Virginia and Land Use Law
Land use and zoning is an area of the law that affects us all, usually without even knowing it. The focus of land use law and its origins are well-settled, and Virginia case law outlines the purpose is “to promote the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community, to protect and conserve the value of buildings, and encourage the most appropriate use of the land.”
City of Richmond v. Board of Supervisors of Henrico County, 199 Va. 679, 686, 101 S.E.2d 641, 646 (1958); see also Southern Railway Co. v. City of Richmond, 205 Va. 699, 707, 139 S.E.2d 82, 88 (1964) (“the purpose of zoning is in general two-fold: to preserve the existing character of an area by excluding prejudicial uses, and to provide for the development of the several areas in a manner consistent with the uses for which they are suited”).
Use and Zoning Laws
In essence, land use and zoning laws regulate or restrict the use of real property throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. By statute the objectives of zoning include (§ 15.2-2200):
Improve the public health, safety, convenience, and welfare of its citizens.
Plan for the future development of communities to the end that transportation systems be carefully planned.
Develop new community centers with adequate highways, utilities, health, educational, and recreational facilities.
Recognize the need for mineral resources and the needs of agriculture, industry, and business in future growth.
Provide residential areas with healthy surroundings for family life.
Preserve agricultural and forestal land.
Assure that the growth of the community is consonant with the efficient and economical use of public funds.
When to Hire Legal Representation
Typically, individuals will interact with municipal or local staff to address land use and zoning concerns through applications, permits, and other filings. Generally, in the event of contested land use matters, it is necessary to appear in front of a board or in some cases as a local Board of Supervisors. This can be a daunting task that some litigants are not equipped to handle, and need counsel.
Your Local Legal Experts
Whether you are the owner of residential property and are in need of applicable permitting to build an additional structure, or a commercial property owner in need of rezoning to attract a new buyer of a parcel, Ashwell & Ashwell can help you navigate the system and identify the points of focus in order to ensure your success. As active members of the community, Ashwell & Ashwell can identify the strengths and weaknesses of any matter and assist you in resolving land use matters.