The plant was built in 1949 but in recent years has become a point of concern as residential development that has crept closer and closer to it. However, the stratagems the city attempted to use to authorize the plant’s removal ran afoul of Virginia Code § 15.2-2307 Justice Elizabeth B. Lacy wrote for a unanimous court in Alexandria City Council v. Mirant Potomac River LLC.
That statute generally prohibits localities from the impairment “the impairment of any vested right,” and that was precisely the effect of the city’s effort to remove the plant, Lacy wrote.
In the second case, the city attempted to block the subdivision of one parcel into two parcels that even in their subdivided state would have been larger than the typical site in an established neighborhood. Residents there objected because they feared the construction of “McMansions” out of scale with other homes.
The high court ruled, however, in Seymour v. City of Alexandria, that the city subdivision ordinance governed only the consistency of lots, not the type of structure that goes on them.