An Alexandria Circuit Court judge last week denied separate requests by the city and its opponents in a case brought by the city asking the court to rule that Alexandria’s Board of Zoning Appeals does not have certain authorities.
The judge’s rulings mean the case is still on course for an April hearing next year.
The Board of Zoning Appeals last spring sided with citizens who had asked it to reconsider a ruling by the director of Alexandria’s Planning and Zoning Department. Faroll Hamer had ruled as invalid their petition requesting the city not rezone some waterfront land near their homes and so not allow hotels.
The city filed suit in circuit court to express it disagreed with the BZA ruling and at the time, City Attorney Jim Banks said the quasi-judicial body “ignored some very basic principles of underlying law.”
Judge Nolan Dawkins last Wednesday denied the city’s motion for summary judgment because he said it was not appropriate in this particular case because of certain, disputed facts, City Attorney Jim Banks told Patch.
Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront, which is partially footing the legal bills for three women petitioners called the “Iron Ladies” – Beth Gibney, Marie Kux and April Burke, declared the judge’s ruling a “major legal victory” in a news release.
However, City Attorney Banks said: “I don’t count this as a huge victory for anyone….If they won a great victory then so did we…”
He added that it’s common for parties to file such motions in civil cases. “This is nothing extraordinary,” he said.
The FAW news release highlighted that the judge denied the city’s motion but did not disclose that its own motion was also denied.
The Iron Ladies’ motion asked the judge to strike and dismiss the city’s appeal.
“We argue that the city erred procedurally in filing this appeal,” said FAW co-Chair Bert Ely. “For us, the victory is that the judge also denied the city’s motion. Had the city won, that would have effectively overturned the BZA decision back in April…Now the burden is on the city” to make a convincing case that the BZA erred in its decision, he said.
Meanwhile, in Richmond on Tuesday, a lawyer for Burke, Gibney and Kux was scheduled to make a pitch to a panel of Virginia Supreme Court judges that the high court should reconsider the Alexandria Circuit Court's dismissal of their lawsuit. The high court usually take several weeks to announce whether it agreed to take a case.