Blog Archives

D.C. Council Considers Changes to Condominium Warranty Adjudication Process

If the COVID-19 pandemic was not already difficult enough on the D.C. real estate development community, recent proposed legislation by the D.C. Council might make developing condominiums in the city more challenging. On September 17, 2020, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization held a public hearing on two bills that will impact the processing and adjudication of structural warranty claims for the District’s condominium buildings: The Condominium Warranty Claims Clarification Amendment Act of 2020 (Bill 23-0623) (Claims Clarification Act) and the Condominium Warranty Amendment Act of 2020 (Bill 23-0601) (Warranty Amendment Act). The Claims Clarification Act, which was generally supported by members of the development community, proposes a formal process to resolve condominium warranty claims. Specifically, when

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Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Issues Fines to Restaurants and Bars Violating Social Distancing Measures

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during his testimony before a Senate subcommittee on September 16 that wearing face masks may be more effective than a vaccine at protecting against COVID-19. What is surprising is the authority tasked with enforcing public health requirements for face masks in the District–the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. About The Authors

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Zoning Commission Approves Six-Month Extension of Orders Expiring Through December 31, 2020

As part of the initial flurry of administrative and regulatory changes in response to the ongoing pandemic, the Zoning Commission (Commission) took emergency action to approve a text amendment to the Zoning Regulations extending the validity of approval orders that otherwise would expire between April 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The amendment applies to orders from the Board of Zoning Adjustment approving a special exception or variance as well as orders from the Commission approving a first-stage planned unit development or any contested case such as a consolidated planned unit development.  About The Author

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Board of Zoning Adjustment Reverses Zoning Administrator’s Interpretation on Multiple Dwelling Conversions in the RA-1 and RA-6 Zones

On July 1, 2020, the Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board) reversed a decision by the Zoning Administrator (ZA) allowing the by-right conversion of an existing dwelling unit into an eight-unit apartment house in the RA-1 zone.   The crux of the appeal in BZA Case 20226 concerns the ZA’s interpretation of Subtitle U §§ 401.1 and 421.1 in the Zoning Regulations, which govern multiple dwelling uses in the RA zones. Under Subtitle U § 401.1, multiple dwelling uses are permitted as a matter-of-right in all RA zones except for the RA-1 and RA-6 zones. Whereas, in the RA-1 and RA-6 zones, Subtitle U § 421.1 dictates that special exception relief is required for “all new residential developments, except those comprising

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Summary of DCRA Business Licensing Virtual Meeting on COVID-19 Impacts to Operations

The District of Columbia’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) – the agency that, among other tasks, issues building permits and business licenses – conducted a virtual meeting on April 15, 2020. More than 500 residents and business owners submitted their business licensing questions online during the meeting so that DCRA staff could respond in real time. While the building at 1100 4th Street SW is closed during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, DCRA has remained open for business. DCRA staff are working remotely –likely through at least May 15, 2020 – and are responding to emails. This move to a remote work environment has resulted in the following important changes at DCRA: About The Author

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Important Update to the Office of Zoning Operations During the COVID-19 Emergency

As reported in this blog, on March 20, 2020, the District of Columbia’s Zoning Commission (the commission) and the Board of Zoning Adjustment (the BZA) suspended all public hearings and public meetings. But, in a glimmer of positive news, the District’s Office of Zoning has announced that the Commission and the BZA will start virtual public meetings this month. The commission’s first virtual meeting will be on April 27, and the BZA’s first virtual meeting will be on April 29. All virtual meetings will be held via WebEx, and the Office of Zoning’s website says that “instructions on how to join will be made available in the coming days.” Under the Zoning Regulations, the commission and the BZA conduct public

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Fairfax County’s Response to COVID-19

Part one in a series, we will examine the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the Fairfax County, Va., commercial real estate development community.  The below provides insight into the status of critical Fairfax agencies as of March 25, 2020. About The Authors

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COVID-19 Impact on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals (“Court of Appeals” or “Court”) is making significant operational changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected in the March 23, 2020, Order entered by Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby. The change to Court procedures follows suit with many appellate courts throughout the country. Last week, the United States Supreme Court announced it would postpone oral arguments through its session ending on April 1, 2020. The nation’s highest court has not postponed oral arguments in over 100 years – since the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. The Court of Appeals will close the Historic Courthouse Building and cancel all oral arguments scheduled through May 31, 2020.  Cancelled cases will be decided without oral argument unless

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Status of D.C. Agencies Handling Commercial Real Estate Development Issues as of March 23

This post is part one in a series that will examine the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the Washington, D.C. commercial real estate development community.  Whether you are in the middle of construction or at the beginning of project due diligence, COVID-19 will impact all agencies in the District. Indeed, with many District of Columbia agencies teleworking, covered by limited staff, or closed altogether, owners, landlords, and developers may feel that they are in unchartered waters as they work to navigate the regulatory, entitlement, and permitting process.   To help alleviate confusion and to identify which agencies are plugging along, and where backlogs may be created, below is a summary status of critical agencies in the District

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DC Office of Zoning Announces Six COVID-19 Changes to Business-As-Usual

The District of Columbia’s Office of Zoning (“OZ”)  – the independent agency that, among other tasks, accepts development applications to the District’s Zoning Commission (the “Commission”) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (the “BZA”) – remains open for business in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, though all staff members are teleworking until at least April 27. The move to a remote work environment has resulted in the following important changes: All pending Commission and BZA hearings and decision dates have been suspended until at least April 27. Cases are being postponed in the order in which they were scheduled; e.g.,  a hearing scheduled for March 18 (the first hearing date after the suspension) will be heard on the first hearing

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Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use

Cozen O’Connor has represented residential, commercial, retail, and industrial builders in the development and redevelopment of building lots and millions of square feet of real estate. Our team handles every aspect of the zoning, land use, and development approvals process, from obtaining building permits and variances to negotiating stormwater management and traffic plans.

Head of the DC Zoning Group & Blog Editor