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Board of County Supervisors of Prince George County v. McQueen

752 S.E.2d 851 (2014)

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Board of County Supervisors of Prince George County v. McQueen

Virginia Supreme Court

752 S.E.2d 851 (2014)

Facts

John McQueen (plaintiff) sought to develop his property as a cluster subdivision, i.e., a subdivision in which houses are grouped together to preserve open space, under the CLO Cluster Overlay District (CLO ordinance). The CLO ordinance permitted the development of cluster subdivisions as by right. The CLO ordinance comprised general and specific standards. The CLO ordinance required several steps for an application for a cluster subdivision, including a meeting with the zoning administrator and submission of a preliminary plat (i.e., map of the planned subdivision) for approval. After approval of the preliminary plat, the CLO ordinance required submission of a final plat. On May 23, 2008, McQueen, his engineer, and his attorney met with Pamela Thompson, a deputy zoning administrator, to discuss McQueen’s proposed development and the draft of a preliminary plat. Soon after the meeting, McQueen had not received an approval letter as he expected, so he filed a declaratory-judgment action to determine whether he was entitled to develop his property as by right or under a special exception. Around June 19, McQueen received a compliance letter from Thompson and voluntarily abandoned his claim. The compliance letter stated that McQueen’s property met the requirements of the CLO ordinance for by-right development, but the letter also advised McQueen that he would still need to comply with all other applicable laws and regulations and obtain final approval under the CLO ordinance. Such a compliance letter was not required by the CLO ordinance, nor did it approve a specific project according to Thompson. Several months later, the Board of Supervisors of Prince George County (the board) (defendant) repealed the CLO ordinance. Subsequently, McQueen filed a second declaratory-judgment action, seeking a declaration that he had obtained a vested right to develop his property as a by-right cluster subdivision because the compliance letter constituted a significant affirmative government act under Indiana Code § 15.2-2307. The trial court found in favor of McQueen. The board appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McClanahan, J.)

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