Virginia Real Estate, Land Use & Construction Law Blog

Virginia Real Estate, Land Use & Construction Law Blog

Insight & commentary on real estate, land use and construction law in Virginia.

Relaxed Variance Standards in Virginia Soon to Go Into Effect

Posted in Virginia Land Use/Zoning

Undeveloped LotLast year, we wrote about the difficult standards in Virginia for obtaining a zoning variance, particularly in light of the recent case Martin v. City of Alexandria, in which the Supreme Court held strictly that all statutory requirements must be met before a variance may be granted. Now, those requirements are about to change. Effective July 1, 2015, recent legislation from the General Assembly will loosen the statutory standards for obtaining a variance in the Commonwealth.

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Update on the Arlington County Retail Action Plan

Posted in Economic Development, Local Government

Arlington retailOn April 22, 2015, Jill Griffin of Arlington Economic Development shared with NAIOP the progress being made on the update to the Arlington County Retail Plan (the “Retail Plan”). Following the County Board work session in January, the Retail Plan has undergone some further refinements. The number one theme which emerged during the County Board work session was “flexibility,” as the Board felt it was critical that the Retail Plan be able to adapt to fast-changing trends in retail.

Taking that to heart, Ms. Griffin explained that the draft Retail Plan was reorganized in hopes of making it more user-friendly and the six broad principles of retail (as defined in the plan) remained at the core of the policy.

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Unanimous Approval for 2025 Clarendon Boulevard

Posted in Urban Planning
Image of 2025 Clarendon courtesy of Carr Properties/SmithGroup JJR

Image of 2025 Clarendon courtesy of Carr Properties/SmithGroup JJR

On March 14, 2015, the County Board of Arlington County unanimously approved a 4.1 Site Plan Special Exception, Rezoning and General Land Use Plan Amendment to allow Carr Properties to build over 195,000 square feet of office and ground floor retail space in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. To accomplish the project, the application also included a successful Transfer of Development Rights from the nearby Wakefield and Courthouse Manor sites to preserve those historic properties. Carr Properties’ project, represented by Jonathan C. Kinney and Matthew G. Roberts, was also unanimously approved by the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission.

With these approvals, Carr will redevelop the existing Wendy’s restaurant and Wells Fargo bank sites, enlivening Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards with ground floor retail options and a generous public plaza area along North Courthouse Road. The building’s iconic architecture and glass fin will stand out in Courthouse and were designed to meet planning goals in Arlington’s “Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study.” And while office vacancies in Arlington remain high, the building’s floor plates effectively use the site’s challenging shape to meet market trends for smaller, more personal floor plates desired by tenants like the area’s burgeoning technology industry.

Development Community Comments on Recent GFA Memo

Posted in Urban Planning, Virginia Land Use/Zoning

BlueprintRecently, the Arlington County subcommittee for NAIOP met with Bob Duffy and members of the County staff to discuss the County’s February 9, 2015 Memo regarding policies related to GFA calculation for site plan projects in Arlington County.

The Arlington Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development recently issued a memo outlining how GFA is to be calculated in development site plan projects and what exclusions may apply. Mr. Duffy, Director of Planning, explained the purpose of the Memo was to offer the development community greater certainty and clarity regarding the County policies with respect to calculation of GFA.

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What’s in a Name?: Properly Appealing Adverse Zoning Determinations

Posted in Local Government, State Government, Virginia Land Use/Zoning

Court houseRecently, the Virginia Supreme Court clarified how property owners appealing adverse zoning determinations must style their case and who must be named as a party to such a proceeding.

In Frace v. Johnson, the Virginia Supreme Court held that the landowner had not properly appealed an adverse zoning determination to the Fairfax Circuit Court where she failed to name the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors as a party in the petition and did not serve the petition on the Board. Instead, following Virginia Code § 15.2-2314, she styled her petition as required by the statute, then served a copy of her petition on the Chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals within the 30-day limitation. The Fairfax County Zoning Administrator moved to dismiss the petition, because it did not name the Board of Supervisors as a party to the petition within the 30-day limitation.

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Arlington County Board Adopts Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance (with a Few Exceptions)

Posted in Local Government, Virginia Land Use/Zoning

Rainbow over Arlington, VirginiaThe Arlington County Board recently approved, with a few exceptions, the proposed amendments to the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance. The amendments to Articles 1-18 and Appendices A and B, to incorporate a use classification system; update use tables and definitions; update use standards, including new standards for short term uses and accessory uses; allow off-site parking for day care uses; allow by-right interior repairs and alterations to nonconforming buildings and structures in R-districts; and incorporate other minor updates throughout the Ordinance to codify administrative practices, increase clarity and consistency and correct errors, were unanimously approved.

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Arlington’s New Take on Density Exclusions

Posted in Urban Planning, Virginia Land Use/Zoning

BlueprintA new memorandum issued by Arlington County’s Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, Bob Brosnan, is proposing to change which areas in a building developers can expect to exclude from density calculations in a 4.1 Site Plan application.

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What Are the Legal Steps to Start a Construction Company in Virginia?

Posted in Construction

I am often asked, “What are the basic steps of starting a construction company?” We help with many of these steps, but we also advise clients how to do it on their own. Here are some of the basic steps.

1. Create Your Entity

 Given the threat of personal injuries and property damages, construction contractors and subcontractors really should create an entity to do their work as opposed to acting as a sole proprietor. The Virginia State Corporation Commission website has a wealth of information, including links to entity formation, forms for both corporate and limited liability company (LLC) filings, and instructions for filing. For a modest fee, you can create your entity with the SCC.

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Protecting Your Brand: A Gift Not Reserved for the Holidays

Posted in Real Estate

In light of the recent holiday season, one thing that all construction industry professionals can agree on is that brand protection is a gift whose usefulness never ceases. You understand the significance of it. Your logo may appear on scaffolding, on the tops and sides of buildings or in trade publications. Your safety awards may adorn the walls of your places of business, and the finished products of your lucrative contracts remain the topics of conversation among those who are fortunate enough to live in, work at or otherwise experience the benefits of one or more of your projects.

While largely a focus of ad agencies and public relations companies, brand protection has practical and legal considerations worth considering:

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Arlington County Retail Action Plan Update

Posted in Economic Development, Local Government

On January 20, during a special work session open to the public, the County Board considered updates to the Arlington County Retail Action Plan (the “Retail Plan”). County Board members met with Arlington Economic Development staff, the Arlington Retail Task Force of the Economic Development Commission and members of the Planning Commission. In the audience were members of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the local Business Improvement Districts.

The discussion centered on the role of the Retail Plan going forward, including the Plan’s overall vision, principals and policy.

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