2019 Vienna legislative-priorities package

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th), at right, makes a point as Vienna Town Council member Pasha Majdi and Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) listen Nov. 5, 2018, during a discussion about the town's 2019 legislative agenda. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

It’s a conversation that usually does not crop up until autumn, but Vienna Town Council members and town department heads already have begun thinking about which things to advocate for and oppose in next year’s General Assembly session.

Council members and town officials began hashing out ideas for Vienna’s legislative agenda

The legislative agenda likely will support some familiar requests: increasing state funding for sidewalks, roads and public safety; allowing area towns to have one vote on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (“I’m not sure we’re ready to throw tea into Boston Harbor over it,” said Town Attorney Steven Briglia); preservation of local land-use authority; and supporting the Virginia Municipal League’s (VML) legislative proposals, which likely will be finalized this fall.

But town officials also are pondering some new initiatives. One opposes bills that would weaken the town’s authority to issue licenses or franchises to telecommunications providers. This issue has become more significant with the advent of 5G wireless networks, Briglia said.

Localities faced a somewhat different challenge in the 1980s and ’90s, when telecommunications providers wanted to erect tall monopoles. A “quiet peace” followed, but now matters are ramping up again, as companies hope to co-locate antennas on established utility and light poles, he said.

Town officials will adhere to Virginia’s constitution, which says applicants seeking to use public rights-of-way must obtain a license or franchise from that locality, Briglia said.

The Council this fall will meet with the town’s General Assembly representatives, state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th) and Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) to get their perspectives on which legislative items to pursue.

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