Arlington residents sue over county's 'missing middle' housing policy

A closely-watched trial in Arlington County began on Monday as a group of residents took on the county's 'missing middle' policy.

Nearly a dozen single-family homeowners brought the lawsuit arguing that county officials didn't adequately study the impacts of re-zoning before approval in 2023.

'Missing middle' is a housing term that addresses the 'middle' between single-family homes and high-rises — think townhouses, duplexes and garden apartments for multi-family use.

In Arlington, specifically, it allows up to six units to be built where a single-family home once stood.

A GoFundMe page started by Neighbors for Neighborhoods has raised more than $91,000 from about 565 donations as of Monday to help pay for legal proceedings on behalf of the residents as they sue the county. The goal is to have the county's missing middle or 'expanded housing options' zoning declared void.

RELATED: 'Missing Middle' housing plan approved in Arlington

David Gerk is an attorney and Arlington resident since 2002. He is also a member of the group Arlingtonians for Upzoning Transparency (AFUT).

"This is going to drastically change our community and it's going to stress infrastructure, it's going to cause overcrowding and it's poor city planning," said Gerk.

AFUT is not part of this particular lawsuit, but Gerk was in the courtroom Monday for opening statements.

"This trial is really simple: Did the county follow the law and follow the processes that are required to impose or put forth this new zoning structure? The plaintiffs say no, and those of us following it with concerns agree with that view," Gerk said.

A spokesperson for Arlington County said they cannot comment on active litigation and will allow the court proceedings to conclude before commenting.

The trial is being heard by a judge only — no jury — and is expected to last five days.