Nine Charlottesville residents are suing the city to stop it from implementing its new zoning ordinance.

On Jan. 17, the residents filed a lawsuit in Charlottesville Circuit Court alleging that the city’s new zoning ordinance is “void and otherwise invalid.” City Council unanimously voted to adopt the new ordinance during its regular business meeting on Dec. 1, with an effective date of Feb. 19, 2024.

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The suit alleges that the city did not follow Virginia law in its comprehensive plan process. Specifically, it claims that the city sent just the transportation chapter — and not the entire comprehensive plan as required in Virginia Code 15.2-222.1 — to the Virginia Department of Transportation. For that reason, the suit argues, the comprehensive plan adopted by City Council in November 2021 is void.

And if the comprehensive plan is void, then so is the zoning ordinance that is based off of it, the suit argues.

The law the suit cites begins: “Prior to adoption of any comprehensive plan … the locality shall submit such plan or amendment to the Department of Transportation for review and comment if the plan or amendment will substantially affect transportation on state-controlled highways as defined by regulations promulgated by the Department.”

The 50 page suit also lays out numerous allegations about how the ordinance would harm the plaintiffs, most of whom are homeowners in the Barracks-Rugby neighborhood. The zoning ordinance is a complex law that broadly increases the density allowed throughout the entire city.

Subscribers to the Daily Progress can read more about what is alleged in the suit and who the plaintiffs are in this article.

The City has 21 days to respond in court once it is served.

Both the City and the plaintiff's attorney, Mike Derdeyn, declined to comment.

Councilor Michael Payne emailed a brief comment, “from me, not on behalf of the city.”

“The process of rewriting the City's zoning code occurred over a period of 7 years, with extensive community engagement,” he wrote.

“City Council and staff carefully reviewed all elements of the new zoning throughout that process. As we've seen in Arlington and localities across the country, zoning changes are often followed by litigation. I feel confident that we've done our due diligence and followed the law and proper procedure for all elements of the new zoning code.”

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