This is a follow up to our earlier briefing on the proposed revisions to the “Fairfax Forward process”.   McGuireWoods’ lawyers have been working closely with County leadership and the land use bar to understand the proposed process and offer constructive feedback.  While the proposed Fairfax Forward process does open an additional avenue to propose amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, we remain concerned that the proposed process will only apply to a very narrow set of circumstances and that the proposed timelines are not responsive to the rapidly evolving real estate market.   Public hearings on the proposed amendment are scheduled for April 19th before the Planning Commission and May 16th before the Board of Supervisors.  Beyond this proposed process, we intend to continue to press the County for additional paths to allow for logical and necessary evolution of the Comprehensive Plan.

Fairfax County has jumped into the craft beverage game by creating new zoning rules that make it more attractive for craft beverage production establishments, including breweries, wineries, and distilleries, to operate in the county. The new zoning ordinance provisions were adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 28 and are now in effect.  Under the new ordinance, smaller scale producers are expressly permitted in certain commercial zoning districts and most industrial and planned development zoning districts.  McGuireWoods is proud to have been the only firm that advocated during the public hearing process for additional flexibility in production limits and operations of these types of establishments. Those changes were incorporated into the final approved zoning ordinance amendment.

The maximum permitted annual production varies by zoning district, with a range of between 5,000-20,000 barrels of beer or 5,000-36,000 gallons of distilled spirits, wine, cider, or mead per year. While craft beverage production establishments are permitted by right in many districts, they may still require additional zoning actions in most cases. If a property has existing zoning approvals limiting potential uses, then an amendment to that approval will still be required before a craft beverage production establishment can be opened.

If you have questions regarding how the zoning ordinance impacts your property or if you are looking at potential brewery, distillery, or winery sites in Fairfax County, contact sadams@mcguirewoods for additional information.

Embark Richmond Map

The Embark Richmond Highway Advisory Group met Monday morning (02/27) for its 14th meeting and continued its discussion of staff’s transportation impacts analysis for the proposed bus rapid transit system along US Highway 1.  The Embark Richmond Highway planning process represents a significant opportunity to embrace future transit options and reposition property for density or uses that may not be reflected in the the current Plan.  Staff intends to begin drafting text for the comprehensive plan in this spring, so now is the time to think strategically about specific sites or opportunities that can be addressed in this process.


Chairman Bulova recently created a Community Council on Land Use Engagement to discuss and make recommendations on ways to improve communication with citizens during the land use process. The first meeting was held on February 13 and recommendations are expected by the end of April, 2017.  McGuireWoods is honored to have been asked to participate as a member the council and provide our insight into community engagement.

Members of the council include:

  • Walter Alcorn, Chairman, Hunter Mill District, former Planning Commissioner, Consumer Electronics Association
  • Scott Adams/Lori Greenlief, McGuireWoods (Land Use Attorney/Planner)
  • Matt Bell, Mt. Vernon District
  • Robert Cain, Braddock District
  • Karen Campblin, Sully District
  • Mike Carlin, Springfield District
  • Michael DeLoose, Springfield District
  • Sherry Fisher, Braddock District
  • Deborah Fraser, Mason District
  • Elizabeth John, Dranesville District
  • Barbara Lippa, Sully District
  • Jeffery Longo, Mason District, Sleepy Hollow Manor Citizens Association
  • Sandra Lukic Dapoigny, Braddock District
  • Brad McKinney, Mason District
  • Carrie Nixon, Providence District
  • Kevin O’Neill, Braddock District
  • Vincent Picciano, Braddock District
  • Chris Soule, Lee District
  • Annmarie Swope, Hunter Mill, Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations
  • Fran Wallingford, Providence District

More information the committee can be found at

As the Chair of the Tysons Partnership, I’m pleased to report that on February 2nd the Partnership’s Board of Directors voted to appoint David Diaz as our new President and Executive Director.  David, who is currently the president and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, succeeds to the position left vacant recently by Michael Caplin’s retirement.

We welcome David and his family to our Tysons community.  We look forward to the continued strengthening of our Partnership and the evolution of our “AudaCity”.  View press release.

The Comprehensive Plan is critical to land valuation and redevelopment potential.  Fairfax County has recently rolled out a proposed new process related to the procedural mechanisms for proposing site specific amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.  This process is a successor to the former Area Plan Review (APR) process and the more recent Fairfax Forward process.  This proposed process is in response to a directive by the Board of Supervisors to re-evaluate the Fairfax Forward process.  A summary of the new proposed process, as provided by Fairfax County, can be found at  At first read, the proposed process retains features of both the APR and the Fairfax Forward processes, including the ability to directly nominate property for replanning consideration.  That said, when compared to prior processes, there are meaningful differences in the vetting and evaluation processes that warrant further consideration and examination.  The County has invited feedback from industry representatives and McGuireWoods will be actively participating in those discussions.  Updates on the evolution of this process and the strategic and tactical implications will follow.

Embark Richmond Highway is an ongoing Fairfax County effort to plan greater transit oriented development along the Richmond Highway Corridor. The Embark Richmond Highway planning initiative began in May of 2015. We anticipate staff will recommend creating several bus rapid transit stations along Richmond Highway and plan the area around those stations as Community Business Centers, which would permit a greater level of density than is currently provided for in the Comprehensive Plan. Staff anticipates releasing station area concept plans between April-June 2017, drafting comprehensive plan recommendations between July-September 2017 and bringing the plan before Board of Supervisors in January or February of 2018. If you have property or are exploring opportunities along this portion of the Richmond Highway (see map), please contact us to discuss the particulars of your position. It is imperative that interested property owners engage with the County prior to this summer because it will be difficult to modify draft comprehensive plan recommendations once staff begins releasing them to the public.

Embark Richmond Map



The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a Policy Plan Amendment that will potentially open industrial planned areas County-wide by providing additional FAR for Data Center and Self-Storage uses.  This much needed amendment, which was adopted and developed largely in response to concerns raised by McGuireWoods for a key client, creates a new policy that allows the Board to increase the potential FAR to a 1.0 for these uses based largely on the lower-impact these uses generate in terms of traffic and County services.  The amendment requires a development site be located in an industrially planned and zoned district and meet certain criteria involving transportation, noise mitigation, building design, lot size or parcel consolidation, and site design in order to achieve the greater intensity. The text of the new amendment can be found here:


Please contact any member of the McGuireWoods team if you have questions about how this amendment may apply to a site.

To Fairfax County’s credit, they have collectively recognized the structural shifts that have and are occurring in the commercial office market.  In 2016, the County seated a diverse “Workgroup” to study the issue.  The Workgroup included elected officials (thanks to Supervisor Cook), senior County staff, and industry professionals, including  McGuireWoods.  On December 27th, the County published a forward looking report that identifies a number of innovative policy objectives that are aimed at adding flexibility and efficiency to approvals process so as to give otherwise challenged office and commercial properties new and additional options to be put to productive use in a way that benefits landowners and the County.  These options are potentially wide ranging and include residential and live/work options.  We expect ongoing evolution of these Policies in 2017.  If you would like to know more about this process, next steps and how it can creative opportunity for individual sites, please contact Gregory Riegle at


The Silverline corridor continues to evolve at a rapid pace. On December the 6th McGuireWoods, on behalf of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, secured approval of a comprehensive set of land use approvals that will remake the south side of the Wiehle/Reston East station from an un-amenitized suburban office park to a vibrant mixed use center offering more than 1.4M square feet of residential, office retail and hotel space. The project also features an extensive plazas and gathering spaces along with new bicycle and pedestrian amenities. The project was conceptualized and evolved in close coordination with Fairfax County and community stakeholders and serves the implement the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan that were developed over an extensive five year exercise. The project is also noteworthy in its retention and enhancement of the existing office buildings, further showing that meaningful redevelopment can occur alongside functioning existing uses. For additional information please contact Gregory Riegle at