The Monitor – Jun/Jul 2014 Edition



Mark your calendars for August 12th! VPAR is hosting a Lunch ‘n Learn with the City of Hampton that will feature new information about the flood zone ordinance.

Beginning at 12:00 noon, at VPAR, Gail Hicks, Water Resources Engineer for the Hampton Department of Public Works, and Steve Shapiro, Deputy Director of the Hampton Community Development Department, will be presenting the following information:
• Proposed changes to the flood zone ordinance (Steve)
• Importance of the flood elevation certificate and the Letter Of Map Amendment
• Flood information services provided by the City, including a new flood tool, brochure, and study
• Community Rating System (CRS) outreach & staff certifications

VPAR has been working with the City’s Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee (ZOAC) on proposed changes to Hampton’s flood zone ordinances, which include the following draft provisions:
• Increase free board on finished 1st floors from one foot to three feet, applying only to properties in the flood zone;
• Require 18’ elevation of flood proofing for all new construction and applying only to properties in the X500 area of properties with a 0.02% annual flood risk.

The issue will come to the Planning Commission in August and the City Council in September.

VPAR members have long used the disclosure form regarding the location of a property in the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) that surrounds Langley Air Force Base. But how does that differ from required disclosures at Master Jet Base Oceana? Are their differences? How do REALTORS® on the other side of the water handle their noise, crash and AICUZ areas?

Learn the nuances, or not, between these air installations and what your responsibilities are to your sellers and buyers by attending the September 23rd forum. Held in conjunction with the Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association and as part of the VPAR REALTOR® Fest event, we invite you to this important issue from 10:30 AM until 12:00 noon at the Newport News Marriott. THERE IS NOT COST TO ATTEND!

VAR CEO Terrie Suit, one of the principal legislative authors of the Code of Virginia enabling legislation on AICUZ and air installation issues, will present relevant data, as will VAR Deputy General Counsel Blake Hegeman. Additional forum details will be forthcoming, but be sure to be part of this jam-packed session that will help you understand the do’s and don’ts of AICUZ disclosure.

VPAR continues to work with the City on the implementation of the Hampton Rental Inspection Program. At this point, we have hosted two events bringing the program inspectors together with REALTORS® and other stakeholders, and Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, remains in discussions with the City’s Community Development and Police Departments to formulate measurable standards to determine the program’s effectiveness.

In the meantime, there has been a threat of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. VPAR and the Virginia Association of REALTORS® will be watching this situation carefully, but at this time, we will not weigh in on any filings.

VPAR is working with the Hampton Police Department to stem the tide of ongoing copper thefts from HVAC units, copper plumbing components and other accessible copper wirings. While the rate of vandalism of metals and copper is down 39% over this time last year, the City continues to see larcenies, particularly in the AC units of vacant homes. There have been 100 thefts to date and 19 cases have closed, including one arrest. VPAR has advised the Virginia Bankers Association so that it can alert its member banks to issues with foreclosed properties. Look for more information forthcoming. We are considering have a late Fall Lunch ‘n Learn with the Hampton and Newport News Police Chiefs on this and other relevant issues.
The 18-month process of updating and reviewing the City’s Comprehensive Plan continues! Chaired by REALTOR Michael F. Carpenter, the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC), which also includes VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, has been hard at work since December with monthly meetings.

Recently, VPAR’s Public Policy Committee held a conference call with the City’s Comprehensive Planning Consultants for the purpose of gathering VPAR’s input into specific issues in Newport News. While there is a focus on the Super Block and how to redevelop that important part of the City, the Public Policy members also discussed improving the City’s overall housing stock and housing opportunities as well as improving economic development. Committee members completed surveys and submitted them for inclusion into the overall community feedback aspect of the Plan.

Meanwhile, Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston is conducting in-depth discussions with City planners regarding specific housing issues that should be addressed in the Comprehensive Plan: workforce and affordable housing, high-end housing, senior housing, accessory dwelling units, etc.

For more information on the Comprehensive Plan and the review process, visit

Like every locality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the City 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 has 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 will hear these changes on July 16th.

The Regulations Committee, on which VPAR’s Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston serves, approved and will send to the Planning Commission on July 16th language that will amend 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 has advocated for it during General Assembly sessions, 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 Regulations Committee and the Planning Commission, likewise offered his support for the language.

City planning staff advised that Newport News will be submitting its new flood maps to FEMA this month. They expect to hold community meetings in August, and VPAR will be invited to participate. There will be more to come on that here soon.

HRPDC is compiling information received from a variety of stakeholder groups, including VPAR, and will release in the coming days the goals, objectives and action items to move the plan forward.

Core values mentioned time and again included diversity, both of people and landscape, a sense of place with a sense of pride, our water and natural environment, military and history. And while there was an obvious affection for Hampton Roads, there was also an aspiration to make the region better by being proactive, embracing change, forward-thinking leadership and, most of all, thinking and acting more regionally and less parochially.

As the regional strategic planning effort continues, the HRPDC Steering Committee as well as Stakeholders will be meeting over the course of the next several months to roll up their sleeves and do this important work and we will continue to report on these efforts. VPAR has asked for specific input that will allow the Association to work with local government decision makers in areas involving land use and housing.

The DRAFT regulations promulgated by the Virginia Real Estate Board are NOT in effect at this juncture. Governor McAuliffe has not signed the regulations, and until such time that his signature is placed upon the regulations, they are not effective.

One area where VPAR already is laying the groundwork, however, in anticipation of the Governor’s approval coming at some point soon, is regarding sign riders. The draft regulations would require that all “FOR SALE” and “FOR LEASE” signs placed on the property include but are not limited to the firm’s name and the firm’s primary or branch office telephone number. This information could be placed on a sign rider, but we want to be sure there are no prohibitions against sign riders in our localities’ zoning ordinances. More details to come.


Check out the new laws that became effective on July 1, 2014! Go to VAR’s website at and learn details on all of the various real estate and business-related laws that YOUR ASSOCIATION successfully advocated in the 2014 General Assembly Session! If you would like to have more information on these legislative, now legal, components, contact Susan Gaston at or by phone at 757-871-1445, and schedule her to present the information at an upcoming sales meeting!
Discussions recently were held between VPAR and HRRA regarding the House of Delegates 64th District, in which a small portion of HRRA members reside but which is dominated by VPAR members. The Associations have agreed that VPAR will remain the primary association for the 64th House, which currently is represented by Del. Rick Morris. The Associations further agreed that VPAR will invite HRRA to participate in a meeting with Delegate Morris (or his successor) during VAR’s REALTOR® Day on the Hill and at least one additional meeting per year outside of the General Assembly session. Additionally, in the event of an open seat or a contested race, VPAR will invite HRRA to participate in the candidate interview and endorsement process for the 64th district. These mutual agreements will assist RPAC of Virginia in retaining its strength and high level of influence.
FEMA Releases Refund Guidance
On June 26, FEMA released guidance related to providing refunds to property owners that overpaid for flood insurance. Pursuant to Section 3 of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA), refund amounts will be determined using rates made available in Bulletin W-14026 issued on May 29, 2014.

Section 3 of HFIAA requires FEMA to restore Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) subsidized rates and issue refunds of excess premiums collected above the subsidized rate for:
• Pre-FIRM properties not insured when the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012(Biggert-Waters) was enacted;
• Pre-FIRM properties purchased after Biggert-Waters was enacted; and
• Policies for Pre-FIRM properties that were rated full-risk under Biggert-Waters due to a lapse in coverage, but only for policies where the lapse was due to a property owner no longer being required to purchase flood insurance.
• The issuance of refunds will begin on Oct. 1, 2014, and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2014.

On Tuesday June 17, 2014, the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held a webinar describing the forthcoming August 2015 changes to loan disclosures and settlement statements. In addition to major changes to the forms themselves, the new rules will require that the settlement statement be completed three days prior to closing. While some changes may occur during the 3 day period, changes to loan terms will require a new 3 day waiting period. The webcast requires a short form to be completed and can be viewed at the link below.
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