Proposed bill to change planning commissioner requirements

The Fairfax County Planning Commission consists of 12 members who are all appointed by the Board of Supervisors. (Photo courtesy of Fairfax County.)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission consists of 12 members who are all appointed by the Board of Supervisors. (Photo courtesy of Fairfax County.)

A new bill proposed for the 2013 General Assembly session would change the requirements for serving on local planning commissions, a group of appointed people who make recommendations regarding land use policies. Commissioners are appointed by the governing body of the locality. In Fairfax County, the Board of Supervisors makes the appointments, as does the City Council in the City of Fairfax.

House Bill 1408, which was pre-filed on Dec. 18 of last year by Delegate James Scott (D-53), would remove the requirement that at-least half of all planning commissions own property.

“…There is no reason that service on the planning commission should disqualify anyone who is registered to vote from serving on the governing body, as long as they are otherwise eligible to vote,” Delegate Scott wrote in an email. “I remembered that, as a tenant when I first ran for elective office, I could not serve on the Planning Commission.”

A similar bill was introduced in the 2012 General Assembly session by Delegate David Englin (D-43), but was eventually killed with 61 votes against, and 36 in support. Scott, who was a co-patron of the bill last year, decided to reintroduce the bill in the 2013 legislative session.

Other requirements of commissioners include being curent residents of the locality, and “qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions on questions of community growth and development.”

The 2013 General Assembly session convenes on Jan. 9, 2013.

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