a robust data program title StratIS - Strategic Information Sharing. StratIS leverages cloud-based technology which delivers dynamic tools for trending, predictive analysis and modeling. The StratIS platform connects directly to the systems of record, ensuring accuracy of reporting. The project has established productive relationships among various departments throughout the county, including Chesterfield County Public Schools, Building Inspection, Planning, and Utilities. The system provides reporting on housing sales and the housing pipeline. Click here to view the StratIS system.
The Community Development Customer Service Center is open.
Six-foot social distancing will be maintained, and all customers must wear a mask while in the buildings in accordance with state and county requirements. Due to limited availability of masks, they are not able to provide masks so please bring your own.
Permit applications sent via mail or commercial courier will be accepted and processed.
Customer deliveries are being handled using an exterior pickup/drop off cart located in the breezeway directly outside of the Community Development Building (9800 Government Center Parkway). Instructions are provided on the door and/or cart.
The walk-thru permit process is suspended until further notice.
Utilities Customer Service Center is Open
The Chesterfield County Department of Utilities’ first-floor customer service center is open with regular business hours. Learn more about available services and health and safety guidelines.
(Last update January 11, 2023)
Goochland County is live with Energov, the county's online permitting system. Use the Energov system for:
- Online Permit & Plat Submittals
- Online Scheduling and Inspection Results
- Electronic Plan Review for Building Inspection
- Online Payment Options
Click here for more information.
(Last updated on January 11, 2023)
Amendments to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances
On December 13, 2022 the Board of Supervisors amended the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances. The new ordinances and the approved amendments (in blackline format) are available for download below:
- Chapter 19: Subdivision Ordinance
- Amendments to Chapter 19
- Chapter 24: Zoning Ordinance
- Amendments to Chapter 24
(Last updated on June 28, 2022)
Community Development Web Portal
Hanover County's Community Development Web Portal provides access to community development services, allowing individuals to search for information and complete many common tasks online. You can use the portal to:
- Apply for permits, request inspections, access permit history or pay permit fees.
- Search for information about active Planning projects. You may also submit applications for Site Plan, Construction Plan, and Subdivision Plat online.
- Schedule or cancel Building Inspections
Click here to access the portal.
City of Richmond
(Last Updated January 11, 2023)
Permits & Inspections Room 108 OPEN
The Permit Center, located in City Hall Room 108, is open 8:00am-1:00pm Monday-Friday for limited services that require in-person interaction that cannot be duplicated by electronic means. To schedule an appointment or for customer service inquiries e-mail:
Permits and Inspections: PDRPermitsAndInspections@rva.gov
Permits & Inspections Staff Directory
A P&I staff directory has been added to the City's website provide another level of customer service for the community to utilize. Please use this Directory to easily locate specific staff members associated with your project. Click here to access the directory. You can also view the P&I organizational chart by clicking here.
New Early Start Authorization Form
The City has developed an Early Start Authorization Form which will provide customers with the ability to start work prior to a permit being issued.
Conditions of Early Start Authorization
The Contractor listed must agree to the following:
- Early start Authorization is for interior work only, unless special consideration is granted by the Commissioner of Buildings.
- A Building Permit must be in plan review status at the time of the request for Early Start Authorization.
- Work shall not be concealed and must remain open for all necessary inspections. At the time of inspections any work shall be exposed.
- The Early Start Authorization does not guarantee that the construction plans will be approved as submitted. All work started with this authorization, prior to the issuance of the required permits, shall be at the applicant’s, property owner’s and contractor’s risk.
- Compliance with Asbestos Neshap, DEQ and other regulatory agencies must occur for any demolition work.
- The contractor acknowledges that all subcontractors are properly licensed and have current workers compensation coverage.
- The contractor acknowledges that City inspections of work for any construction trade will not occur until after the City permit has been issued for the building and all applicable trades.
- The contractor agrees to indemnify and hold the City of Richmond or its officers, agents and employees, free and harmless from any and all claims, causes of action, damages, losses, penalties or costs, including, but limited to, all attorney fees (whether from litigation or administration proceedings, including cost and fees on appeal), with respect to any person or government authority arising out of, either directly or indirectly, the construction or operation at the premises covered by this Early Start Authorization, whether the liability, loss or damage is caused by, or arises out of, the negligence of the City of Richmond or its officers, agents, employees, or otherwise.
- If the City of Richmond or its officers, agents, and employees, shall be subject to any claim, demand or penalty or become a party to any suit or other judicial or administrative proceeding by reason of any claimed act or omission by any party, or by reason of any act occurring on the subject premises, or by reason of any omission with respect to the construction or operation on the subject premises, the contractor shall indemnify and hold the City of Richmond or its officers, agents and employees, harmless against all judgements settlements, penalties, and expenses, including attorney fees, court cost and other expenses of litigation or an administrative proceeding, incurred by or imposed on the City of Richmond or its officers, agents and employees, in connection with the investigation of defense relating to such claim or litigation or administrative proceeding, and at the election of the City of Richmond or its officers, agents and employees, the contractor shall also defend the City of Richmond.
- It is understood and hereby acknowledged between the parties hereto that the City of Richmond or its officers, agents and employees, shall not be liable for any act or other obligation to the contractor.
- The approved Early Start Authorization Form must be posted on site for review. Contact the Commissioner of Buildings at email@example.com for more information, procedures and the official form.
(Last Updated February 10, 2022)
Third Party Plan Review Options
Powhatan is currently experiencing lengthy review times and does not have a plan reviewer as of right now. The County has approved three agencies for third party plan review. To have your permit expedited please visit the County office and obtain the forms and list of approved agencies. There will be a credit towards the application fee on new single family dwelling when this option is utilized. For more information contact 804-598-5622.