Articles Posted in Virginia Supreme Court

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In 1957, special commissioners, appointed in a partition suit, conveyed to Wilkinson an 18.35-acre tract adjoining Route 704 in Washington County. In 1961, the State Highway Commissioner instituted condemnation, acquiring a 3.83-acre strip of land through the tract for construction of Interstate Highway I-81, leaving a 4.88-acre parcel north of I-81 that retained frontage on Route 704 and a 9.64-acre parcel south of I-81 that became landlocked. Condemnation commissioners awarded Wilkinson $1450 for the land taken and $2450 for damages to the residue property. After the condemnation, Wilkinson gained access to the landlocked tract for farming purposes by renting a neighboring 18-acre tract now owned by the Cliftons. In 2006, Wilkinson discontinued farming and ceased to rent the Clifton property. In 2008, the Cliftons, having failed to reach an agreement with Wilkinson’s widow for a purchase of the landlocked parcel, terminated her permissive use of the access lane and blocked it. Wilkinson sought a declaratory judgment that she had an easement by necessity. The trial court ruled that she was entitled to an easement by necessity. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that the tract did not become landlocked by a conveyance from a former owner severing a former unity of title, so no implied grant of a right of ingress and egress arose. View "Clifton v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Angstadt acquired a Fredericksburg parcel, identified on the tax map as a single lot. City records indicated that in 1942 it had been listed as two separate “tax parcels.” In 2008, Angstadt obtained a survey, which drew lines that corresponded to the boundaries of the two parcels shown in 1942. Angstadt recorded the survey, but did not submit it for approval as a subdivision, and subsequently transferred the two purported lots to his company, PBU, by separate deeds. PBU conveyed one lot, containing an apartment building, to Nejati and the other, undeveloped, lot to Stageberg. The Zoning Administrator concluded that a house could not be built because the undeveloped lot did not exist as a separate lot, pursuant to Code § 15.2-2254 and the city code. After exhausting administrative remedies and reaching a settlement with the title insurance company, Stageberg filed a quiet title action against Nejati, alleging that the legal effect of the 2008 deeds from PBU was to create a tenancy in common of the undivided parcel acquired by Angstadt in 2005. The trial court held that the claimed estates in severalty were impermissible because they would circumvent the requirements for a valid subdivision and concluded that the parties were tenants in common of the whole property. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed, noting that the deeds unambiguously described the property conveyed and that the parties own the property in severality. View "Nejati v. Stageberg" on Justia Law

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In 1998, Norfolk approved the Hampton Boulevard Redevelopment Project created by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority pursuant to Code § 36-49, which authorizes such an authority to "adopt a redevelopment plan for a designated redevelopment area to address blighted areas" and Code § 36-51(A), which authorizes localities to approve redevelopment plans. The approval was based on a redevelopment study which determined that the area was blighted due to incompatible land uses, disrepair, environmental risks, demographic changes, and high crime rates. Properties were classified as good, fair, or poor; about 20 percent were classified as poor. The area was selected to assist in the expansion of Old Dominion University, immediately adjacent to the Redevelopment Project. Challenges to individual condemnations were rejected and a trial court upheld the finding of blight. In 2010 the Authority initiated condemnation of PKO’s apartment building. PKO appealed the adverse decision. The Virginia Supreme Court held that the court erred in permitting the Authority to acquire PKO's property after the effective date of the statutory limitation added by Code § 1-219.1, which provides that property taken for condemnation must itself be blighted at the time the petition for condemnation is filed. The limitation applies to all redevelopment and housing authorities operating pursuant to redevelopment plans adopted prior to January 1, 2007. It does not refer to the filing of a petition for condemnation or the institution of the acquisition of property, but instead limits the "ability of a redevelopment and housing authority ... to acquire property." View "PKO Ventures, LLC v. Norfolk Redev. & Housing Auth." on Justia 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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The Caroline County Board of Supervisors issued a special exception permit that approved the use of land adjacent to the Rappahannock River for a sand and gravel mining operation. Complainants, the Friends of the Rappahannock and several local landowners and one lessee, challenged the issuance of the permit by filing this declaratory judgment action. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding that Complainants lacked standing to bring the suit because the claims alleged were not supported by sufficient facts and because the allegations did not show a loss of a personal or property right different from that "suffered by the public generally." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not erroneously apply the aggrieved party standard in determining standing in this case; and (2) based on the insufficiency of allegations in their complaint, the individual complainants did not have standing to proceed. View "Friends of the Rappahannock v. Caroline County Bd. of Supervisors" 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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In 2009, the City Council revoked a blanket special exception permitting two business establishments (the Establishments) operating in the City to operate as "entertainment establishments" serving alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption and denied their individual applications for special exceptions to continue such operations. The City later filed a complaint requesting that the Establishments be permanently enjoined from selling or serving alcohol or providing entertainment in their businesses. The Establishments filed a separate complaint and petition for appeal, asserting that the City Council's actions impaired their vested rights and that the manner in which the Council executed these actions violated their statutory notice and due process rights. The circuit court denied the relief requested by the Establishments and granted the City's request for injunctive relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Establishments did not acquire any vested rights under Va. Code 15.2-2307 or Va. Code 15.2-2311(C); and (2) because the Establishments had actual notice of and actively participated in the City Council meeting, any statutory notice issues were waived and their constitutional rights were not violated. View "Norfolk 102, LLC v. City of Norfolk" 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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Three fitness clubs filed declaratory judgment actions challenging the lease of public property by the City of Charlottesville to the Piedmont Family YMCA and a use agreement governing the leased property entered into between the City, Albemarle County, and the YMCA. The circuit courts of the City and County sustained the County Board of Supervisors' and City Council's demurrers to the actions. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the circuit courts and dismissed the declaratory judgment actions, holding that the circuit courts did not have authority to exercise jurisdiction because none of the claims asserted in the declaratory judgment actions presented a justiciable controversy. View "Charlottesville Fitness Club Operators Ass'n v. Albemarle County Bd. of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the circuit court erred when it found that a county subdivision did not violate a restrictive covenant requiring compliance with the county's subdivision ordinance in effect in 1997. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in ruling that the county's 1997 subdivision ordinance did not incorporate the requirements of its 1997 zoning ordinance by implication; but (2) erred when it refused to consider claims that the subdivision violated certain provisions of the 1997 subdivision ordinance not specifically referenced in the amended complaint. View "Fein v. Payandeh" on Justia Law