Back in April, the city of Virginia Beach told a developer “no” when they wanted to rezone land to build a subdivision on soggy property that was going to get worse with sea level rise/increased rainfall. This was the first time we could identify a local government decision based on FUTURE flood risk. At the time, we worried that the developer was going to sue the City over this.
Well, it happened. The developer will be in court this week to challenge the decision. They contend that the city, in asking them to account for higher rainfall and sea level rise standards in their designs, is acting outside of local and state regulations. The developer is correct in one respect: Virginia’s laws and regulations are silent on rates of sea level rise and increased rainfall intensity, leaving localities to fend for themselves, as Virginia Beach tried to do.
The City was concerned not only that the subdivision would flood, as other subdivions in the area have, but that the only entrance road will be underwater as well. The developer’s supporters say that it's not the private company's job to raise the road, implying that the taxpayers of Virginia Beach will get stuck with the bill for that work after the developer has built and moved on.
When you’re in a hold, quit digging, as the saying goes. Virginia Beach is tired of being put in a hole.