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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 09:32am
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In the Virginia General Assembly House bill HB1368 is pending for a vote. The bill will limit play on athletic fields (softball, baseball, football, soccer, etc) surrounded by houses during the hours before 8:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. and ALL DAY SUNDAY. The bill is below.


HOUSE BILL NO. 1368 Offered January 11, 2006 Prefiled January 11, 2006

A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Title 55 a chapter numbered 32, consisting of sections numbered 55-552 through 55-554, relating to the Home Serenity and Tranquility Act; civil penalty.

----------

Patron-- Hull (By Request) ----------

Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice ----------

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Title 55 a chapter numbered 32, consisting of sections numbered 55-552 through 55-554 as follows:

CHAPTER 32.

HOME SERENITY AND TRANQUILITY ACT.

§ 55-552. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:
"Affected homeowner" means any person owning or leasing a home that is located within 65 yards of any athletic field.
"Athletic field" means any area in which competitive sports are played, including swimming pools, regardless of whether such areas are owned or operated by public or private entities.

"Home" means a structure or part of a structure that is used as a home or residence by one or more persons who maintain a household, including, but not limited to, a manufactured home.

"Homeowner" means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested:
1. All or part of the legal title to the property, or
2. All or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises, and the term includes a mortgagee in possession.

§ 55-553. Hours of operation; notice; consent of homeowners; compliance with local ordinance.
A. No person owning or operating an athletic field shall operate or allow to be operated on such field any event (i) before the hour of eight o'clock in the morning, (ii) after the hour of six o'clock in the evening, or (iii) on Sunday without the unanimous written consent of the affected homeowners.

B. Each year, the owner or operator of an athletic field shall notify any affected homeowner of his intent to conduct or to allow to be conducted any event on an athletic field during the times prohibited by subsection A. Upon receipt of such notice, the affected homeowners shall, within 15 calendar days, make a written response to the owner or operator of the athletic field. Such response may be a denial of consent, consent to all such events, or consent for a specific period of time or for specified event. Failure to respond shall be deemed consent to all such events.

C. The owner or operator of an athletic field shall keep records of the notice and any response by an affected homeowner as required by subsection B for two years. Such records shall be available for public inspection.

D. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any event held at an athletic field shall comply with all applicable state and local ordinances governing noise and nuisance.

§ 55-554. Penalties; enforcement.
A. Any owner or operator of an athletic field that violates the provision of subsection A of § 55-553 shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $500 for the first violation. For any subsequent violation, such person shall be subject to a civil penalty of $750, which amount shall be paid into the State Literary Fund.

B. Any homeowner aggrieved by a violation of subsection A of § 55-553 may proceed to enforce his rights under this chapter by filing an action for an injunction, supported by an affidavit showing good cause, addressed to the general district court or the court of record of the county or city where the athletic field is located. If the court finds a violation, the petitioner shall be entitled to recover all costs and attorney fees

[Edited by BigUmp56 on Jan 23rd, 2006 at 10:52 AM]
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 09:57am
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This is even more stupid than the Missouri legislation to tax umpires that came up during the NLCS.

IF this goes through, it will at least be the end of Little League in Virginia. Absolutely ridiculous.
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 10:30am
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Reminds me of a place I used to live. A new housing area was built near the end of the airport runway. Then the people who moved in there started to complain about jet noise.

I was president of a softball league the past few years. There's been one person living across the street from the field that complains to the police on a regular basis about the lights, noise and language. When you move in near sports facilites well guess what! Actually a lot of the noice and most of the language was from the neighborhood kids hanging out in the park complex.

Interesting it says "competitive" so does that mean leagues? So the parks will be filled with kids/adults just playing and yelling anyway, just not as part of pre-organized teams.

I am sure common-sense will prevail.
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 11:04am
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Quote:
Originally posted by jxt127
Reminds me of a place I used to live. A new housing area was built near the end of the airport runway. Then the people who moved in there started to complain about jet noise.

I was president of a softball league the past few years. There's been one person living across the street from the field that complains to the police on a regular basis about the lights, noise and language. When you move in near sports facilites well guess what! Actually a lot of the noice and most of the language was from the neighborhood kids hanging out in the park complex.

Interesting it says "competitive" so does that mean leagues? So the parks will be filled with kids/adults just playing and yelling anyway, just not as part of pre-organized teams.

I am sure common-sense will prevail.
Good points about moving into an area and then complaining.

The last sentence: optimism? naïveté?
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 01:31pm
EMD EMD is offline
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My real profession is a planner that deals with this issue from time to time and would like to enter some reality to the issue before everyone get them self worried over nothing.
1) This legislation can only apply to new facilities, the land use law can NOT zone out an existing use. (Eminent Domain is a separate issue). So if a field exist today it will be there next year, unless it is bought out or something similar. Another example; I buy a house next "T’s Crab Shack’ and complain about the noise, etc. then the local township decides to write an ordinance the prohibits "T’s Crab Shack"." Well T get pissed until he discovers that the ordinance only prohibits the future land use and if the current land use or restaurant use does not change significantly then he is good to go for as long as he wants. This law is supreme under the federal system, of which every state must obey.

2) Most athletic fields are Conditional Uses and typically are permissible within all land use areas. A land use area is an area designated for a specific use such as industrials or residential. The term Conditional, simply put, means the use or baseball field is permissible with specific conditions. For example no PA systems above a certain decibel during specified time frames, or a landscape buffer along the perimeter of the property. Typical the conditions limit any negative impacts on the adjoining property.

For information about this subject go to http://www.planning.org

BTW: The good news is that a newly built field will need to constructed to a higher standard, thus creating a higher construction cost which, I hope, will lead to higher cost to play and ultimately higher level of competition. So in a nut shell, it my opinion that you should not get excited about this.
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 03:29pm
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Quote:

BTW: The good news is that a newly built field will need to constructed to a higher standard, thus creating a higher construction cost which, I hope, will lead to higher cost to play and ultimately higher level of competition. So in a nut shell, it my opinion that you should not get excited about this.
[/B]
It makes sense that it only applies to future use. Still, perception can hurt. If they pass this law, existing fields will still hear complaints from neighbors.

New developments in my area often come with a requirement for field construction. To pursue this now, I guess a developer will have to buy land away from the development where he is building, and away from all existing developments. Good luck finding that in NJ.

If higher standards lead to higher construction costs which lead to higher levels of competition, it would be because fewer kids could afford to play. If the numbers stay the same, simply putting the kids on more expensive fields will not make them better ball players. And if costs go up there will be moves to reduce costs in other areas. Who do you think will be the first to sacrifice? I'll bet all that money they spend on umpires will look tempting.

Mike
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 03:52pm
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All;

I just did a rough count and we have about 70 lighted 90 foot baseball fields in Northern Virginia. We have another 60 or so lighted football fields and an untold number of lighted soccer and LL baseball fields. I have no count on the number of lighted softball fields but it probably exceeds the other categories. Games generally run until 11pm and with a special permit can go later.

Shutting them all down at 6pm means that a whole lot of capital investment goes up in smoke. Here in Viriginia the sun is up til then (except in November December, January and February) so we would have no need of lights if we are shutting down at 6pm. Bottom line: This legislation has no chance. Complaining neighbors is an ongoing problem, but we live it.

Peter
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 04:39pm
EMD EMD is offline
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"Shutting them all down at 6pm means that a whole lot of capital investment goes up in smoke."

The capital investment will not go up in smoke, the state can not do simple zone away an existing use. It then, technical becomes a "pre-existing non conforming use" and they can not touch it. If they do, through a series of legal acrobatic move, it is then called a "Taking."

A taking is similar to Emanate Domain in so far as the state no longer allows you to use your property in a profitable manner and MUST compensate you for that. For example, let say for the sake of argument that the state is able to limit your play time to dust and you invested $250,000.00 in lighting to play till 10pm. The field authority would lose the money they paid for the lights and future profits off the games played after dust. This would go into arbitration then 2 lawyer and a judge would decide how much you receive. Or go to court. Similar to a balk, there is no appeal. However, I would not be worried for the reasons I posted above.
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 05:14pm
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"ALL DAY SUNDAY"

In my opinion, this alone makes it unconstitutional.

Bob
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 05:19pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by EMD
"Shutting them all down at 6pm means that a whole lot of capital investment goes up in smoke."

The capital investment will not go up in smoke, the state can not do simple zone away an existing use. It then, technical becomes a "pre-existing non conforming use" and they can not touch it. If they do, through a series of legal acrobatic move, it is then called a "Taking."

A taking is similar to Emanate Domain in so far as the state no longer allows you to use your property in a profitable manner and MUST compensate you for that. For example, let say for the sake of argument that the state is able to limit your play time to dust and you invested $250,000.00 in lighting to play till 10pm. The field authority would lose the money they paid for the lights and future profits off the games played after dust. This would go into arbitration then 2 lawyer and a judge would decide how much you receive. Or go to court. Similar to a balk, there is no appeal. However, I would not be worried for the reasons I posted above.
EMD;

Your analysis would be correct except for one thing:

95% of the lighted fields that I mentioned are owned by local government agencies and were erected with tax money. They can legally shoot themselves in the foot if they want to. Very few fields are owned by local Little Leagues, etc.

Peter
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Old Mon Jan 23, 2006, 05:38pm
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The ALL DAY SUNDAY comment about being unconstitutional is funny. Some of us with grey hair remember that Sunday used to be off limits in many places. In the South, Blue Laws used to forbid much of anything from happening. Carl can comment, but it wasn't that long ago that many towns in Texas forbade their stores from being open on Sunday. Heck, even up above the Mason Dixon line we had limited functions on the seventh day.

My comment to EMD is made only out of curiosity - I have no professional knowledge of eminent domain. The Supreme Court just struck down a complaint against eminent domain, if I'm not mistaken. This would seem to embolden many of the fifty to enact stricter ordinances and permit quick claims.

Again, I'm not an expert on these laws, but I can recall a rather lucrative 'adult' business in one of the Chicago suburbs. It had been around for close to fifty years, having been built originally in an unincorporated area. As the town grew around it and the land was absorbed by the municipality, the new town fathers had a pang of guilt and decided to condemn the activity and tear down the building. A rather ugly legal battle ensued; the neighbors of the establishment claimed their property values suffered and that the nuisance of the establishment blighted the community. Judge after judge sided with the village, even the the business was older than all but one of the new village trustees! Down came the business and a nice strip mall went up. Instead of jiggly girls they get nails, dry cleaning, slurpees and a mattress store. Doesn't it seem that villages do this type of crap all of the time? Now the states are getting into the act. I've seen an awful lot of farms get gobbled up in the name of highways. Those families may have been working the land since Teddy was president, but the state seems to be able to justify that pretty well. Are you sure?
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Old Tue Jan 24, 2006, 12:26am
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Quote:
Originally posted by His High Holiness
Quote:
Originally posted by EMD
"Shutting them all down at 6pm means that a whole lot of capital investment goes up in smoke."

The capital investment will not go up in smoke, the state can not do simple zone away an existing use. It then, technical becomes a "pre-existing non conforming use" and they can not touch it. If they do, through a series of legal acrobatic move, it is then called a "Taking."

A taking is similar to Emanate Domain in so far as the state no longer allows you to use your property in a profitable manner and MUST compensate you for that. For example, let say for the sake of argument that the state is able to limit your play time to dust and you invested $250,000.00 in lighting to play till 10pm. The field authority would lose the money they paid for the lights and future profits off the games played after dust. This would go into arbitration then 2 lawyer and a judge would decide how much you receive. Or go to court. Similar to a balk, there is no appeal. However, I would not be worried for the reasons I posted above.
EMD;

Your analysis would be correct except for one thing:

95% of the lighted fields that I mentioned are owned by local government agencies and were erected with tax money. They can legally shoot themselves in the foot if they want to. Very few fields are owned by local Little Leagues, etc.

Peter
Yep.
I'll keep y'all posted [a former partner of mine is on Courts of Justice], but I'm pretty sure that Peter nailed this off the top: it's got no chance, 'cause [among other things] the Gov owns most of the fields. Plus, for this sort of issue the Courts of Justice Committee is where stupid ideas go to die. If the Assembly leadership was serious about this, it'd be assigned to another committee.
Added:
Just went & checked: I am sorry to report that the patron of this foolishness is "one of mine" [a "D"] from Peter's neck of the woods. He is the ONLY sponsor & it's "By Request" meaning that the bill is not his idea, but someone prevailed on him to put it in the hopper. The patron is a member of the committee to which I expect this sort of legislation would normally be referred, so it is interresting that it was sent to Courts. I renew my prediction that it was sent there to die.

[Edited by cbfoulds on Jan 24th, 2006 at 12:51 AM]
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Old Tue Jan 24, 2006, 05:51am
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Quote:
Originally posted by His High Holiness
All;

I just did a rough count and we have about 70 lighted 90 foot baseball fields in Northern Virginia. We have another 60 or so lighted football fields and an untold number of lighted soccer and LL baseball fields. I have no count on the number of lighted softball fields but it probably exceeds the other categories. Games generally run until 11pm and with a special permit can go later.

Shutting them all down at 6pm means that a whole lot of capital investment goes up in smoke. Here in Viriginia the sun is up til then (except in November December, January and February) so we would have no need of lights if we are shutting down at 6pm. Bottom line: This legislation has no chance. Complaining neighbors is an ongoing problem, but we live it.

Peter
I gotta agree with u HHH. Schools will raise holy u know what because varsity football is usually their biggest athletic revenue raiser and most games are played at 7:30 pm on friday nights, least around here. No one in their right mind would propose that in Oklahoma, not with as big as football is around here. If someone sent that to the state house no way would they see office for another term..
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Old Tue Jan 24, 2006, 11:37am
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This legislation has made the Washington Post today. Note that near the end of the article, the committee chairman in charge of this legislation plans to kill it right away. All of the local political leaders here are outraged.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...012301801.html
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Old Tue Jan 24, 2006, 12:04pm
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As well they should be.

Tim.
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