The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the City of Alexandria in its appeal of a Circuit Court decision siding with the over rights of way in Wales Alley.
“If the appeal had not been granted, we’d be bound by the 1972 decision, which we believe has nothing to do with this situation,” Deputy City Attorney Christopher Spera said. “The legal argument by the boat club and adopted by the Circuit Court was rejected by the Supreme Court.”
The Alexandria Circuit Court , agreeing that a 1972 ruling applied to this case, allowing the boat club to say its ownership of an easement in Wales Alley prevented the city from allowing the restaurant to offer outdoor dining to its patrons.
The high court said it did not apply, because the 1972 case between the boat club and a private firm, called Dockside, does not apply to a case between the boat club and the City of Alexandria.
“Given the nature of the city’s involvement in the current case, it is evident that the current dispute 'could [not] have been litigated' between ODBC and Dockside,” reads the high court’s opinion.
“We are certainly disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to remand this case to the Circuit Court for further hearings based on the court’s order,” said ODBC President Miles Holtzman. “We are especially disappointed that the court chose not to rule on the legality of the city’s allowing Virtue Feed & Grain to construct an outdoor dining patio."
Holtzman added: “We believe the Circuit Court will again see this case for what it is and reaffirm its decision to uphold our private property rights. The issue is not settled."
Alexandria Circuit Court Judge John McGrath had said in an earlier ruling that the boat club, which is located at the end of King Street, has an easement on the alley connecting Union Street to the Strand and Wales Alley. The judge said no obstructions could be built in the alley, but the city appealed to the high court.
The city had granted a permit allowing restaurateurs Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong to operate outdoor dining in Wales Alley.
The issue of whether the boat club’s easement rights, which date back to a 1789 deed, supersedes the use of the alley as a public right of way and so under the city’s jurisdiction still must be determined.
The high court sent the case back to the Circuit Court.