The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge from a group of Warrenton residents opposed to a proposed mixed-use development on Walker Drive. The group is challenging the legitimacy of the property’s rezoning.
The litigation stopped construction before it could begin.
Their plaintiff’s attorney, Bradley Pollack, of Woodstock, Va., seeks to reverse a Feb. 5 decision by Fauquier County Circuit Court Jeffrey W. Parker in favor of the defendants -- Warrenton Town Council, East Side Investment Group LLC, Springfield Real Properties LLC, Remland LLC and the Walker Drive Investment Group LLC.
Pollack listed six assignments of error in asking the higher court to take the case. The state supreme court found reason to take the case based on three of them:
That the circuit court erred in allowing town council to accept proffered conditions that modified or reduced requirements of the zoning district and that it read a general definition in the state code to control the specific requirements for conditional rezoning in violation of settled rules of statutory interpretation,
That it erred in sustaining demurrers – objections – to an amended complaint involving waivers and modifications. Those waivers and modifications were never presented to the planning commission, which town code says can only be accepted by town council upon recommendation by the planning commission, the plaintiffs argue.
That it erred in ruling the homeowners hadn’t demonstrated a direct impact from approval of a master plan that didn’t show an industrial planned unit development as an integrated, cohesive entity. The plaintiffs argue they weren’t required to demonstrate such an impact.
The plaintiffs originally filed suit in Fauquier County Circuit Court after town council in July 2017 approved a rezoning for 116 apartments and condominiums, shops, restaurants and other commercial tenants. The development also could include a movie theater or bowling alley on a 31-acre tract bordered by East Lee Street, Walker Drive, Academy Drive and U.S. 15/29. Traffic, noise and bright lights from the development were concerns of the residents.
Pollack, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said he has 40 days to file an opening brief, then the other side has time to respond and he could then file a brief in reply.
The court will then set a date to hear arguments from the attorneys.
Pollack said he’s been licensed to practice law in Virginia since 1985 and has argued just one other case in front of the state supreme court.
“It was nice to win it. It was a pretty obscure case only a handful of attorneys care about,” Pollack said.
Reach James Ivancic at firstname.lastname@example.org