The Virginia Legislative Action Committee of CAI (VALAC) needs your help! VALAC is asking that you contact the Virginia Senate General Laws and Technology Committee and tell them to vote "No" on Senate Bill 707. Then, forward the information to your neighbor and ask that they too oppose this legislation. SB 707, available here, is scheduled to be heard in Committee the afternoon of January 22 or January 29, so immediate action is required.
Senate Bill 707 makes changes to the home-based business legislation originally introduced in 2013. The original legislation permits home-based businesses unless prohibited or controlled by recorded covenants for a community.
This bill seeks to prevent the Association from upholding and enforcing recorded governing documents by allowing home-based businesses of any type regardless of recorded restrictions for your community. Owners who live in communities with restrictive covenants that prohibit or control commercial uses of property in order to maintain the residential nature of their community have relied on the validity of the covenants in making the decision to live in the neighborhood.
Tell the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee (contact information is copied below) that whether businesses are allowed should be the decision of owners and that:
Senate Bill 707 is unconstitutional because the bill seeks to negate existing covenants and render meaningless restrictions prohibiting commercial use or limiting use to residential use. Article I, Section 11 of the Constitution limits the applicability of law on existing contracts and provides that "the General Assembly shall not pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts." According to the Virginia Supreme Court, declarations of covenants, conditions, and restrictions "collectively represent a contract entered into by all owners."
Existing law provides sufficient opportunity for community association owners to address home-based businesses by amending the declaration.
The bill allows commercial enterprise without regard to character and nature of a neighborhood - that will affect quiet enjoyment of property - increased traffic, noise, strain on common facilities, potential liability.
The bill creates uncertainty about activities that are considered residential - opens the door for other non-residential activities to be conducted in residential communities.
The bill erodes the ability of communities to self-govern, as intended and mandated by governing documents.
Commercial uses can create traffic - both vehicular and pedestrian, burden common facilities, including parking, create noise, operate during odd hours, increase the use of utilities or amenities in the community and thereby expense - these uses are not home-based businesses. The best "judge" on this issue are localities and the owners who live in the community because they are best situated to evaluate the impact on the neighborhood.
Owners do not want the legislature to change, override or negate their covenants, and they don't want businesses operating next door.
Immediate action is required. Please contact the General Laws and Technology Committee and ask that they oppose SB 707.