The Monitor – August 2014

Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)The Monitor – August 2014
Local Issues

Join us at VPAR for the August 12th Lunch ‘n Learn with the City of Hampton’s Gail Hicks, Department of Public Works, and Steve Shapiro, Department of Community Development, regarding the City’s flood mitigation efforts and FEMA maps. On the agenda are:
• proposed changes to the flood zone ordinance;
• the importance of the flood elevation certificate;
• flood information services provided by the City, including a new flood tool, brochure, and study; and
• the Community Rating System (CRS) outreach & staff certifications.

VPAR has been contacted by Mayor George Wallace, Vice Mayor Linda Curtis and City Manager Mary Bunting to be part of a focus group of REALTORS®, builders and developers that will concentrate on how best to increase the City’s housing stock and how to meet the needs of the housing and development communities. More to come as details emerge on specific tasks and focus group members.

VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, continues to work with Community Development Director Steve Shapiro and members of the stakeholders group on the matter of the City’s Rental Inspection Program. The purpose of these discussions is to formulate measurable accountability standards to determine if the program is working, and how to calculate its effectiveness. VPAR has requested that Chief of Police Terry Sult be consulted on the program to advise of the effect of the program on crime in the areas of the City where the inspections are taking place. These discussions will be ongoing.

Speaking of Chief Sult, VPAR has had ongoing discussions with him and his investigative units regarding copper thefts and other metal larcenies throughout Hampton. A map has been developed that demonstrated the locations of these crimes that continue to be tracked by the Police Department. VPAR has provided mitigation details to the City and will continue to press the importance of careful diligence to members.

Confused about AICUZ? When do property owners disclose that they are in a noise or crash zone association with Langley Air Force Base? Or, when is disclosure NOT required? To better educate VPAR members as well as members from HRRA, who deal with similar issues from Oceana Naval Air Station, we are hosting a forum in conjunction with the September 23rd REALTOR Day event. Scheduled for 10:30 AM at the Marriott, VPAR and HRRA have invited VAR CEO Terrie Suit to speak to this issue given her work on it as a member of the House of Delegates. More details to come….but mark your schedule now.

Newport News
The Comprehensive Plan review continues in the City and will be ongoing for at least another 12 to 18 months. VPAR remains intensely engaged on the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC); not only does the Association have two representatives on the Committee, but also, the Association’s Public Policy Committee participated in a “mini” visioning session in June to provide input on housing, commercial and economic development, and redevelopment. VPAR has asked the City to conduct a visioning exercise– similar to the April visioning exercise with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, visit for more details on how you and your clients can weigh in on the Comp Plan review.

Like every city and county in the region, Newport News is working on flood mitigation and FEMA maps. VPAR has asked the Public Works and Engineering Departments to convene an information session at VPAR so that the membership can better understand the location of properties both in and out of the maps and how best to reduce risk in regards to flooding. More to come.

Similarly, every locality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Newport News is implementing the new state stormwater regulations into their local stormwater ordinance. In the past 10 years, many changes have occurred regarding the issue of Stormwater Management. Regulated by the EPA, states must regulate both point and non-point source pollutions in their waters. As part of new regulations that have been in development for several years, including legislation approved by the General Assembly, there are a number of changes required in local stormwater management ordinances, particularly with permits for construction activities. The new regulations became effective on July 1, 2014.

Newport News thoroughly reviewed its stormwater management provisions and is in negotiation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for approval. One particular noteworthy change that is universal to ALL local stormwater ordinances is that single-family residences separately that are built on less than one acre and are not part of a larger development plan are EXEMPT from the new guidelines. The Planning Commission APPROVED these changes on July 16th.

Also on July 16th, the Planning Commission APPROVED language that amends the Zoning Ordinance to allow group recovery homes in certain zoning districts of the City. A recovery home is a communal residential facility for not more than six (6) persons that provide housing for recovering addicts, a protected class under state and federal fair housing law. The group homes will be permitted by right in the O2 or hospital zones; they will be allowed with a conditional use permit in residential and commercial zones. Given that VPAR has long supported fair housing legislation and that the Association also has clarified repeatedly its support for the integrity of the conditional and special use permit process, VPAR has voiced support for the Recovery Home provisions. REALTOR® Michael Carpenter, a member of the Planning Commission, likewise offered his support for the language.
In anticipation of the approval of the draft Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) regulations, which can be found at, VPAR is working with the zoning and codes compliance administrators from each locality regarding their sign ordinances. The VREB has proposed that all For Sale and For Rent signs require the broker’s and firm’s name and contact information be clearly displayed. The Board believes that consumers should be able to daily contact the Broker if necessary. Whether by placing a sign rider to the current sign or even affixing a sticker with the required information to current signs, VPAR is making sure that the agents can comply in a cost effective manner that also complies with local sign ordinances. If necessary, VPAR will seek amendments to local sign provisions in order to remain compliant.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission has compiled all of the details from its various listening sessions and visioning exercises that were conducted to generate input regarding the Regional Comprehensive Plan. VPAR is one of the organizations that participated in this effort. The Commission has indicated that they likely will reach out to us again for additional input and to review the results, so stay tuned. View the various details gleaned from the Commission’s efforts to date at

As noted above, the VREB regulations have been reviewed and re-drafted. Currently, the VREB proposal is awaiting approval from Governor McAuliffe… along with 28 other sets of draft regulations. THE VREB REGULATIONS ARE NOT IN EFFECT AT THIS TIME AND WILL NOT BECOME EFECTIVE UNTIL THE GOVERNOR HAS FORMALLY APPROVED AND SIGNED THE DOCUMENT. VPAR will advise the membership upon approval and the regulations becoming effective.

The VAR Public Policy Committee meets on August 13th to initiate discussions on legislation proposed for the 2015 General Assembly Session. This is only the beginning of a very detailed process, and if VPAR members know of issues that require a legislative remedy, please advise your Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, at . This is one of the important actions that the Association undertakes every year. VPAR has a reputation for bringing critical issues to the attention of the state association; from providing civil and criminal immunity to licensees to prohibiting Property Owner Associations from charging excessive fees, VPAR has helped to improve the professional climate for the industry and for homeowners. Let’s not stop now!

On July 17, the U. S. Senate approved S. 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014, by a vote of 93 – 4. This strong show of bipartisan support for the program follows NAR sending a letter to the Senate and conducting a “Call for Action” among its members urging Senators to support this bill when it was voted on. S. 2244 reauthorizes the federal program created by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002 for seven years. The government backstop created by the program for cases of catastrophic losses due to a terrorist event allows private insurers to provide affordable terrorism insurance coverage throughout the country, and the recoupment provision in it protects taxpayers while costing the government nothing. In June, the House Financial Services Committee approved its version of a TRIA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4187. NAR will continue to monitor this issue and advocate for a quick and smooth reauthorization of this program which provides such important protections to commercial real estate. Read NAR’s letter to the Senate in support of S. 2244.

On July 23, 2014, NAR testified on flood insurance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee. The hearing was called to evaluate FEMA’s first four months in implementing recent reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). REALTOR® Donna O. Smith (S.C.), who is overseeing NAR’s efforts on the NFIP, ably delivered the testimony for NAR.

REALTOR® Smith testified that overall, FEMA’s early decisions to conduct outreach and provide for broader rate relief and refunds have helped to calm real estate markets. While there has been progress, NAR will continue to closely monitor FEMA’s efforts this fall when refunding all those property owners who were overcharged for flood insurance since 2012. NAR also urged FEMA to expedite particular reforms which set up a government office of the Advocate who can and will go-to-bat with the insurance companies or FEMA on behalf of home owners who challenge faulty rate quotes and flood maps. View NAR’s testimony here:

Should you have questions on these or other issues, or for additional details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or at