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Gov. Kaine Signs Affordable Housing Bill

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) came to Arlington last week to sign into law legislation codifying an affordable housing agreement forged last year between county officials, developers and housing activists.

Developers had requested the deal be ratified by the Virginia General Assembly to ensure its sustainability.

Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple introduced the bill this past spring, and it was overwhelmingly approved.

"My congratulations to the Arlington community for working through this difficult challenge and coming up with an innovative solution that works for everyone," Gov. Kaine said. "As a bustling urban community, Arlington faces unique challenges in the Commonwealth, and I applaud their creativity."

The agreement obliges developers to provide affordable units, or otherwise contribute money to a housing fund, whenever the county board grants projects additional density beyond what is permitted by existing zoning rules.

Under the compromise, smaller projects with density below a county-established threshold will be exempt from providing affordable units. Developers of projects above the threshold can provide units on-site, off-site units nearby, units elsewhere in the county or contribute to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The new measure creates incentives to encourage developers to supply inexpensive units in new projects.

The legislation backing Arlington's new housing policy "provides a vital new tool in the struggle to maintain an adequate supply of affordable housing," County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said.

The bill-signing ceremony took place at One Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City, a residential project under construction by KSI Services Inc. When completed, One Metropolitan Park will include 20 units that the developer has committed will remain affordable for at least 30 years.

<tgl>— Seth Rosen and Bill Pritchard