Virginia BZAs Get “Off the Hook” on Appeal


The 2010 Virginia General Assembly adopted HB 1063, which is a helpful simplification of the process by which BZA decisions are appealed to circuit court. It is effective July 1, 2010.

Need for the Bill

This bill was much needed. Prior to this bill, a BZA has been held to be a necessary party in an appeal. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County v. Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County, 225 Va. 235, 238, 302 S.E.2d 19 (1983) (“[U]ntil return on the writ of certiorari is made by the board of zoning appeals, the only necessary parties to a proceeding under [the predecessor statute to Virginia Code § 15.2-2314] are the aggrieved person and the board.”)

Being named as a party (and its chair often being served with process by the local sheriff) often resulted in angst on the part of the BZAs. BZAs felt they were “being sued,” and this was often reported in the local media. Localities and their BZAs argued over whether the BZA is a “real” party on appeal, which needs counsel, or merely named so it can produce its record for consideration by the circuit court. Being named as a party lead many BZAs to ask their localities for counsel, and in some instances, to sue for it. See Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, 276 Va. 550, 666 S.E.2d 315 (2008).

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