ARLINGTON, VA — Arlington County filed a motion in court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by homeowners opposed to the county’s new Missing Middle Housing zoning policy, arguing that the residents did not prove they have been harmed by the new policy because no residential units have been built under the new zoning law.

In its motion filed on May 23, the county also stated proper notice of the proposed zoning changes was provided to the public, contrary to the residents’ argument that the Arlington County Board did not follow legal requirements that it provide a descriptive summary of the proposed actions.

A hearing on the Missing Middle lawsuit is scheduled for July 11 in Arlington County Circuit Court.

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The 10 residents who filed the lawsuit are property owners in Arlington. They want the court to prevent the county from taking any action under the new Missing Middle Housing ordinance until it complies with state law.

The new housing zoning ordinance, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1, includes a cap of 58 permits in one calendar year, with the cap scheduled to sunset at the end of 2028.

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The board’s decision on March 22 to approve the Missing Middle Housing plan was the culmination of a process that began in December 2019, when the county agreed to launch a Missing Middle Housing Study to look at different housing types that could help address the shortage of affordable of housing in the county. The study then evolved into a proposal that would allow multifamily dwellings in Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods.

READ ALSO: Arlington Residents File Lawsuit To Block Missing Middle Housing Plan

The residents argued that while the Arlington County Board initially touted its plan as creating family-sized, affordable housing units with opportunities for homeownership, the Missing Middle zoning ordinance not only fails to deliver on that promise, but also will exacerbate gentrification, promoting the construction of units that are not affordable.

In its response to the lawsuit, Arlington County noted that the plaintiffs are challenging the zoning change based on “alleged harms that would manifest if property were developed as permitted by the Zoning Amendment.”

“However, no property has been developed under the terms of the Zoning Amendment, and any allegations of harm are pure speculation,” the county said.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs also accused the county of failing to conduct any special studies on how the Missing Middle Housing plan would affect Arlington’s infrastructure, including the impact of greater housing density on stormwater management and sewer systems.

In response, the county said there is no legal requirement to conduct such studies. But the county also noted that the testimony of the county’s professional staff and the testimony of members of the county’s Planning Commission, Housing Commission, Transportation Commission and other advisory commissions show that the county did adequately consider such factors as required under state law.

The Arlington residents also argued that the county’s advertisement of public hearings on the proposed changes to the county’s zoning law “did not generate informed participation of residents because they could not know which options the Board recommended for adoption until after the advertised public hearings were closed.”

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In its court filing, the county countered that the “plaintiffs had actual notice of, and participated in, the Board’s hearing, and thereby waived any alleged defect in the statutory notice required.” (Case No. CL23001513-00)

RELATED: Missing Middle Housing Proposal Approved By Arlington County Board

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