Washington, DC asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: I want to petition for an increase lot size requirements in an R1 zone neighborhood. How do i go about doing this?

I live on Blue Mountain in Front Royal, Va. We are zoned R1 and the neighborhood is located in a Sanitary District. Through a FOIA, I have pulled permits for various lots around the area and these fly by night builders are building on expired permits. What can a citizen do to increase lot size requirements (currently set a .5 acres) for the community -hopefully, making it tougher for builders to build here. Also, who at the state level, can support and investigate these violations? This is a small town and these builders have a lot of pull in this area. Thank you.

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Changing zoning to up-zone property owned by someone else is going to be an uphill battle. There are tricks and skills, but it isn't going to be accomplished inexpensively, and it isn't going to happen based on an Internet-explored plan on a pro se budget. You need to sit down with a Virginia real estate lawyer, who will need to spend time reviewing the current zoning, the putatively expired permits, the facts about the offending construction, and the political environment. It is most likely that the more economical and more feasible answer will be enforcement of current law rather than up-zoning, but I have seen up-zoning succeed... rarely.

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