Staff Report
alexandrianews.org

329 N. Washington Street

Just inside the 14-day window for doing so, a group of 23 Alexandria residents who object to a proposed 153-seat restaurant and five-bedroom inn on N. Washington Street have filed a Petition for Rehearing with the Virginia Supreme Court. A Writ Panel of the Supreme Court, after hearing oral arguments in this appeal, refused to accept the case late last month, leaving in effect the Alexandria Circuit Court decision to allow the project to move forward.

In 2014, Margaret and Laurent Janowsky, owners of La Bergerie restaurant and the Del Ray Café, applied to the Alexandria Planning Commission and the Alexandria City Council for a Development Special Use Permit and a Master Plan Amendment to change the zoning of the property at 329 N. Washington Street from residential to commercial. They proposed relocating La Bergerie from the Crilley Warehouse on N. Lee Street to the property on N. Washington Street and adding a five-bedroom inn above the restaurant. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in early October, 2014, and City Council followed suit later that month. With plans to begin construction on their new project in January, 2015, the Janowskys closed La Bergerie on Christmas Eve, 2014.

Petition for Rehearing - La Bergerie Case

In early 2015, with pro bono representation from the law firm of Williams & Connolly, 23 Alexandria residents filed suit in Alexandria Circuit Court to stop the project. Alexandria’s three Circuit Court judges recused themselves because of their relationships with the Janowskys, Margaret Janowsky’s mother, former Alexandria Mayor and former Virginia State Senator Patsy Ticer, and members of City Council. A substitute judge was appointed and the case finally went to trial in the spring of 2016. The judge ultimately ruled in favor of City Council in October, 2016.

In early 2017, the plaintiffs appealed the case to the Virginia Supreme Court. A Writ Panel refused to accept jurisdiction of the case on Oct. 27, 2017. The Court, as a whole, must now decide whether to grant the Petition for Rehearing, or to refuse the case once and for all.

The City has spent more than $1 million on legal fees defending the case, according to Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson. The Janowskys, according to a Facebook post, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees.

 

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