On March 31, 2020, Evan Pritchard was quoted in the Washington Business Journal regarding possible government intervention to help Virginia developers manage the impact of COVID-19. According to the article, the outbreak has ground the development review process to a virtual halt, sparking new calls for state officials to step in and lend a hand to the industry.
Any sort of permit expiration freeze could make an especially important difference for projects that have taken years to come together, particularly those derailed by the Great Recession. Many projects around the state that secured entitlements or permits before that crash are now facing a July 1 deadline to get earth moving.
That's because state lawmakers have repeatedly agreed to waive expiration dates for commercial and residential projects dating back to 2009, in a bid to keep development moving amid the recession, but they recently stopped doing so. A bill to continue pushing out deadlines through 2023 failed in Richmond this year, meaning that approvals will start expiring when the new fiscal year hits.
Pritchard said he’s begun calling zoning departments in Northern Virginia to ensure they’re notifying property owners and developers about that change. In Fairfax County alone, Pritchard's heard 165 projects would be impacted. He's particularly concerned that delays tied to COVID-19 could make it extremely difficult to secure government action within the next few months for such projects.
“There’s a lot of logic that if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not going to happen, but these things take time,” Pritchard said.