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.

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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Fairfax Circuit Court Limits Homeowners’ Ability to Challenge Zoning Administrator

Posted in Local Government, Virginia Land Use/Zoning

Contentious land use approvals often result in lawsuits, which, even when unsuccessful, can lead to costly delays for developers. In the recent case styled In Re: November 20, 2013 Decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Circuit Court threw out one such legal challenge by homeowners to a controversial Zoning Administrator determination that the Board of Supervisors could approve a proposed storage facility by The Girl Scout Counsel of the Nation’s Capital (“GSC”) in conjunction with its special exception application to increase the occupancy of Camp Crowell in Oakton, Virginia. On appeal by nearby homeowners, the Board of Zoning Appeals reversed the Zoning Administrator. However, the circuit court then held that the BZA decision was void because the homeowners lacked standing to appeal the Zoning Administrator’s determination in the first place.

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The City of Fairfax and Affordable Housing

Posted in Affordable Housing, Local Government

Legislation proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates would give the City of Fairfax specific authority to adopt an affordable housing ordinance offering bonus development density in projects that provide an affordable housing component. Legislation at the state level is necessary, because under Virginia’s Dillon Rule a locality has only those powers that are expressly granted, those that can be implied from an express power and those that are essential and indispensable to the locality’s functions. Under the proposed legislation, the City of Fairfax could then move to adopt an amendment to its zoning ordinance that would allow bonus density in exchange for affordable housing. This would help solve an issue that recently arose in two City of Fairfax projects, where the City encountered redevelopment proposals and sought affordable housing contributions as part of the projects.

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Arlington’s Expanding Technology Zones

Posted in Virginia Land Use/Zoning

Arlington’s County Board is set to expand the number of properties eligible for its Technology Zone tax incentive program.  On December 13, the County Board will consider adding properties zoned Commercial/Mixed Use or Industrial to the list of qualifying properties.  Currently, only properties located within one of the County’s four Technology Zones qualify for the incentive program.  The current Technology Zones include commercially or industrially zoned properties in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, the Jefferson-Davis Corridor, Shirlington and Columbia Pike Corridor, as more fully described in Appendix A to Chapter 66 of the Arlington County Code.

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Water, Water, Everywhere

Posted in Virginia Land Use/Zoning

A drop of water in a pond.Despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession on real estate, residential infill development is a popular model in Northern Virginia for the residential developer. With infill development, a developer will typically purchase an existing home that sits on multiple legal lots, and then seek subdivision approval from the local government to create several buildable lots for new homes. But with that comes specific challenges to developed neighborhoods. Among others, neighborhoods in areas like Arlington and Fairfax are faced with increased water flow over adjoining properties, which can cause flooding of basements and backyard ponding, among other woes. So, what is everyone to do?

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D.C. Office of Planning Takes a Stand Against Pop-Ups With New Zoning Text Amendment

Posted in DC Land Use/Zoning, Urban Planning
Pop-up condo in the U Street Neighborhood

Pop-Up on V Street, image courtesy of Prince of Petworth

Sustained population growth in the District of Columbia in recent years has spurred a   rapid wave of construction throughout the city as upscale condominium projects   appear to spring up almost overnight to meet growing demand for housing. But while residential development has been a welcome sign of revitalization in areas from U Street to NoMa, a particular type of residential project, the “pop-up,” has been the subject of intense debate in some of Washington, D.C.’s established row house neighborhoods. In mid-July, D.C.’s Office of Planning seemed to take the side of the anti-pop-up camp when it proposed a zoning text amendment that would limit the development of pop-ups in the city. However, alternative ideas discussed at the Zoning Commission’s initial hearing on the proposal may lead to a middle-ground approach that would slow down, but not ban the rise of pop-ups in D.C.

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Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a…Plane!: Proposed FAA Policy Could Affect Building Heights

Posted in Codes and Regulations, Economic Development, Real Estate

The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area has no shortage of airplanes flying over the region. There is also no shortage of developers and landowners who want to create the region’s landmark buildings and skyscrapers which may fall within flight paths. These developers would rightfully be concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a change to its One Engine Inoperative (OEI) policy that could affect building height limits. The current proposal would allow the FAA to work with airport owners to define an OEI departure area from the runway.

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