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  • Posts by Matthew Roberts
    Shareholder

    Matthew Roberts is a shareholder at Bean, Kinney & Korman. His practice focuses on land use and zoning, administrative and municipal law, public utilities, and real estate transactions.

    Matt represents and advises clients in land ...

On February 25th, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved Penzance’s 1555 Wilson Boulevard 4.1 Site Plan project.  The applicant, represented by Matt Roberts, proposed to rezone the properties and submitted a 4.1 Site Plan application to permit approximately 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use development in the West Rosslyn area.  The project, approved at 10 FAR, will deliver roughly 30,000 square feet of retail space and 892 units, including 105 condominium units, in two buildings spanning the site. The project will also deliver vital community benefits called for in the West Rosslyn Area Plan, including a new Fire Station No. 10 in the project’s East Building, an extension of North Pierce Street through the site, and a redeveloped Rosslyn Highlands Park.  For additional information, you can read the project’s staff report here.

On December 8, 2015, the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors unanimously approved Mini Price Storage's proffer amendment and special use permit applications to bring the company's first self-storage facility to the County.  Represented by Mark Viani and Matt Roberts, the applications removed a prohibition on self-storage uses at the property, allowing Mini Price to build over 151,000 square feet of self-storage use near Prince William Parkway and Telegraph Road.  The applications, which received the support of the Lake Ridge Occoquan Coles Civic Association’s Planning, Environment, Land-Use, and Transportation Committee and unanimous approval by the Planning Commission, also addressed the property's environmental features.  With these approvals, Mini Price will introduce a state of the art self-storage facility to serve the area.  For more information, you can review the project's staff report.

You arrive home that evening from work and sort through the mail, like you normally do. Bills, ads and even a birthday card from your Great Aunt Doris. The usual. At the bottom of the pile, though, is a letter from your local Zoning Office. That seems odd. You open it up to find the words “NOTICE OF ZONING VIOLATION” scrolled across the top of the letter. You read on to find the Zoning Administrator has determined your property is in violation of the local zoning ordinance, and that you have 10 days to correct the problem, or you will start to incur fines until you do. What now?

On October 20, 2015, the County Board of Arlington County unanimously approved The Shooshan Company’s 4.1 Site Plan Special Exception application for Clarendon West, a mixed-use residential and retail project. Represented by Jonathan C. Kinney and Matthew G. Roberts, the project introduces over 580,000 square feet of new development at the current site of the Red Top Cab company in Arlington County’s Clarendon neighborhood. With this approval, The Shooshan Company will build up to 580 multi-family residential units and approximately 3,500 square feet of retail space in three separate buildings. The multi-phase project includes substantial public benefits, including multiple transportation and traffic improvements along 13th Street North and Washington Boulevard, the delivery of land for a public park envisioned by the Clarendon Sector Plan and on-site affordable housing, among others.

Further details about the approval can be found on Arlington County’s website.

Fairfax County is proposing amendments to the Planned Residential Mixed-Use (PRM) and Planned Development Commercial (PDC) zoning districts that would have a dramatic effect on future projects. Responding to comprehensive planning guidance for increased density and mixed-use projects in Transit Station Areas, Commercial Revitalization Areas and Commercial Revitalization Districts, the proposed changes would allow projects to achieve greater densities and facilitate walkable, urban projects.

Chief among the proposed changes is increasing the allowed density in the PRM and PDC districts. If the Board of Supervisors adopts the changes, projects within Transit Station Areas and Commercial Revitalization Areas or Districts could receive up to 5.0 FAR at the Board’s discretion. Notably, however, the Board could limit projects to the densities stated in the comprehensive planning guidance for a particular site or area. Related changes include eliminating requirements for increased open-space and unique design features and adding provisions specifically permitting parking reduction requests.

These amendments are proposed for public hearings in November and December of 2015.

Image courtesy of La Citta Vita

On June 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that an Arizona town’s sign ordinance unconstitutionally regulated the content of speech posted on signs within the town. Like so many modern localities, the Town of Gilbert had adopted a sign ordinance regulating signage within the town, including the total number of certain signs that could be displayed, their size and how long such signs could be displayed. The town based these restrictions upon the type of sign to be displayed and created categories of signs subject to different regulations. In particular, the town created different regulations for ideological signs, political signs and temporary signs. The town based these differences in its police power considerations for the town’s aesthetics and traffic safety, and claimed it did not disagree with any particular message on a given sign. Under these sign regulations, the town cited the Good News Community Church on several occasions for violating the temporary sign regulations, because the church had not removed them in time and failed to include all the information required on a temporary sign. The church, in response, sued the town, claiming the ordinance was an unconstitutional content-based restriction of its freedom of speech.

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.

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.

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.

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.