Virginia Supreme Court Opinions Affecting Local Government Law January 10, 2014

By: Andrew McRoberts, Editor. This was posted Friday, January 10th, 2014

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The Virginia Supreme Court issued new opinions this morning, some of which affect local government law.  Here they are (summaries taken from the Virginia Supreme Court website, click on the Record Number to read opinion):

130210 Board of Supervisors v. Windmill Meadows, LLC 01/10/2014 In interpreting provisions relating to per-unit cash proffers in certain zoning proceedings under Code § 15.2-2303.1:1, on cross-motions for summary judgment in a declaratory judgment action, the circuit court did not err in concluding that subsection (A) of the statute applies to all payments of cash proffers due on or after July 1, 2010 – regardless whether the proffers were agreed to prior to that date. The circuit court erred in awarding attorney’s fees and costs to a nonprofit corporation creating a life-care facility, whose response to the complaint for declaratory judgment opposed the county’s interpretation of the Code provision but did not constitute a successful challenge to any administrative or other action of the county. However, the court did not err in awarding attorney’s fees and costs under Code § 15.2 2303.1:1(C) to certain other property developers whose answers and counterclaims expressly challenged the county’s actions in having accepted certain cash proffer payments during a specified period. The judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings to determine whether the developers are entitled to a further award of attorney’s fees and expenses for this appeal.

130279 Board of Supervisors v. McQueen 01/10/2014 In a declaratory judgment action, the circuit court erred in holding that a landowner acquired a vested right under Code § 15.2-2307 to develop his property as a cluster subdivision pursuant to a county ordinance that was later repealed. A “compliance letter” that the property owner received from a county official, upon which his vesting claim was based, did not constitute a significant affirmative governmental act as required under Code § 15.2-2307 for a land use right to become vested. The judgment of the circuit court is reversed, and final judgment is entered for the county.

130416 Robertson v. Western Va. Water Auth. 01/10/2014 In a suit for negligence relating to a sanitary sewer line that burst, causing property damage, the circuit court erred in ruling that the doctrine of sovereign immunity applies to shield a municipal water authority from liability for the maintenance and operation of a sanitary sewer system. Such an activity is a proprietary function, and the judgment of the circuit court is reversed. The case is remanded for further proceedings.

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