The University of Virginia has won a court battle over construction of a dormitory on the grounds of Morea, a historic Charlottesville mansion.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge last week dismissed a suit filed by the Albemarle Garden Club and five Charlottesville residents who alleged that construction of the 100-bed, $1.5 million dormitory would violate state environmental protection and historic preservation laws.
The plaintiffs have not decided whether to appeal Judge Willard I. Walker's decision, according to James F. Stutts, their attorney.
"We want zero for five," said Stutts, referring to the five arguments the plaintiff's presented in court.
The garden club and Charlottesville residents alleged that the university had inadequately prepared a required report on the dormitory's environmental impact, violated state law on the preservation of historic sites, improperly contracted for the dormitory's construction and violated that trust agreement under which the school maintained the antebellum mansion.
The suit also alleged that the dormitory would violate the garden club's legal "license" to care for plants on the west side of the Morea estate.
Walker dismissed all five complaints in his oral decision.
In several court hearings since March, when the plaintiffs first sought a temporary injunction to halt the dormitory construction, lawyers for the university argued the building was essential to the school's goal of housing half its students near its grounds.
The temporary injunction never was granted. The dormitory is scheduled for completion later this year, a university spokesman said.
"The residents and the garden club were very well intentioned, concerned people who had a difference of opinion with the university about how this land should be used and developed," said Assistant Attorney General Russell L. Borass, who helped argue the case for the university.
Morea, a brick home near the university's hub, was acquired for the university in 1960 after a fund-raising campaign. The house was built in 1835 on a 106-acre tract; the Morea land that will be used for dormitory space represents less than 10 percent of the remaining two-acre site, university officials said.
William Weedon, a university professor who gave more than $20,000 to buy Morea for the school, was one of the original plaintiffs in the suit. He and his wife, who also was a plaintiff, later dropped out of the case.
None of the five remaining plaintiffs would comment on the case last week.