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  • Posts by Zachary Williams
    Shareholder

    Zachary Williams is a shareholder of Bean, Kinney & Korman. His practices focuses on land use law and litigation. He represents clients in a broad range of land use and zoning matters and litigates civil cases in trial and appellate ...

The Arlington County Board held a work session this week with representatives from the Planning Division and Planning Commission to discuss projects and priorities for the coming year. This work session provided an opportunity for County Board members to interact with the planning department and ask questions about future planning projects and initiatives.

In the upcoming year, the County plans to complete four General Land Use Plan (“GLUP”) studies and a five-year review of the Comprehensive Plan. The County also plans to complete the Four Mile Run Valley Planning Program and the Courthouse Square Plan Addendum Implementation. The Planning Division will also be supporting the Housing Division with completing reports and recommendations for Market-Rate Affordable Units (“MARKs”) and Affordable Dwelling Units (“ADUs.”) It was also discussed that the Lee Highway Planning Initiative will be a major focus for the Planning Division in the coming years. Finally, it is expected that changes will be made to the County’s sign regulations to comply with recent case law decisions.

Much has been written about “pop-ups” in the District of Columbia, including a summary of the pop-up dispute and proposed changes to the D.C. zoning regulations on this blog last fall. The lengthy and contentious public debate culminated in new zoning regulations, effective on June 26, 2015, that ostensibly limit pop-up development in some areas of the city. However, despite the new regulations, the rise of pop-ups will continue to be seen given the appetite for new housing stock in D.C. The fight now appears to be shifting to design review and local neighborhoods’ use of the city’s historic designation laws to slow down or stop pop-up development.

Last 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.

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.

Pop-up condo in the U Street Neighborhood

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.

A multiyear land use battle over the future of the EnviroSolutions, Inc. (ESI) landfill in Lorton, Virginia is set to culminate in the Fairfax Board of Supervisors’ consideration of the proposed extended operation of the landfill until 2040. In May 2013, ESI submitted an application for a special exception amendment, along with other related land use requests, to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. In this application, ESI set forth its proposals for the future operation of the landfill site. ESI’s application has created controversy in the Lorton community as residential, business and public advocacy groups have voiced strong and differing opinions as to the best course of action at the landfill site.