John L. McBride

Phone: (703) 218-2133
Fax: (703) 218-2160
Practice Areas

John L. McBride

Phone: (703) 218-2133
Fax: (703) 218-2160
Practice Areas

John McBride’s effectiveness as a land use attorney is built upon his accumulated experience; established reputation among staff and elected officials throughout localities in Northern Virginia; and an ability to build consensus through factual, detailed presentation of information. Prior to attending law school, John worked as a City Planner, a land acquisition and right-of-way agent, and a real estate leasing agent for local governments in Northern Virginia. This decade of experience provides him with invaluable insight into local government officials’ perspectives on land development projects.

John’s practice is focused on land use and development law, as well as eminent domain and real estate tax appeal litigation. His clients include places of worship, developers and builders of both residential and commercial projects, nonprofit charitable organizations, and businesses that own real estate.

John has been listed among Virginia Business magazine’s “Legal Elite” for Real Estate four times, and was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2015-2017 Best Lawyers in America® listings for Land Use and Zoning Law. John has been admitted as an expert witness in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, the Circuit Court for the Town of Culpeper, the Circuit Court for the City of Manassas, and the US Bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division.

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  • J.D., George Mason University School of Law, 1987
  • B.A., City Planning, University of Virginia School of Architecture, 1976
Admitted To Practice
  • Virginia
  • Virginia Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court of the United States of America
Practice Highlights
  • Conduct due diligence investigations of real estate. (What can I do with this property?)
  • Prepare and prosecute to completion: land use applications for rezonings, special use permits, special exceptions, certificates of appropriateness (ARB), appeals of zoning violations and determinations to Boards of Zoning Appeals.
  • Analyze zoning, subdivision and other local government regulations related to development issues.
  • Represent landowners in zoning determinations, proffer interpretations, zoning violation matters and legal non-conformance/grandfathering /vesting issues.
  • Represent landowners in land use litigation against local governments, including appeals from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
  • Represent landowners before Circuit Courts, Boards of Zoning Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court on zoning, variance and subdivision matters.
  • Represented the Prince William Bar Association on the Prince William Zoning and Development Ordinance Advisory Committee, which drafts amendments to the Prince William County Design and Construction Standards Manual (DCSM), Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances. The DCSM is incorporated into the zoning and subdivision ordinances and covers, inter alia, landscaping/buffers, parking, LID, storm water management, urban design standards, and transportation system requirements.
  • Lobbied on behalf of landowners and business owners in the following Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance amendments — Lighting Ordinance, Big Box Ordinance, Service Station/Mini-mart Ordinance, the “Neighborhood Compatibility” Ordinance, and the Restaurant Entertainment Ordinance.
  • Negotiate with civic associations, adjacent property owners and other citizens regarding pending land use applications.
  • Negotiate and draft development agreements between private (and sometimes public) entities to facilitate the orderly development of land and the future conveyance of easements.
  • File and prosecute real estate tax appeals for income producing property, high value residential property and vacant land.
  • Represented landowners in condemnation negotiations and eminent domain proceedings (such as the following projects: Hotlanes, I-66 widening, Rt. 28 widening, Rt. 1 widening, Fairfax County Parkway, Columbia Gas).
  • Represented landowners in the sale of Merrimac Farm in Prince William County to VDGIF, the Prince William Conservation Alliance and Quantico (Navy Dept.).
  • Negotiate and draft historical preservation and open space/conservation easements acceptable to the Virginia Department of Historical Resources, the American Battlefield Protection Program and the Land Trust of Virginia.
  • Land use and development consultation on behalf of environmental not-for-profit organizations.
  • Past consultant to the County of Culpeper and the City of Manassas Park in drafting amendments to their Zoning and Subdivision ordinances.
Areas of Concentration
  • Real Estate, Zoning, Land Use and Development applications – primarily in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties, as well as the towns and cities therein
  • Litigation – Eminent Domain; Development and Restrictive Covenant Disputes; Real Estate Tax Appeals
Professional Activities

Professional Organizations

  • Fairfax Bar Association
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Prince William Bar Association


  • Director of the Land Acquisition and the Real Property Management Divisions, County of Fairfax government
  • Planner, City of Fairfax
  • Planner, City of Alexandria
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2015-2019 for Land Use and Zoning Law
  • Virginia Business magazine’s “Legal Elite” in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012 – Real Estate
  • Best of NoVA, 2017 top lawyers in Zoning, Planning & Land Use, Northern Virginia magazine
Speaking Engagements
  • Local Government Attorneys (LGA) presenter on subdivision law, 2007
  • American Institute of Architects, Virginia Chapter presenter on Zoning Law, 2006
  • Virginia Zoning Officials (VZO) presenter on “Preparing for Court Testimony,” 2005
Community Activities
  • Habitat for Humanity Virginia, Inc.
    • Former Director
  • Buckland Preservation Society, Inc.
    • Former Director
  • Habitat for Humanity for Prince William
    • Pro bono assistance in zoning and real estate matters
  • Habitat for Humanity for Prince William
    • Director, former chairman
  • Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, Inc.
    • Special Counsel

Get In Touch

 We welcome the opportunity to partner with you on all your legal needs. Our Reston, Virginia, office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You’ll find direct-dial phone numbers for individual attorneys on their profile pages, or click below to fill out a contact form to request an appointment.