Wales Alley Decision to Come in About Eight Weeks

Case over public use and rights of way was heard before the Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday morning.

By Mechelle Hankerson

Richmond, Va. - The Supreme Court of Virginia is set to make a decision in the local civil dispute over Wales Alley in about eight weeks after hearing arguments from both sides on Thursday morning.

City of Alexandria Attorney Jim Banks said the case went well and both sides' arguments were very well presented.

According to Banks, most Supreme Court decisions take about eight weeks before being released. Until then, both sides will have to wait it out.

The case heard by the Supreme Court is two combined lower-court cases: Virtue Feed and Grain v. the Old Dominion Boat Club and the City of Alexandria v. the ODBC.

In addition to the alley, ODBC and the city . ODBC, which has been in its location since 1880, is not willing to give up its ownership of that spot.

In May 2010, the City Planning Commission and City Council approved a special-use permit for the owners of to operate a restaurant, with permission to construct a deck.

The Old Dominion Boat Club said the alley is its private property per a 1789 deed and that construction of a dining deck for the restaurant would impede its members’ use of the alley to move boats into its parking lot.

As currently planned, the deck would allow for 14 feet of travel space in the alley.

In Circuit Court, Judge John McGrath had ruled that the ODBC had a 30-foot easement in the alley and said “neither ODBC nor any previous owner of the parcel at issue has ever withheld the right to easement, or dedicated it to the public.”

This isn’t the first time Wales Alley and the Old Dominion Boat Club were part of a civil dispute.

In 1972, under a claim that it owned the alley, the now-defunct Dockside Sales (which was located where Virtue Feed and Grain is currently located), constructed fences that blocked the alley from traffic.

ODBC sued and the Chancery Court of Alexandria ruled that Wales Alley was a public way and ODBC had a “vested easement of way.”


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