Staff Report

329 N. Washington Street

The Virginia Supreme Court on Feb. 2, refused a request for a rehearing by the full Court of an appeal by a group of Alexandrians to stop the owners of La Bergerie from moving the restaurant to North Washington Street. The plaintiffs’ only remaining appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision they must make within 90 days.

“The court has ruled, and now things can move forward accordingly,” said Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg.

The saga began in 2014 when owners Margaret and Laurent Janowsky proposed moving La Bergerie from its Crilley Warehouse location on N. Lee Street to 329 N. Washington Street. In addition to a 153-seat restaurant with outdoor seating in a courtyard, the Janowskys also proposed operating a three= to four-bedroom inn above the restaurant. In October, 2014, the Alexandria Planning Commission and the Alexandria City Council approved the request for a Development Special Use Permit and a rezoning request, which allowed the Janowskys to proceed. A group of residential property owners who live near the N. Washington Street location opposed the decision and took City Council to court

After Alexandria’s three Circuit Court judges recused themselves because of their familiarity with the Janowskys, members of City Council and Margaret Janowsky’s mother, former Alexandria Mayor Patsy Ticer, the VA Supreme Court appointed a special judge to hear the case. The matter finally went to court in the spring of 2016 with the judge ruling in favor of City Council that fall.

The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the VA Supreme Court in March, 2017. A three-judge panel of the VA Supreme Court unanimously refused to hear the appeal on Oct. 27, 2017. The plaintiffs requested a rehearing of that decision by the full Court on Nov. 13, 2017, and the full Court refused to hear the appeal on Feb. 2, 2018.

To date, the City has spent more than $1.1 million in taxpayer funds to defend the case. The Janowskys have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and have lost significant revenue from the delays.

"I'm relieved that this litigation appears to be nearing conclusion and that this small business can proceed with their plans. This has gone on far too long," said Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson.