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Lamar Company, LLC v. City of Richmond

Supreme Court of Virginia

April 17, 2014

THE LAMAR COMPANY, LLC
v.
CITY OF RICHMOND, ET AL

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF RICHMOND. Melvin R. Hughes, Jr., Judge.

Reversed and remanded.

John G. " Chip" Dicks (Jerry C. Booth, Jr.; Future Law; Golightly Mulligan & Booth, on briefs), for appellant.

(Bonnie Ashley, Deputy City Attorney, on brief), for appellees.

OPINION

[287 Va. 323] PRESENT: All the Justices

DONALD W. LEMONS, JUSTICE

In this appeal, we consider whether the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond (" circuit court" ) erred in its decision to affirm the

Page 16

Board of Zoning Appeals' denial of the Lamar Company's request for a variance.

I. Facts and Proceedings

The Lamar Company, LLC (" Lamar" ) leases property on Mayo Island at 501 South 14th Street in the City of Richmond from Alan [287 Va. 324] T. Shaia and Wayne T. Shaia (" the Shaias" ) pursuant to a lease agreement. A billboard is located on this property that is visible from Interstate 95. The billboard has been declared illegal in prior litigation because it exceeds the permitted height limitation. In June 2011, Lamar and the Shaias filed a joint application for a variance with the Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Richmond (" BZA" ) to allow the billboard to remain at its existing height. There is no dispute that if the billboard is lowered to the permitted height it will not be visible from Interstate 95.

The BZA held a hearing on August 3, 2011, to consider Lamar and the Shaias' application for a variance. At the conclusion of the hearing, the BZA denied the requested variance. Lamar and the Shaias then filed appeals to the circuit court, which consolidated their appeals.

After conducting a hearing on the matter, the circuit court issued a letter opinion on January 17, 2013, in which it upheld the BZA's decision to deny the request for a variance. The circuit court issued a final order on February 19, 2013, incorporating its January 17, 2013 letter opinion.

Lamar appealed the circuit court's judgment to this Court, and we awarded an appeal. The Shaias chose not to pursue an appeal in this Court, and the City of Richmond (the " City" ) filed a motion to dismiss Lamar's appeal for lack of a necessary party.

II. Motion to Dismiss

In its motion to dismiss, the City asserts that the Shaias are necessary parties to this appeal because they are the landowners. The City relies on Code ยง 15.2-2314, which states that " [t]he governing body, the landowner, and the applicant" are necessary parties to appeals from the BZA to the circuit court. This ...


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