Circuit Court Dismisses Waterfront Lawsuit
Court dismisses complaint without ability to refile.
The Alexandria Circuit Court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legality and substance of the city’s waterfront small area plan and its affiliated language that would allow zoning changes along the riverside.
City residents Michael Peck and Elizabeth Baldwin filed suit in February, claiming that the waterfront plan approved by City Council was “arbitrary and capricious” and constituted “illegal spot zoning.”
City Council passed the plan in January.
The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint without the ability to refile, finding that the record of proceedings leading up to the approval of the plan made it clear as a matter of law that the council had considered and weighed all of the issues that the plaintiffs said were not considered, according to a statement released by the city.
"It was a telling factor that the court—when it was addressing the case on its merits—affirmed what the City Council had done," Christopher Spera, deputy city attorney, told Patch.
The court noted the more than 4,000 pages of documents were part of the record of the City Council’s consideration of the plan.
"The court’s ruling speaks to itself and we understand that this is a sensitive matter and there's a lot of community interest," Spera said. "The city is committed to working through the various pieces of litigation and seeing the plan go forward."
A separate case appealing the Board of Zoning Appeals' decision regarding adequacy of notice in adopting the "W-1 text amendment" governing zoning changes is still pending with the court. It is set for trial in early spring.
If the court upholds the BZA-related case, which addresses more of a procedural issue rather than the content of the plan, City Council would be required to vote again on the waterfront plan and it would need a supermajority vote for passage.