ANALYSIS: Judge Dismisses Old School Lawsuits

Early photo of 1912 Cape Charles School at Central Park

Early photo of 1912 Cape Charles School at Central Park. Town has paid a developer over $200,000 in cash and incentives to take the building, parking lot, and basketball court. Another $80,000 went for legal fees.

Cape Charles Wave

March 4, 2013

Circuit Court Judge Revell Lewis has dismissed lawsuits contesting the sale and rezoning of the old Cape Charles school and parkland.

The local civic organization Old School Cape Charles had submitted a litany of reasons to the court why the sale and rezoning were illegal, including improper notice, defective application documents, violation of the Town of Cape Charles Comprehensive Plan, unlawful “contract zoning,” arbitrary and capricious votes by Town Council, and violation of equal protection and due process.

Judge Lewis declined to consider any of the complaints, finding instead that no legal provision exists to contest them.

Lewis found that the Virginia code “contains no provision authorizing an action contesting a decision of a local governing body to sell or dispose of its real estate or an appeal thereof to this Court.”

Lewis also cited a Virginia Supreme Court opinion that severely limits a third-party challenge to a governmental action, and therefore found “no statutory authority” for challenging Town Council’s actions.

The judge’s ruling would appear to give carte blanche to municipalities. While the Town is bound by state law, the judge saw no way for a group of citizens to compel adherence by the Town to any law — at least not in the Circuit Court. [Read more…]