The Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled in Berry vs. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance was void due to its adoption occurring at an online public hearing. The Court specifically ruled that any action that Fairfax County took at virtual public hearings that was beyond the essential business of government was not adhering to the Open Meetings laws that existed in the Commonwealth before July 2021. This issue was raised as a concern by Chamber members worried about the potential impact.
The Chamber is extremely concerned that any municipal and county ordinances approved in virtual public hearings before July 2021 now face legal uncertainty. The Arlington Chamber formed a coalition with other local and regional chambers of commerce and business organizations to express our shared concern to Governor Youngkin and to General Assembly leaders urging them to act to contain the consequences of these rules. The coalition is asking for legal language, in the budget amendments or through separate legislation, that either overturns the Court decision or contains the effects of the ruling to the specific ordinance in Fairfax County.