For Immediate Release
Monday, December 27, 2010
Contact: Mary Curtius 703-228-7943 (voice) 703-228-4611(TTY)
ARLINGTON, VA. – An appellate court has ruled in favor of Arlington County Government in the Views at Clarendon affordable housing case, affirming a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit brought against the County by Peter Glassman.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Dec. 23 affirmed the Eastern District of Virginia’s dismissal in the case of Peter Glassman v. Arlington County, et. al. The case had attempted to claim that the County violated the constitutions of the United States and Virginia when it loaned funds for an affordable housing project to be located on property at 1210 North Highland Street, formerly owned by the First Baptist Church of Clarendon.
This decision is the latest, and perhaps, final ruling in what has been a six-year legal battle over the land use approval, and now the funding, for the Views at Clarendon affordable housing project. After one early ruling for plaintiffs in the land use case, each decision has been in favor of the County. Throughout this latest litigation, both the District Court and the Fourth Circuit refused numerous requests to enjoin further construction of the project. Construction began in December of 2009 and is now well under way.
"We welcome this decision,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette. “The Court has reaffirmed that the Board’s goal in approving the Views at Clarendon was to provide affordable housing less than one block from a Metro station in the heart of Clarendon.”
The Fourth Circuit, in a three-judge panel opinion written by Judge Niemayer, found that the Complaint filed by Mr. Glassman made no "plausible claim" that could support an Establishment Clause Violation, but that the loan was made for the legitimate secular purpose of providing affordable housing. The Court rejected Mr. Glassman's claims that affordable housing was a sham purpose and that the loan, in reality, was made for the purpose of advancing religion. It also rejected his argument that the County's payment overvalued the property.
Should Mr. Glassman wish to appeal this decision, he could ask the Fourth Circuit panel to reconsider its decision, or he could ask for a hearing en banc, meaning before not just a panel, but all judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He also would have an option to seek a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court. None of these avenues for further review is available automatically; each would have to be granted in the respective Court's discretion.
Visit the County website to read the court's decision.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.