Thursday, November 30, 2023

Virginia Beach light rail referendum to go on November ballot after judge’s ruling

A judge today ordered a referendum on Virginia Beach’s proposed light rail extension to be placed on the November ballot, an attorney representing the group behind the measure said.

File photo of the light rail petition effort during the November 2015 elections. (Judah Taylor/Southside Daily)
File photo of the light rail petition effort during the November 2015 elections. (Judah Taylor/Southside Daily)

The judge’s ruling settled a question over which signature threshold the group needed to reach to trigger the referendum. He ruled it was 16,409, or 25 percent of the turnout from the 2015 election, said Steve Miyares, the attorney for the group, No Light Rail Virginia Beach.

There had been questions over whether a higher threshold applied — the turnout from the 2014 election, which would have put the number closer to 27,000.

No Light Rail Virginia Beach has submitted 26,236 certified signatures, so even if the higher number was required, the group was confident it could have collected the roughly 500 additional names it needed by a July 6 deadline, Miyares said.

“The issue I had was, that’s not what the law was,” Miyares said.

The question has now been settled, and the referendum will be on the November ballot, he said.

Voters in Virginia Beach will see the following question:

Should City Council of Virginia Beach spend local funds to extend Light Rail from Norfolk to Town Center in Virginia Beach?

The results will be advisory only and non-binding on the City Council’s ultimate decision on whether to build the extension. A council vote is expected later in 2017.

Joash Schulman, a real estate and business attorney who manages office suites at Town Center, and a spokesman for the pro-light rail group Virginia Beach CONNEX, described another referendum as unnecessary because of the 2012 referendum that passed with 62.7 percent approval.

The 2012 question asked:

Should the City Council adopt an ordinance approving the use of all reasonable efforts to support the financing and development of The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach?

Asked what goal his group has for the 2016 vote, Schulman said they were looking for “just a positive outcome, whether it’s 51 percent or 90 percent.”

Related Articles