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Virginia General Assembly Extends Life of Zoning Approvals

The General Assembly has once again extended the life of various zoning approvals in Virginia.  HB 1697, introduced by Delegate Danny Marshall (R-Danville), extends approval of various zoning permits and plans to July 1, 2020 for plans approved prior to January 1, 2017. All land use plans that are valid and outstanding as of January 1, 2017—including preliminary site plans, final site plans, subdivision plans, rezonings, special use and conditional use plans, and special exceptions—will be subject to the new three-year extension.

The bill initially included a five-year extension, but the Senate amended the bill to include the three-year extension after local governments expressed their opposition to the original bill. The underlying code section, Virginia Code sec. 15.2-2209.1 was originally passed in 2009 in response to the housing crisis, and it included a five-year extension from 2009 to 2014. The statute was amended by the General Assembly in 2011 and 2012. Governor McAuliffe has until March 27th to take action on HB 1697.  It is expected that Governor McAuliffe will sign the legislation into law. You can find the extension legislation here.

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.