Coalition Email to Senate Committee

Vote NO on Senator Stanley’s SB 1110:

Representing community members in Prince William County, the Coalition to Protect Prince William County sees the ploy by utility companies (Dominion Power, AEP, and others) in this legislation, and we won’t stand for it.

Residents and leaders across Prince William County and elsewhere sent a deluge of 814 emails to members of the House Commerce and Labor Committee last week – voicing unequivocal opposition by our community to Delegate Habeeb’s HB 1766 and its intent. Even more made personal phone calls to the House committee members in advance of last week’s committee vote.

Now that Senator Stanley’s matching bill SB 1110 is before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee for vote, you will most likely also hear directly from hundreds of our citizens opposing the measure – through emails and phone calls.

We, as Virginians, cannot allow Dominion Power or any other utility, to take away the authority of our local Boards of Supervisors. Our county is often the last line of defense for citizens. State senators are there to represent citizens, NOT to give big corporate entities – particularly those who can seize and impair property – yet another way to avoid being held to account for their action.

Under current law, our county Board of Supervisors – like any other – has been expressly granted the power to approve or deny an application for a substation, an important distinction given that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, and localities only have those powers expressly granted by the legislature. The proposed legislation will eliminate that express power and prevent a hearing before and a vote by our county Board of Supervisors. Our County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution last week opposing both bills being put forward by Delegate Habeeb and Senator Stanley (!

The issue is not one without precedent elsewhere in the Commonwealth. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Virginia held in BASF CORPORATION v. STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION et. al., that “in determining whether certain structures or uses are exempt from local zoning ordinances, there must be a “manifest intention on the part of the legislature” to do so.” The court held that although the SCC’s determination that such facilities and transmission lines function together and should be governed under the same authority, the intention to exempt such facilities from local zoning ordinances was “not manifest within Code § 56–46.1.” Thus under the plain language of the Code of Virginia, “the only structures or uses expressly exempt from local zoning ordinances are transmission lines.” As a result, the court held that facilities such as substations “are not expressly exempt under Code § 5646.1(F).”

The Senate committee must kill this proposal from Senator Stanley, and not give it the light of day. You must VOTE NO.

We expect you to stand by the interests of citizens and the local leaders they elect. Who is in control of our government – our elected leaders, or a utility company?

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