A new Virginia State statute governing what proffers local governments may and may not require of residential developers is set to become effective July 01, 2016. The bill injects a significant amount of legal uncertainty into the proffer process and is highly likely to make the proffer negotiation process even more difficult to navigate as parties attempt to discern the legal significance of the new statute. Fortunately, the statute includes a grandfather clause, meaning it will not apply to any rezoning applications filed prior to July 01, 2016. McGuireWoods has confirmed with Fairfax County staff that they will not be applying the statute’s rules to such applications. For this reason, we strongly recommend property owners considering redevelopment in the medium to near term call us immediately to avoid the ramifications of this new statute.

Last week Governor McAuliffe signed into law a bill adopted by the Virginia General Assembly that will impact the permitted substance of proffered conditions throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia – particularly as related to projects with a residential component.  The new law has the potential to significantly affect the legal positions of landowners and developers and creates new rules for all pending and contemplated proffered land use projects.  In our judgment the new law creates risks, offers some opportunities and raises important procedural considerations for proffered rezonings.  There are also nuanced exceptions to the law that may be applicable in urban or transit oriented areas of many NOVA localities.  In the coming weeks, we expect the localities to issue initial statements and positions concerning their view of the nature and extent of such exceptions.

We and our affiliated McGuireWoods Consulting legislative team have carefully followed the development of this law through the entire legislative process.  Based on our extensive experience with legislation of this type and our well-developed relationships with regulators and decision makers in all of the northern Virginia counties, cities and towns, we have a number of strategic recommendations for clients that have pending or contemplated land use applications.   Please feel free to contact any member of our land use team for further information



Prince William County’s Commercial Development Committee kicked of the new year by discussing goals for 2016 which included concerns related to Section 32-250.71 of the Zoning Ordinance. The section generally requires the undergrounding of all onsite utilities for new projects.  This Section is more than 20 years old and in need of revision.  While the County is working on potential revisions to this section the revision process can take up to a year.  The CDC agreed to propose moving the code section from the ordinance to the Design and Construction Standards Manual (DCSM).  Relocation of the undergrounding requirement to the DCSM will give the County flexibility to waive or adjust this requirement in very unique and limited circumstances.  Meanwhile, the County will continue working on revisions to this requirement.  The Development Ordinance Review Action Committee supports the move as well.  The CDC will begin the process of moving Section 32-250.71 to the DCSM this spring.