Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate
Legislation Passes in Virginia Restricting Phosphorus in Fertilizer,
Concept Originates with Members of Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real
Estate (HRACRE), Benefits Chesapeake Bay TMDL “Pollutant Diet”, Final
Stormwater Regulations and Real Estate Community and State Waters.
What began as a conversation after an HRACRE Legislative Committee
meeting late in the summer of 2010 ended in 2011 as successful Virginia legislation
phasing in a ban of phosphorus in most applications of fertilizers throughout the
Commonwealth. Two HRACRE members discussed why there wasn’t a concerted effort
to find the most cost effective means
of limiting the most phosphorus from
entering the Bay, not just from new development, but from all developed areas. That
led to recognition that application of lawn fertilizers at homes, shopping centers
and office parks contributes more phosphorus
to the Bay each year than land disturbance from new development. And
in other states such as Maryland, the recipe for fertilizer had already been modified
by legislation to reduce pollutant loads to the Bay, meaning that fertilizer companies
already knew of methods to achieve this important reduction.
Beneficially for Virginia, the timing of this legislation led to not
only future pollutant reductions but a number of other significant benefits. The
pollutant reduction generated by the legislation, while not only good for all state
waters, was also credited to the Commonwealth in computations for the new “pollution
diet” required by the EPA’s TMDL for the Chesapeake
Bay of 2010, and in the re-formulation of the new
Stormwater Regulations effective September
13, 2011. Previous stormwater regulations adopted by Virginia on January 4, 2010
were suspended on January 14, 2010 due to 25 petitions protesting the extreme complexity
and cost of achieving a noble but too stringent phosphorus removal requirement for
new public and private development. The overarching problem was that the amount
of phosphorus to be removed from the Bay by the pollution diet could not, in an
economically viable manner, come solely from future land development, point sources
like sewerage treatment and voluntary actions from farmers. The fertilizer legislation,
unbeknownst at the time of its conception, helped close that gap and make the requirements
for new construction, while challenging, more economical and helped agricultural
practices remain voluntary.
The involved parties within the Legislative Committee of HRACRE took
the lead in encouraging the Virginia Association for Commercial Real Estate (VACRE)
to champion this cause in Richmond during the 2010-2011 legislative Session. As
a consequence of the multiple benefits of such a cost-effective approach, a broad
coalition of real estate and conservation groups worked together with legislators
to craft a law that would be a true win-win for the environment, the development
community and conservation organizations.
Other organizations included were the: Virginia Association of Home
Builders (VAHB), The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the James River Foundation.
This collaboration continued with these four groups, approaching Senator
Richard Stuart (SB 1055) and, subsequently Delegate Lee Ware (HB 2463), to introduce
legislation in the House and Senate that would prohibit the sale of fertilizer with
phosphorus in Virginia for residential lawn use except in limited circumstances.
The four groups lobbied hard in support of this legislation during the 2011 Session
and opposed legislation (1831) proposed by the agricultural community which would
have prohibited the application of such fertilizer by consumers but would not prohibit
its sale in Virginia which would have led to all sorts of enforcement problems.
The legislation that was ultimately approved took the approach HRACRE/VACRE advocated
and included an added exemption for yard waste compost and other organic fertilizers.
CBF took the lead on the legislation but partnered with VACRE (coordinating with
HRACRE and other member organizations in Northern Virginia and Richmond) and HBAV
to obtain its passage and included their real estate colleagues in all strategy
and negotiating sessions on the bill and gave both those organizations, along with
the James River Association, credit for this work in the press release they issued
announcing passage of the bill.
In summary, discussion of this issue early in 2010 and encouragement
to work on it came from HRACRE and this played an important role in VACRE’s
making this legislation a top priority at the 2011 Session. This legislation was
born from a conversation between John Knibb,
member of HRACRE’s Legislative Committee, past president of
HRACRE and President of Land Development Inc., of Chesapeake; and
Bob Kerr, current chair of the Legislative Committee at HRACRE
and President of Kerr Environmental Services in Virginia Beach. The original discussion
about an approach focusing on cost effective, reasonable and truly significant environmental
improvement led to requirements on new construction that were reasonable, prudent
and achievable and achieved substantial net improvement to the quality of the Commonwealth’s
Please contact Bob Kerr and John Knibb for further information at:
Bob Kerr, firstname.lastname@example.org, office (757) 963-2008
John Knibb, email@example.com, office (757) 366-5555