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BY CHELYEN DAVIS
RICHMOND--Sen. Bryce Reeves' bill requiring localities to work with military commanders so as not to let development encroach on bases was nearly derailed Tuesday in a committee, when some legislators thought it went too far.
The bill says that "the requirements and concerns of military installations be recognized and addressed in consideration of future development" by local planning commissions. It also lets planning commissions install as a non-voting member of their board a representative from a local military base.
Sen. Steve Martin, R-Chesterfield, said that language went far beyond what Reeves described as a simple "permissive" bill.
"It plants the federal government right in the middle of questions of how land is used locally, owned by private citizens," Martin said during a Senate Committee on Local Government meeting.
The bill is an effort by Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration to stave off potential future base closures by showing the Department of Defense that Virginia's localities want to cooperate with military installations.
"The purpose is to protect Virginia's military installations from closure," said state Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit.
She said 20 percent of the jobs in Virginia are direct DoD hires, and that the administration is trying to protect those jobs and the economic impact of military installations in Virginia.
Suit said the administration wanted the bill to urge cooperation between localities and the bases located within them, but wasn't intended to be as strident as Martin felt it was.
Members of the committee decided to postpone action on the bill to soften the language, and will hear it again later in the session.
Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245