Articles Posted in Government Law

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James and Christine Garner sought side and rear yard variances in connection with a proposed single family home on their property. The City Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted to approve the Garners' application and grant the variances. H. Curtiss Martin and Virginia Drewry, whose property adjoined the Garners' property to the west, appealed. The circuit court upheld the decision of the BZA. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in its judgment because the BZA's decision was contrary to law. Specifically, the Court held that none of the conditions asserted by the Garners to justify their request for a variance satisfied the requirements of section 9.18(b) of the City Charter, which enumerates the conditions and justifications the property owner must show in order for the BZA to authorize a variance. View "Martin v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law

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A limited liability company (Company) filed an application for a special exception to build a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus maintenance facility on a parcel of land in County. A County Board of Supervisors (Board) supervisor disclosed that the supervisor had received campaign contributions from attorneys representing Company, and two other supervisors disclosed that they were principal director and alternate director of WMATA. The Board approved the application. The three supervisors who had made disclosures each voted to approve the application. Plaintiffs filed a complaint (1) seeking a declaratory judgment that the Board's approval of the application was void because Va. Code Ann. 15-2-852(A) required the three supervisors to recuse themselves from consideration of the application, and (2) alleging that the Board's approval of the application was not fairly debatable. The circuit court sustained the Board's demurrer as to the applicability of section 15.2-852(A) and awarded summary judgment to the Board on the remainder of the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its judgment. View "Newberry Station Homeowners Ass'n v. Bd. of Supervisors of Fairfax County" on Justia Law

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The Board of Supervisors of Fluvanna County filed a complaint against Davenport & Company asserting that Davenport, which served as the financial advisor to the Board, knowingly made false representations and used its fiduciary position to persuade the Board to hire Davenport as an advisor regarding the financing of the construction of a new high school. Davenport filed a demurrer to the complaint, which the circuit court granted on the basis that the separation of powers doctrine prevented the court from resolving the controversy because the court would have to inquire into the motives of the Board's legislative decision making. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board effectively waived its common law legislative immunity from civil liability and the burden of litigation, and therefore the circuit court erred in sustaining Davenport's demurrer on these grounds.View "Bd. of Supervisors of Fluvanna County v. Davenport & Co. LLC" on Justia Law

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A real estate developer (Developer), purchased property contained within a proposed sudivision. The County issued to Developer a total of fifty-two building permits, for which Developer paid a proffer fee of $12,000, which was $4,000 more than Developer expected to pay. In 2007, Developer filed an action asking the trial court to declare that the County could not lawfully assess the $4,000 fee. In 2011, after the fee had been paid on all fifty-two permits, the court found that the $4,000 fee was unlawful. In 2008, Developer instituted a restitution action seeking reimbursement of the fees. The trial court consolidated this restitution action and the declaratory judgment action for a bench trial. After ruling in Developer's favor in the declaratory judgment action, the court ruled in the restitution action that Developer was barred from being awarded reimbursement of the unlawful fees because it paid them "voluntarily" within the meaning of the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in holding that Developer's action for reimbursement of the disputed fees was barred under the voluntary payment doctrine.View "D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Bd. of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors disallowed payment on a portion of retirement benefits promised to several retired Albemarle County employees (collectively, Retirees). The benefits promised under the County's Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (VERIP) were partially disallowed due to a miscalculation by a County employee prior to the retirements. The Retirees appealed. The County and Board (hereafter, the County) demurred, arguing that the Retirees failed to comply with Va. Code 15.2-1246 by not serving written notice of their appeal on the clerk of the Board. The circuit court overruled the demurrer and found in favor of Plaintiffs, awarding each of the Retirees the amount of the withheld VERIP stipend that the County claimed would amount to an overpayment if properly calculated under the program. The Supreme Court reversed and entered final judgment in favor of the County, holding that the statutorily required written notice of appeal was insufficient, and accordingly, the circuit court erred in failing to sustain the County's demurrer.View "County of Albemarle v. Camirand" on Justia Law