Contributed By McGuireWoods LLP
Based on its enacted local ordinances, each local jurisdiction will feature distinct documentary and procedural requirements for subdivisions, amendments to the zoning ordinance, and development permits, with a local lexicon of established terms to match. In practice, a project will typically be entitled either through a “by right” process, wherein a development is allowed under existing local zoning rules and is processed by that locality as an administrative matter, or as a discretionary act of the local government. By right entitlements are generally not subject to public input or public hearings.
Discretionary approvals are typically the more time-intensive and costly of entitlements to obtain. The Virginia Code sets out mandatory notice provisions in § 15.2-2204, and others. Depending on the specific nature of the development proposal, a discretionary approval may include significant fees and public hearing appearances before one or several local bodies, and in limited circumstances can involve the negotiation of contributions or other proffers to offset the public cost of proposed development.