A Virginia judge effectively declined to intervene yesterday in a dispute between the Alexandria City Council and developers of a controversial four-building office complex planned for the north end of the city along the George Washington Parkway.
Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Wiley R. Wright Jr. continued until Oct. 22 a hearing at which Potomac Investment Associates sought a court order forcing the City Council to approve site plans for its twice-delayed 200,000 square foot project. The continuation is the latest episode in a five-month feud among Alexandria residents, the city, the National Park Service and the developer over who is responsible for the project's impact on the parkway and nearby access roads.
Plans for the project initially were approved in April by the Alexandria Planning Commission, but the residents and the Park Service appealed the issue to the City Council, citing traffic and drainage problems. A plan approved by the developers and city planners called for widening of parkway access roads, but also for a cut into the parkway median. The council agreed unanimously at a special meeting in July to grant a Park Service request for more time to study the matter.
Under the terms of a 1929 agreement with the Interior Department, the city must have Park Service approval for any changes to the parkway.
The developers protested the delay, and two weeks later filed a lawsuit accusing the council of "willfully and wrongfully" failing to approve the project.
Judge Wright said yesterday he made his decision "with the expectation that the Park Service will make its position known to the City Council before that time and that the City Council will act upon the site plan."
Reaction to the judge's decision was mixed. City Council Member Donald C. Casey hailed it as "wonderful news. We need the cooperation of the Interior Department . . . I felt we were right in granting the delay . It's very difficult to develop properties along the parkway."
Condominium resident Michael Rauh, an opponent of the development, described the judge's decision as a "victory for no one," and lawyers for the developers declined comment.