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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 in Land Use/Zoning.
Unanimous Approval for Self-Storage Facility in Prince William County

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.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign (ordinance): Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the First Amendment and Signs

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.

March 12, 2014
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More than one landowner has been disappointed to find out they cannot develop their property how they would like. This disappointment can be compounded if the landowner bought a property based on its zoning potential, but the locality then rezoned the property to remove the use, essentially pulling the rug out from under them. Luckily, if the right circumstances exist, there are rules protecting landowners’ development expectations. This article will focus on the first element of those rules - obtaining a significant, affirmative governmental act.

December 26, 2013
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Pop quiz: You want to purchase an undeveloped lot with the hopes of building your home on it.  You hire a title company to perform the title work, which appears to come back clean.  You are told your lot used to be part of a bigger parcel, but it was subdivided a few years ago, and your neighbors own the other lot.  You even take a look at the subdivision plat to see where the boundaries are located.  In the end, you buy the property and receive a deed with a metes and bounds description of the property’s boundaries.  Then you apply for the permits to build your home.  However, the local zoning office says you cannot build on the lot, because the locality never approved that pesky subdivision plat.  Confused by this revelation, you wonder what do you own and what can you do with it?

U.S. Supreme CourtToday, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) issued its opinion in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, No. 11-1447, slip op., 570 U.S. ___ (2013).  Koontz, a victory for the property owner, is an important property rights case affecting the government’s ability to impose monetary conditions on the approval of land use permits.