Yesterday’s Sun Gazette and the three ways this could end, 7/27/2018

Yesterday’s Sun Gazette had extensive coverage of the controversy around MAC zoning.  Probably the most important thing that I learned is that there are three different ways the current consideration of 444 Maple West could end.  Until I read that article, I only knew of two ways, so I thought it was worth writing this up.  I have yet to find the right part of either Virginia or Town statute that mentions all three ways.

Here’s how I now believe this works.  The Town has 100 days — or so I thought — from the time the zoning application is submitted, to the time the Town either approves or denies it.  If the Town fails to take action, the application is deemed approved.

First, the Town Council could vote to approve or deny the zoning application at the August 20th Town Council meeting.  If denied, the builder would have to wait one year before resubmitting plans.  So if there is some chance of denial, that represents a real risk to the builder.  In this case, because of the protest petition successfully filed by residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, I believe that three no votes by Town Council members will defeat it.  And, as noted above, if they don’t vote, the application passes by default.

Second, the builder could withdraw the application.  That would leave them free to re-submit the application in less than a year.  It is unclear whether that plan would have to be significantly different from the current plan, or even what “significantly different” would mean.

Third, the builder could waive the 100-day limit.  That was a news to me.  If that happens, then debate continues.  This is a good strategy if they merely want to wear down the opposition, but a poor one if opposition appears to be growing.  I have yet to find this provision in law, and I don’t know how long this process can go on if the builder waives the 100-day limit.