Loudoun County has approved actions to avoid the new proffer restrictions that become effective on July 1, 2016.  On June 23, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to create three new “small area comprehensive plans” comprising what is now the Suburban Policy Area, where most rezonings are expected.  Each small area plan will encompass one of the planned Metrorail stations in the County.  Under the new proffer bill, the restrictions that prohibit many of the proffers Loudoun has requested in the past do not apply to rezonings subject to such small area plans.

The Board has set a schedule for adoption of the new small area plans in October.  This schedule doesn’t allow for much community engagement, so the contents of the plan are likely to look very much like the existing Revised General Plan.  Don’t expect much activity on rezonings filed after July 1 until these new Small Area Plans are adopted.  The Board resolution prohibits county officials from discussing proffers related to new applications until the small area plans are done.

Proposed New Small Area Plans

Item 04 Resolution to Administer New Proffer Legislation

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.

SliverLineCPAM_Page_5The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors initiated the plan amendment process for properties around the two Loudoun Metro stations on March 17.  The board’s motion included plan boundaries, shown above, and a detailed schedule leading to adoption of a plan amendment in November 2016.  The eight phase process will allow landowners to present ideas for future development.

The county planning staff is recommending adoption of a form-based code to regulate development within the small area plan, along with urban design guidelines and recommendations for changes to the Countywide Transportation Plan.  Staff noted it intends to have Shellhorn Road and adjacent roads reflect the alignments previously endorsed by the Board.

Stakeholder meetings will begin in April and interested property owners need to engage early.


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



Loudoun Comp Plan


The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors initiated the process for a New Comprehensive Plan on March 1 and directed staff to present a Plan Charter to the Transportation and Land Use Committee for its consideration and recommendation for endorsement by the full Board of Supervisors.  This will be the first major re-write in 16 years.

The focus of the new Comp Plan will be on eastern Loudoun.  During discussion most of the Supervisors stated their intention to leave the Rural Policy Area and most of the Transition Policy Area (TPA) alone.  Supervisor Buffington (Blue Ridge) stated that he is only willing to discuss changes to the TPA to reflect what has already happened on the ground and not to increase development.  Changes were discussed to revitalize Sterling and parts of Leesburg, grow the Tech Corridor and review outdated Keynote Employment areas.

The planning process is projected to take 18 – 24 months and will include a stakeholder group.  Other details will be included in the Charter document that will be presented by staff to the Board Transportation and Land Use Committee on March 11.

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When you begin the process of strategizing a potential investment property you may consider many factors including the zoning classification.  Is it zoned commercial, residential or industrial?  What are the height and density constraints?  What uses are permitted by-right versus by special permit?  You may have a vision for the parcel that is dependent on the property’s zoning classification.  However, generally speaking, you don’t have a right to the land’s current zoning classification.  A locality can amend the zoning ordinance at any time and you may be stuck with the new classification unless you have vested rights in the land use.  Which begs the question: how do your rights become vested? Continue Reading Your Property, Your (Vested) Rights?

Gramercy DistrictAshburn Station






The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved changes to the Loudoun Station Zoning District needed to start construction of the Ashburn (Route 772) Silver Line Metro Station at its last meeting in December 2015.  The proffer and concept plan amendments authorize a new commuter parking garage, transit connector bridge and expansion of the planned Kiss and Ride and bus loop adjacent to the station.

As part of its action, the Board relieved phasing requirements that would have halted residential construction until the desired mix of office and commercial was delivered.  In changing the phasing, the Board members expressed confidence that non-residential development will happen at the Metro sites.  Board Chairman York stated that residential will help create the demand for commercial and provide riders for Metro when it opens in 2020.

The Board action also recognized the divided ownership of the Loudoun Station Zoning District by approving separate concept plans for the Comstock-owned portion of Loudoun Station and the Gramercy District.  Comstock and Gramercy are expected to file Final Development Plans for the next phases of Loudoun Station in 2016. 22 Capital Partners, LLC is the lead investor and Manager of Gramercy District. Jonathan Rak and Lori Greenlief represented Gramercy in this approval.