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This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Posts from May 2010.

I know most people out there who follow land use in the DC metro area are pretty familiar with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Plan and the Columbia Pike Form Based Code.  Then, like many others, you've probably wondered what will happen to the trolley system once Columbia Pike hits the Arlington County line?  Well, instead of continuing to head west down the corridor, it abruptly bangs a left at the county line, and heads south up the hill to Skyline (here is a transit plan showing approximate station locations and here is an aerial transit plan overlay).

TaxLast week, Montgomery County, Maryland passed what has been described as the nation's first local carbon tax.  The tax imposes $5 per ton on any entity that emits more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide in a single year.  Interestingly, the tax only applies to Mirant Corporation which owns the Dickerson Generating Plant in Montgomery County.  Mirant will reportedly challenge the tax in court.  The county also passed an 85% increase on its energy use tax.

Here is a new sampling of cases in which the Virginia Supreme Court has recently granted appeals.

In April, the Court granted the petition for appeal in Studio Center Corporation v. WKW Construction, LLC, Record No. 092257, challenging the ruling of Judge Shockley from the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach. Studio Center is contesting Judge Shockley’s holding that Virginia Code Section 54.1-1115(C) applied when the unlicensed contractor admitted it knew Virginia law required a license, but did not realize that it could not use someone else’s license. This case should give us some much needed guidance on Section 54.1-1115(C)’s requirement of “good faith” and “actual knowledge.”

May 17, 2010
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Topics Green

sustainable walmartImproving sustainability does not mean just increasing costs. Indeed, the best thinkers in the sustainability dialogue understand and embrace the need to include economics and profitability into the equation. This is particularly true in the current economic environment.

May 14, 2010
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Topics Green
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We were very pleased to be recognized Thursday by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at their 24th annual Best Business Awards, the ABBIES.  Bean Kinney received a Green Business Award for our efforts in green building projects, lecturing and writing, and development of our sustainability policy.  As quoted from the event by our friends at the Sun Gazette, “Sustainability is here to stay,” said Tim Hughes of Bean Kinney. “In our mind, it’s not only good citizenship, but it’s good business.”

Thanks again goes out to Shari Shapiro who provided a lot of good thoughts and advice on the path to development of our sustainability policy.  She also gets the funniest quote, via twitter, related to the same: "Lawyers hold on to their bottled water like two year olds and their sippy cups."  I am happy to report that not only is BKK unhooked off the bottled water quite nicely, but my daughter does not squawk too much when I hand her a regular cup.

For those of you that follow our blog who are familiar with land use planning in Virginia, I'm sure you already know that localities are required by the Code of Virginia to create and adopt a Comprehensive Plan.  Typically, a Comprehensive Plan contains a land use plan component, a transportation plan component, various engineering plans, and open space plans, among other things.  Makes sense right?  It is common sense that localities should plan the build-out of their communities in a logical manner, taking into considerations planned densities and uses, necessary transportation systems, and the infrastructure to support everything.

May 10, 2010
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Topics Litigation

Scales of justiceI regularly face the question of whether arbitration is "good or bad", "better than court", or best for a particular client.  I always give that most lawyerly of all answers: It depends.

Arbitration is presented as a means of streamlining disputes, cutting down expenses, and providing the parties with a more informed decision maker to boot.  I have seen arbitration work just like that.  I have also participated in more than one arbitration that seemingly was sidetracked by the arbitrators into examinations that neither counsel nor the parties believed was germane.  I have seen the process work in a streamlined fashion with cooperative document and information exchange.  I have also seen the same types of discovery sandbagging and withholding of information and documents that are way too prevalent.

 

Office foreclosure SNDAGiven the current commercial real estate market and the difficulties faced by many lenders, it is no surprise that many tenants are more concerned than ever about their landlord’s financing. In particular, even if the property is mostly leased and producing a steady income stream, tenants are concerned that highly leveraged landlords will have difficulty refinancing given declining property values and the challenging lending environment. Because of these factors, tenants are paying more attention than ever to their rights in the event of foreclosure by insisting that their landlord and landlord’s lender enter into a subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreement (an “SNDA”).

Back to another of the cases highlighted in Case Watch: Upcoming Virginia Supreme Court Opinions. In Schefer v. City County of the City of Falls Church, the Virginia Supreme Court was confronted with a 2006 amendment to a Falls Church ordinance that specified different building height requirements for one-family dwellings in the same zoning district.

Dulles Rail Aerial ViewThis week we have announcement of two significant bond offerings to cover transportation funding.  According to ENR, Governor Bob McDonnell announced last Friday that Virginia will sell $500 million in bonds for transportation projects in the Commonwealth.  This will be the first in a wave of bond offerings contemplated by Virginia which will total $2.2 billion over the next six years.  Count me as an observer that says the state bonds are nice, but Virginia will not solve its transportation problems absent a steady, consistent and meaningful source of transportation funding at the General Assembly.