Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 25, 2010

Uniformity Requirement for Height Restrictions Not Violated Where Ordinance Contains Differing Height Limits for Standard and Substandard (Pre-existing) Buildings

In a declaratory judgment action by a landowner against a city challenging a zoning ordinance that sets different building height limits for standard and substandard lots (lots that were lawfully in existence at the time of the adoption of new provisions in the zoning code) as an alleged violation of the uniformity requirement of Code § 15.2-2282, the Virginia Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment for the defendant city because it uniformly applies its building height regulations for one-family dwellings on standard lots and uniformly applies its building height regulations for one-family dwellings on substandard lots in the zoning district.

With respect to plaintiff’s further contention that the ordinance violated equal protection principles, the Court ruled that because the height regulation is not inherently suspect involving infringement upon fundamental rights, plaintiff was required to establish that the ordinance was unreasonable, and failed to do so. Therefore the plaintiff failed to rebut the presumption of its validity. 

Schefer v City Council of Falls Church, 691 S.E. 2d 778 (Va. 4/15/2010). 

The opinion can be accessed at:  http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1090803.pdf


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