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Backets Bio

John W. Farrell

(703) 934-1182


John W. Farrell has over 40 years of experience before county supervisors, planning commissions and boards of zoning appeals in matters of real estate development, land use and environmental regulation, including rezoning, site plan and wetlands approvals. He has represented landowners and developers in innumerable land use and environmental cases and controversies including comprehensive planning, infrastructure financing and bonding and microbial, asbestos and lead contamination issues. Among those John has represented are the applicant in the largest rezoning ever filed in Northern Virginia which included 26 million square feet of nonresidential space and 2,266 dwelling units. He also represented dozens of plaintiff/landowners in the Fairfax County C & I and both Loudoun County down-zoning litigations.

John’s experience on behalf of lenders and borrowers in transactions involving real estate acquisition, construction and development loans is extensive. This representation has included the acquisition, development, leasing and sale of mixed-use communities, condominium and residential projects, commercial and retail properties, the sale of REO, negotiation of workouts, and foreclosure of non-performing loans.

As the former General Counsel for the Fairfax County Democrats (“FCDC”), John has extensive expertise in Virginia election law, having represented FCDC during the 2013 Attorney General’s recount and in litigation versus the local and State Electoral Boards. During 2017 he represented one of the candidates in the House recounts and served as General Counsel to the successful Lieutenant Governor’s campaign.

John’s environmental law and regulatory background is considerable and includes matters involving lender liability, CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Air, asbestos, lead, underground storage tanks, wetlands regulation and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.


  • A.B., cum laude, Boston College, 1974
  • J.D., New England School of Law, 1977


  • Virginia
  • Massachusetts

Affiliations & Activities

John is the former chairman of the Planning Board of Town of Walpole, Massachusetts. He is also the past chairman of the Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and served on the State Legislative Committee of the Home Builders Association of Virginia.

A 35-year resident of Reston, Virginia, John is a past national President of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and a past President of the Fairfax County Girls Softball League.  He also served on the Building Committee of Christ the Redeemer Church of Sterling, Virginia. He is a graduate of Boston College and New England School of Law and is admitted to practice in Virginia and Massachusetts.

Distinctions & Honors

John has been recognized by Virginia Business Magazine, based on a statewide survey of practicing attorneys, as one of the best attorneys in Virginia in Real Estate/Land Use Law and in Environmental Law, and in “Virginia Super Lawyers” for Land Use Law.

Publications & Presentations

John is a lecturer/instructor in real estate, land use, and environmental law for the Virginia Law Foundation, the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, and the Engineers & Surveyors Institute.

His publications include:

Interview: “Va. Senate Race Could Head for Recount,” WUSA 9, 11/5/2014

Interview: “Checking the Numbers in the Close Race for Virginia Senator,” NBC4, 11/5/2014.