Our Very Own John Foote is Inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame

John Foote - Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame

As many people who have had the pleasure of working with him already know, John Foote loves what he does and brings that passion and high level of energy to all of his clients and cases. John has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of municipal and zoning law in Virginia. His practice covers much of the Commonwealth and, as a result, our clients benefit from his expertise, unparalleled reputation, and relationships with community leaders, legislators, and decision makers throughout the state. We are very proud to announce his induction into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame, our mini-version of “Cooperstown, New York” for Virginia lawyers. This honor validates that our high opinion of John is also shared by his peers across Virginia.

For those who have not had the pleasure of working with John, he is experienced in all relevant legal areas affecting land use and zoning in Virginia, including federal regulations of wetlands and waters of the United States, the state regulation of Chesapeake Bay Preservation areas and storm-water management, and historic preservation. John teaches and has written extensively in the area of land use and local government, and is the author of the seminal Virginia handbook on Planning and Zoning.

As our senior litigator in both state and federal courts, John has argued more than twenty cases before the Virginia Supreme Court. Those cases have led to some of the most significant and influential land use and zoning decisions authored by the Court.

In addition to his effective advocacy, John has also shared his vast wealth of knowledge with, and mentored, numerous lawyers during his career. The list of his pupils includes not only attorneys in private practice, but also community leaders, public servants, and judges.

Prior to joining Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh in 1999, John served as the County Attorney for Prince William County, Virginia, from 1982 until 1989, and previously as the Deputy County Attorney from 1977 until 1982. In both positions he served as the County’s chief litigator. In 1989, he transitioned to private practice with Hazel and Thomas. Ten years later, he joined us, and we have had the extremely good fortune of being able to work with John and learn from him on a daily basis.

John is consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America for Land Use and Zoning law, Land Use & Zoning Litigation, Municipal Litigation, Municipal Law, and Real Estate Law. He was named Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in 2016. Virginia Business magazine recognized John to the Legal Elite in Real Estate/Land Use Law list in 2016 and 2020. John’s peers voted and named him as a Super Lawyer in Thompson Reuters’ Super Lawyers magazine in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Please join us in congratulating John on this well-deserved accomplishment.

Arlington County Board Approves Landmark Block Redevelopment

At its March 20 public hearing, the Arlington County Board approved Greystar Real Estate Partners’ proposal to  redevelop the “Landmark Block” located in the Courthouse area of Arlington County with a substantial new residential and retail mixed use building.  The proposal included the sale of County-owned property on the Landmark Block to the applicant, a rezoning of the entire block from the C-3 Zoning District to the C-O Zoning District, and a new special exception site plan for the construction of a 20-story, 423-unit residential building with 17,000 square feet of ground floor retail.  The applications were shepherded through the zoning review and approval process by Nan Walsh, Andrew Painter and Nicholas Cumings from Walsh Colucci.

The project is the first approved under the Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum for “Courthouse Square” that resulted from the Envision Courthouse study in 2015.  It includes a number of crucial improvements including construction of a portion of the “Promenade,” a pedestrian connection running north-south through the neighborhood from Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards all the way to 14th Street North.  The Promenade will function as a linear park that can host events and outdoor markets.  The portion constructed with this project will set a standard for high quality, biophilic design for this new public space.  The project will also make significant contributions to the development of the future Civic Square park, construct on-site affordable housing, preserve historic facades, implement numerous green building measures, and construct a number of transportation improvements in the surrounding area.

At the hearing, Nicholas Cumings, representing Greystar, remarked that the wide range of benefits provided will immediately transform this neighborhood and provide engaging and inviting new public spaces and connectivity to this centrally located block, and that the project, as the first approved under the new plan, will be an example for future development and set a standard for this corner of Arlington.

Erin L. Swisshelm Joins the Firm

Erin L. Swisshelm joins the firm as an associate for the Land Use & Zoning practice group in the Loudoun office. Prior to joining the firm, Erin was an Assistant County Attorney at the Frederick County Attorney’s office in Winchester, Virginia. Prior to working at the Frederick County Attorney’s office, Erin worked as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Erin attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Erin is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. In her spare time, she enjoys CrossFit and cooking. Before the pandemic, she loved seeing live music. Welcome, Erin!

Land Use Attorney Jonelle M. Cameron Named Shareholder

Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh is pleased to announce that Jonelle M. Cameron has been named a Shareholder of the firm effective January 1, 2021.

Jonelle Cameron joined the firm in 2013 as a member of the firm’s land use and zoning practice group in the Prince William office. Her practice focuses on land use and zoning matters in Prince William County, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, the Town of Haymarket, and the Town of Occoquan.

Jonelle has successfully represented national and regional developers, local businesses and religious institutions in need of rezoning, special use permits, comprehensive plan amendments, zoning verifications (non-conforming uses), appeals/variances, land use and easement agreements, and due diligence in regards to office, retail, industrial, mixed-use, and residential matters. Jonelle assists clients in all phases of the entitlement process. Before joining Walsh Colucci, Jonelle served as an extern at the District of Columbia Housing Authority where she worked on projects relating to real estate and contracts, procurement, issues pertaining to the disposition and acquisition of public housing properties, and drafting, negotiating and reviewing documents related to real estate development and finance transactions.

“It is a privilege to welcome Jonelle into this new role as a shareholder of the firm,” said Dave Bomgardner, shareholder at the firm. “Her land use and zoning experience in Prince William County and the surrounding districts will continue to benefit the firm and our clients in this expanded role. Jonelle’s successful past performance is an indicator of her promising future as a Shareholder.”

​“Jonelle is not only a skilled and accomplished attorney; she is highly respected in the community and the firm,” says land use attorney and shareholder John Foote. “She brings character, integrity, clarity, and thoughtfulness to every decision. Jonelle’s elevation to shareholder is well deserved and I look forward to working with her closely to better serve our clients and the communities in which we live.”  ​

Fairfax County Board Approves Interim Uses for Key Tysons Site

In 2014, the Dittmar Company received rezoning approval for its 5.3 acre property at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Westpark Drive in the heart of Tysons, within an easy walk to the Greensboro Metro Station. Site of the Best Western Westpark Hotel, the land was rezoned to the Planned Tysons Corner (PTC) District and approved for a new hotel and two residential towers with up to 1300 dwelling units, referred to as Westpark Plaza. Since the approval, the hotel was demolished and the site used for parking and staging associated with the construction of The Boro located immediately adjacent to the site, as well as commercial off-street parking for Metro users. Last month the Board of Supervisors approved new interim uses for the site in advance of its ultimate redevelopment.

The new uses include new vehicle storage and a reading-themed pop-up park. The interim park includes a lending library, book-themed art, outdoor seating, painted asphalt, alphabet stepping stones, a shade structure, and space for food trucks. Walsh Colucci senior planner, Elizabeth Baker, represented Dittmar on the application. LandDesign, landscape architects, designed the multi-generational pop-park to enliven the Westpark Drive frontage and become a new amenity for residents and workers in the area. This unique theme was chosen as it reflects the commitment of Dittmar to contribute to a new Tysons community library with future redevelopment, and offers a park unlike any other planned for Tysons. The Tysons Partnership, a public-private organization with the goal of advancing the evolution of Tysons into an urban center, also participated in the pop-up park planning.

Given the number of large approvals in Tysons and the realities of market conditions, interim uses are becoming important elements in the transformation of Tysons. Accommodating these uses either with an original rezoning approval or as an amendment helps ensure productive uses now and into the future.

Courtesy of LandDesign

Image Source: LandDesign

Virginia Adopts Permanent Standard in Response to COVID-19

The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board recently voted to approve a permanent safety and health standard (“Permanent Standard”) requiring employers to take steps to prevent workers from contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  The Permanent Standard provides updates to the Temporary Emergency Standards that were adopted on July 15, 2020. The Permanent Standard became effective on January 27, 2021 and will remain in place at least until any state of emergency related to COVID-19 is lifted.

The Permanent Standard maintains many controls put in place to protect employees from workplace exposure, such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, hand hygiene procedures, frequent cleaning of high contact surfaces. The Permanent Standard also also maintains the various classifications of job related exposure risks: “very high”, “high”, “medium” or “lower”.  However, some revisions have gone into the various definitions within the standards, and the requirements of the controls.  For example, the Permanent Standard now requires employers with hazards or job-task risks classified as “very high,” “high,” or “medium” to implement certain ventilation controls to air-handling systems under the employer’s control. The requirements include increasing airflow supply to occupied spaces (provided it does not create a greater hazard), routinely clean and inspect filters, and generate “clean-to-less clean” air movements by reevaluating the positioning of supply and exhaust air diffusers and/or dampers.

The Permanent Standard contains several significant changes of which all employers should be aware including, among other things:

  • While “exposure” is still not a strictly defined term- the Permanent Standard makes it clear that “duration and frequency of exposure” considers how long and how often an employee is potentially exposed to COVID-19 disease under both acute and chronic situations.
  • Explaining face shields are not considered a face covering and can be worn only if a face covering cannot be worn due to a medical condition.
  • Scaling back the requirement to report all positive COVID-19 cases to the Virginia Department of Health. Instead, employers will be required only to report to the Virginia Department of Health “outbreaks” of two or more cases of their own employees at the workplace within a 14-day period.
  • Eliminating the test-based return-to-work requirement and changing the time-based return-to-work requirement from 10 days with three symptom-free days to 10 days with only one symptom-free day (consistent with CDC guidance).
  • Eliminating the requirement for employers to comply with respiratory standards when employees travel together in work vehicles due to shortages of N-95 and other respirators.

The Permanent Standard does not address COVID-19 vaccines, or whether employers can require their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Although the Permanent Standard is similar to the Temporary Standard, employers in Virginia should take the opportunity to review and revise their existing policies and procedures as necessary regarding COVID-19 to ensure compliance with the Permanent Standard.

Virginia employers that fail to comply with the Permanent Standard are subject to fines up to $12,726 for serious violations and $127,254 for willful violations.

Covered employers  have until March 26, 2021 to re-train employees on the Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan required under §16 VAC 25‐220‐70 (for “very high”, “high” and “medium” exposure risk level employees). Covered employers will  still need to train employees on the standard itself under §16 VAC 25‐220‐80.E.

Any employer wanting assistance with reviewing the Permanent Standard and/or revising their Office Policies/Protocols and/or Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plans should contact shareholder Wendy Alexander at 703-680-4664 for assistance.

Senator Jeremy McPike Celebrates the Life of Peter Michael Dolan, Jr.

On February 11, 2021, the Virginia State Senate, at the behest of Sen. Jeremy McPike (Senate District 29), passed the following Resolution honoring our departed friend and brother, Peter M. Dolan. The Walsh Colucci family is grateful to the Senator, and indeed the entire Senate.

WHEREAS, Peter Michael Dolan, Jr., an accomplished attorney and beloved member of the Prince William County community, died on January 5, 2021; and

WHEREAS, Peter “Pete” Dolan graduated from Williston Northampton School in 1986 and Hamilton College in 1990 and worked briefly as a zoning administrator and land use planner early in his career; and

WHEREAS, Pete Dolan later earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School in 1996, serving as lead articles editor for the school’s law review and graduating cum laude; and

WHEREAS, Pete Dolan began his distinguished law career in Colorado and for the last 19 years had worked with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley and Walsh, P.C., in Prince William County, where he was most recently a managing shareholder and leader of his firm’s land use and zoning practice group; Pete Dolan contributed greatly to the growth and development of Prince William County in recent years; and

WHEREAS, Pete Dolan’s extensive service in the community included roles as chairman of the Board of Directors for the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce and as member of the Board of Directors for the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, the Board of Directors of the Boys& Girls Club Prince William County, and the Prince William Design and Construction Standards Manual (DCSM)/Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee; and

WHEREAS, Pete Dolan also gave generously of his time and talents as a guest lecturer at George Mason University, as a moderator at several industry events, and as a volunteer with myriad service and charitable organizations; and

WHEREAS, Pete Dolan will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by his loving wife of 26 years, Karen; his children, Katherine and Erin; his parents, Peter, Sr., and Carole; and numerous other family members and friends; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of Virginia hereby note with great sadness the loss of Peter Michael Dolan, Jr., an esteemed attorney from Manassas whose unwavering loyalty, integrity, and compassion for others was an inspiration to all who knew him; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of Peter Michael Dolan, Jr., as an expression of the Senate of Virginia’s respect for his memory.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Approves Belfort Park Drive Townhomes

Walsh Colucci assisted the applicant, Davis Drive, LLC, in the recent approval of a rezoning and zoning modification application for a 1.98-acre site to accommodate the development of 20 townhomes. The site is located on the north side of Belfort Park Drive between Glenn Drive and Davis Drive. The recently approved General Plan designates this property as in the Suburban Compact Neighborhood Place of the Suburban Policy Area. The General Plan calls for this place type to provide opportunities to develop small infill parcels near traditional suburban neighborhoods. This place type envisions a mix of housing types, with townhomes listed as a core use.

The development of 20 townhomes at this location will provide a complementary addition to the surrounding community in the Sterling area. The future residents of these townhomes will enjoy an active recreation space approximately 8,000 square feet in size that will include garden features with various trees and shrubs, picnic tables, and park benches. There is also an extensive pedestrian network that the residents may use to visit the commercial areas in the vicinity. During the rezoning process, several challenges arose prior to the approval of the application. In particular, County staff and the Planning Commission expressed concerns regarding the adequacy of parking for the project and the applicant’s plan to convert the existing and currently VDOT-maintained stormwater management pond located on the property to an underground stormwater detention facility to be maintained by the homeowners’ association. Additionally, neighboring residents from the adjacent community voiced their concerns about the application.

The applicant addressed these concerns by hosting multiple community meetings and agreeing to proffer commitments that mitigate the impacts of the application. Specifically, the applicant agreed to increase the contribution amount of seed money to the homeowners’ association for the maintenance of the underground stormwater facility; increase the amount of affordable housing units; provide an enhanced vegetative buffer along the northern boundary of the property to mitigate visual impacts for the adjacent community; increase the amount of parking spaces for a total of five parking spaces per townhome unit; and install traffic improvements for the intersection of Belfort Park Drive and Glenn Drive.

With these approvals, a vibrant residential piece will be added to this area which will help fulfill Loudoun County’s vision for quality design and affordable housing. The development will provide a compatible addition to the existing neighborhood and help address the spectrum of unmet housing needs in Loudoun County. Through its ability to work collaboratively with County representatives, the applicant was able to find a path forward and gain near unanimous support for the Belfort Park Drive Townhomes project from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on November 17, 2020.

Loudoun County land use attorney Sashenka Brauer led the development team through the approval process. For more information about this project or to learn more about our Land Use & Zoning practice please contact sbrauer@thelandlawyers.com.

 

 

 

Image Source: Urban, Ltd.

Stonebrook Rezoning Approved in Westfields

Image Source: Stanly Martin Companies

 

Originally set amidst a stream-laden landscape of rolling fields, and woodlands, creating an idyllic suburban environment, the 1,100-acre Westfields office park has largely built out in accordance with its original vision. Today, the heavily-landscaped corporate center is a job hub and a major economic driver for Fairfax County. Recent years, however, have witnessed the emergence of several challenges, including newer mixed-use office locations, and a lack of mix of uses, pedestrian connections, and community identity.

Sensing the need to diversify Westfields’ land uses and attract new investment to western Fairfax County, the Board of Supervisors in May 2019 adopted amendments to the comprehensive plan policies for Land Unit J of the Dulles Suburban Center. The amendments, which built upon an earlier 2016 Urban Land Institute study, permit retail and residential uses within Westfields to help keep it competitive as a jobs center relative to newer mixed-use centers and submarkets.

A major step in the furtherance of the new Land Unit J policies came on November 17, 2020, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved Stanley Martin Companies’ Stonebrook residential rezoning. The 12-acre Stonebrook site, located at the intersection of Westfields Boulevard and Newbrook Drive, is adjacent to the recently-completed retail offerings at Commonwealth Centre.

The rezoning approved 134 residential units, including 14 townhomes and 120 two-over-two (stacked townhomes). Though largely surrounded by single-use conventional suburban office and industrial buildings, Stonebrook will introduce an urban, pedestrian-friendly, walkability framework in proximity to retail and employment uses.

Housing affordability figured prominently into Stanley Martin’s overall approach. The project’s introduction of stacked townhomes to Westfields will provide a critical “missing middle” unit type that provides entry level homeownership choices. Stonebrook will also feature five affordable dwelling units and 11 workforce dwelling units (“WDUs”) that will be dispersed throughout the neighborhood and will be for-sale units—something Fairfax County has rarely seen since the 2007 inception of the WDU policy. Stanley Martin also agreed to lower its WDU income tiers, such that half of the WDUs will be provided at the 70 percent AMI tier, and half at the 80 percent AMI tier.

Given the site’s highly-visible and prominent location, Stanley Martin placed great emphasis on the project’s overall design. In an attempt to ensure greater opportunities for visual connections to open space, for example, the layout seeks to celebrate the site’s natural and visual elements by enhancing the RPA, preserving mature canopy trees, and preserving bottomland forest species.

To foster a pedestrian-friendly environment, the project will feature new urbanist-inspired high-quality urban architecture with the rear-loaded garages that will not be visible from public streets. A series of sidewalks will be constructed to connect residents and visitors across the site and to all open space areas. Given Westfield’s historic emphasis on parks and open spaces, the new community will feature a series of multiuse amenities and open spaces for both residents and visitors. This includes a publicly-accessible terraced park adjacent to Westfields Boulevard, pocket parks, interior courtyards, a bicycle service station, a watering station for pedestrians and pets, upgrades to existing trails, and more.

Substantial vegetation and landscaping will be provided along the adjacent pond, and a series of landscaped visual corridors will be created to draw residents and visitors into the site. As a result, Stonebrook will provide more than double the amount of required urban recreational space, nearly double the amount of required open space, 48 percent more tree cover, and will exceed the County’s tree canopy and tree preservation requirements. The project will include more than 75,000 square feet of new plantings, including 50,000 square feet of RPA reforestation.

A key concern with the application was how Stanley Martin would address issues of noise associated with aircraft overflights approaching Dulles International Airport. The property is located within the Board-adopted mapped DNL 60 to 65 dBA noise contours, and Stanley Martin proffered several enforceable noise mitigation and construction commitments that exceed building code requirements, zoning regulations, and similar obligations made in other Westfields applications. This includes designing homes to address peak episodic noise associated with aircraft overflights, post-development interior noise testing, disclosure requirements to initial and subsequent purchasers, marketing materials depicting the noise contour lines, and avigation easements for all homes.

The result of these efforts is a unique project and layout that fulfills the established comprehensive plan vision for Westfields in terms of land use and density, economic development, and hosing attainability. Stonebrook will respond to the increased need for for-sale, urban style housing in the Westfields area and complement the ongoing retail and residential uses at Commonwealth Centre. It will also respond to the increasing preference for residential opportunities in the vicinity of nearby employment uses, and contribute to Westfields’ overall economic vitality.

Image Source: Land Design Consultants

Image Source: Land Design Consultants

 

Image Source: Stanly Martin Companies

Image Source: Stanly Martin Companies