Tuesday, February 7, 2006

RICHMOND — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Republican legislators who rarely see eye to eye on social measures found themselves yesterday fighting for the same cause: smart growth.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, and Republican Delegates Robert G. Marshall and Clifford L. Athey Jr. rallied with smart-growth advocates and called on the General Assembly to give localities more control over development.

“People out in the communities that are affected by these growth issues, you know, they are not checking their party registration to decide if they’re frustrated with the way the situation is going,” said Mr. Kaine, who took office last month.

Mr. Marshall, who noted that he often disagrees with Mr. Kaine on social issues and tax increases, said they are “of one mind” on this matter.

“It is not a Democrat issue, it is not a Republican issue, it is an economic justice issue,” the Prince William County Republican said. “Developers have to pay for the cost of development and stop shoving this off on the citizens.”

Growth in the expanding Washington suburbs has long been the subject of debate, but the issue has garnered new strength after election results suggest voters are more interested in hearing about solutions to road congestion than hot-button social issues.

Mr. Kaine won in former Republican strongholds such as Loudoun County by campaigning on growth and transportation while his Republican challenger, Jerry W. Kilgore, spoke about abortion and the death penalty.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which organized the rally, told more than 200 advocates that Mr. Kaine is their “new champion.”

“We wouldn’t be at this table if he had not taken and run with this issue, recognized it as critical to the future of Virginia,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It remains a bipartisan issue. That’s why he ended up getting some crossover votes.”

The growth issue resurfaced in a special election last week when Democrat Mark R. Herring captured a Republican state Senate seat that partly represents Loudoun, which is one of the nation’s fastest growing counties.

Mr. Kaine said connecting transportation and land-use planning is a central component of his plan to ease congestion and urban sprawl.

“The old rules aren’t going to work for the new Virginia,” Mr. Kaine said. “If we just tax and pave the way we’ve been taxing and paving, it’s just going to make things worse.”

Other components of Mr. Kaine’s plan include accountability and raising money for mass transit and road construction. House Republicans on Monday killed the governor’s plan that would have increased the sales tax on buying a new car and the levy on insurance premiums.

However, Mr. Kaine has bipartisan support for several smart-growth measures pending in the legislature.

One bill would require traffic-impact statements for new developments. Also pending is a measure that would give local officials explicit power to deny rezoning applications if transportation infrastructure cannot support the development.

Mr. Athey, of Warren County, said Mr. Kaine has friends in the Republican caucus who “don’t believe the answer is to asphalt everything between here and Northern Virginia.”

Next week, Mr. Kaine will hold town-hall meetings in Springfield, Roanoke, Martinsville and Norfolk. He held nearly a dozen transportation forums across the state after the November election.

Mr. Kaine said he will discuss the urgent need for action and outline all the plans, including the one the House is expected to release this week. He said the final transportation agreement probably will be a “mix and match” of all three plans.

Critics call Mr. Kaine’s ideas “anti-developer,” but the governor said that without a solution, Virginia will be “so congested, so jammed up that we won’t have a good quality of life,” sending developers elsewhere.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide