The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of a YMCA and against a for-profit club organization in Charlottesville, VA, that had attempted to thwart the building of a local YMCA in a city park.
The for-profit club organization, Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association, includes ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers and Gym Quest Inc., a Gold's Gym franchisee.
"ACAC was disappointed by the ruling, but we appreciate that the court saw fit to hear the case," Christine Thalwitz, director of communications and research for ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers, told Club Industry. "We respect their decision and look forward to moving ahead."
On Thursday, the Virginia Supreme Court vacated and dismissed two judgments entered by the circuit courts of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. The two cases were Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association vs. Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association vs. Charlottesville City Council. Judges ruled in favor of the county in November 2010 and ruled in favor of the city in April 2011 before the decisions were appealed.
Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn wrote the opinion for the Virginia Supreme Court.
"Because we are of the opinion that none of the claims asserted in the declaratory judgment actions presents a justiciable controversy, we will vacate the judgments of the circuit courts and dismiss the declaratory judgment actions because the circuit courts did not have authority to exercise jurisdiction," Goodwyn wrote.
Kurt Krueger, chairman of the Piedmont Family YMCA, told local media it was "a good day for the Y" and planned to proceed with the construction of the Y.
The for-profit group claimed that the city and county violated the Virginia Public Procurement Act, which requires the government to seek bids on projects. Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville donated $2.03 million and $1.25 million, respectively, to the Piedmont Family YMCA, Charlottesville, to build a Y in a city park. Neither the city nor the county allowed bids from private clubs, the for-profit group claimed.
However, Goodwyn wrote that Albemarle County Board of Supervisors had the right to enter into the agreement with the YMCA.
"The fitness clubs are strangers to the board's negotiations with the YMCA, including its decision to make a $2.03 million payment to the YMCA and enter into the use agreement," Goodwyn wrote. "Although ACAC alleges that it pays taxes in Albemarle County, it is not seeking to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Albemarle County and thus does not allege a justiciable controversy."
Furthermore, according to Goodwyn's opinion, the for-profit group filed the lawsuits to protect its own interests.
"ACAC did not institute its action for the benefit of taxpayers and others similarly situated," Goodwyn wrote. "Nor has it alleged that the $2.03 million payment to the YMCA will impose an illegal tax burden or will otherwise injuriously affect the taxpayers of the county. To the contrary, ACAC seeks to protect its own interests as a business that provides fitness services."
Goodwyn also wrote that the for-profit clubs were attempting to create rights they did not have.
"The fitness clubs did not seek to bid on the lease, did not protest the council's limitation to construction and operation of a non-profit facility, and did not otherwise seek a determination from the council as to whether they could submit a bid on the lease," Goodwyn wrote.