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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 State Government.

The Virginia General Assembly passed hundreds of bills signed into law by Governor McAuliffe during the 2017 legislative session, and all of these bills went into effect on Saturday, July 1st. Many of these laws touch on real estate, local government, and economic development-related issues, including a law extending the expiration date of certain land use approvals - site plans and special exceptions, for example - a law authorizing short term lodging (AirBNB), a law restructuring the Economic Development Authority, and a law establishing the Metro Safety Commission. Notably, numerous attempts to revise the 2016 proffer law all failed, although the General Assembly is likely to reignite the proffer fight again in the coming sessions. For more information on other high profile bills that went into effect on July 1st, click here.

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.

As of July 1, 2014, Virginia landowners will have a new tool to use in the zoning game.  On April 6, 2014, Governor McAuliffe signed SB 578 into law.  The bill provides a damages remedy for applicants seeking zoning or subdivision approvals and who are faced with accepting the imposition of unconstitutional conditions as the price for approval.  The new law reflects recent cases in the United States Supreme Court, but also affirms a long standing rule against unconstitutional conditions set by the Virginia Supreme Court in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chesapeake Bay BridgeLast week EPA issued its "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay. The total maximum daily load (TDML) of various materials is established by EPA in the diet and includes a 25% reduction in nitrogen, a 24% reduction in phosphorous, and a 20% reduction in sediment according to Engineering News Record (subscription only). The plan also includes annual total watershed limits.

October 21, 2010
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Yes, it's getting to be that wonderful time of year again, and with all the 2011 pre-legislative session jockeying already well under way in Virginia, one of the 600 pound gorillas in the room this year is how the statutorily mandated redistricting process will play out.  With control over the house and senate split, and no state legislative elections until after the 2011 session, neither party will have control over the process (as was the case after the last two censuses).  With the volume of proposed legislation the Virginia Legislature handles every session, and the difficulties split control over the Senate and House of Delegates pose on proposed legislation even under normal circumstances, it is going to be even more complicated this year when redistricting gets tossed into the bartering process.  Already, people are questioning whether Richmond can get the job done before the November 2011 elections.  Not only are state legislative district lines on the table, but so are federal congressional districts.

Although obviously based upon sound legal principles, it was still surprising to find out that the Supreme Court held in Ligon v. County of Goochland that whistleblower protections for county employees against retaliatory firings under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act ("VFATA") were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.  As many of our readers know, the doctrine of sovereign immunity gives immunity to the Commonwealth, as well as localities as political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, from liability for damages and from suits to restrain governmental action or to compel such actions (such as tort liability for actions or omissions of a county's agents and employees).  However, while the VFATA was likely intended to create protection for the Commonwealth's employees from retaliatory discharge for reporting corruption and fraudulent behavior, the Supreme Court found that the plain language of the statute failed to explicitly include retaliatory discharge necessary for it to waive its sovereign immunity.  So basically, a corrupt county employee can fire a whistleblower, and the whistleblower can't sue the county to get his job back or for damages.

According to the Chesterfield Observer, Chesterfield and Hanover Counties intend to ignore the Attorney General's recent opinion (click here for our previous analysis when the opinion was issued) about the applicability of Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2303.1:1 and will continue to deman cash proferred prior to 15.2-2303.1:1's July 1, 2010 effective date.  The purpose of Section 15.2-2303.1:1 was to postpone the payment of cash proffers for residential developments from issuance of the building permit to issuance of the certificate of occupancy in order to give residential builders and developers some financial relief until 2014.

This year's proposed Constitutional Amendments are now up for review prior to being voted on during the November 2, 2010 General Election this fall.  There are three proposed amendments on the table:

Back on April 14th I blogged about the creation and anticipated operation of the Virginia Defective Drywall Correction and Restoration Assistance Fund (the "DDCRAF") via two new provisions to the Code of Virginia patroned by Delegate Oder this session.  If you read that posting you'll recall that the purpose of the DDCRAF is to create a perpetual, non-reverting fund to facilitate the remediation of property impacted by the use of "Defective Drywall" in residential construction, and I promised to find out whether funding was lined up for the DDCRAF yet.  Delegate Oder's office has been very responsive and helpful in explaining how they envision funding to come through for the DDCRAF.