Arlington To Pay Law Firm Up To $750 An Hour On Missing Middle Lawsuit

ARLINGTON, VA — Arlington County has hired a Roanoke-based law firm that specializes in local government litigation to help defend the county against a lawsuit filed by a group of Arlington homeowners seeking to invalidate the county’s Missing Middle zoning ordinance.

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Under an agreement reached with the Gentry Locke law firm, Arlington County will pay the law firm fees ranging from $300 to $750 per hour to support its defense of Missing Middle.

Last week, Circuit Court Judge David Schell rejected the county’s motion for an immediate appeal of his decision to let the lawsuit go to trial. Schell has set July 8 as the start date for the five-day trial. The group of 10 Arlington homeowners are seeking to invalidate the Missing Middle Housing, or Expanded Housing Option, zoning ordinance.

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Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF), a citizens group opposed to Missing Middle, obtained a copy of the agreement correspondence with Gentry Locke through a Freedom of Information Act request

READ ALSO: Judge Rejects Arlington’s Effort To Stop Missing Middle Zoning Lawsuit

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Scott Foster, Monica Monday and Ryan Starks will be the lawyers at Gentry Locke primarily responsible for representing Arlington County.

“As agreed, your hourly rate, along with Monica Monday and Ryan Starks, is $450.00 – $750 per hour; if needed, associates who might participate in this matter bill range of $300-$450 per hour,” Arlington County Attorney MinhChau Corr said in a Jan. 2 letter to Foster accepting the representation agreement.

In the latest issue of her EHO Watch newsletter, published on Thursday, local Realtor and Arlington County Board candidate Natalie Roy asked why Arlington hired a law firm based in Roanoke, with offices in Richmond, Lynchburg and Norfolk.

“Were no attorneys to be found in Arlington or Washington DC?” Roy wrote. “How much of the fees from our newly-increased real estate tax assessments will be used to bail the County out of its mistakes? Isn’t there a budget shortfall predicted this year?”

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that Arlington County violated the Code of Virginia by failing to conduct studies of the impact of increased density on infrastructure, such as roads, stormwater, and schools before the Arlington County Board voted in March 2023 to adopt the EHO zoning ordinance.

Along with its municipal and local government practice, Gentry Locke represents many industries, including coal mining companies and other energy firms, banks, and companies faced with environmental compliance issues.


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