Manassas Journal Messenger | Manassas City Council decides not to intervene in alley dispute

The Manassas City Council declined to intervene in a homeowners’ dispute over a public alley between Robson Drive and Beauregard Avenue, taking no action Monday on a petition to vacate the strip of land.

Peter Perretta, who complained of teenagers loitering and drinking in the area, had asked the city to turn the alley over to the homeowners. Doing so would allow the homeowners to post “No trespassing” signs in the alley, Perretta said in an interview Monday night. Perretta was not at Monday’s meeting.

The problem with the alley being public property is the police can not say who can go in there and who cannot, according to Judith Hays, councilwoman.

“It’s a neighborhood problem,” Hays said.

As long as the alley is in use, it would be irresponsible to say “it’s not a public alley anymore,” Hays said in an interview Monday night, noting the council will revisit the issue if it comes up again. The council unanimously tabled a vote on vacating the alley. Mayor Marvin L. Gillum was not at the meeting.

The council encouraged the neighbors to continue working with William Swartz, city assistant director of public works.

Almost half of the 15-foot alley is used by neighbors. Historically, unless homeowners are unanimously seeking a vacation, the city council remains out of it, council members said at Monday’s meeting.

In an interview Monday night, Perretta said he wants the alley issue to be a win-win situation for everybody.

“We can’t put a bubble over our house. I’m not asking to be safe in every aspect,” Perretta said.

Perretta said the alley is about 75 feet behind his home. Picking up leftover trash and beer bottles in the alley are almost a weekend ritual for Perretta. However, he said this weekend was more quiet.

Perretta has made four calls to the police over the past two and a half years in claiming nuisance activities, according a report submitted to the council by Manassas Chief of Police John J. Skinner.

The summary of calls for service from 2001 to 2003 revealed no calls pertaining to nuisance in the alley from any of the other eight homeowners. Daily nuisance calls include “drinking, loud noise, loitering,” or large numbers of people in the area, Skinner said.

Three of four of Perretta’s calls pertained to the alley.

On June 16 at 6:45 p.m., Perretta called reporting a car was blocking the access road to the rear of the residence. When police arrived, there was no car to be found.

In August 2002, Perretta called because of a suspicious person in his garage who claimed he was with a tree company. He had left before police arrived.

In 2001, Perretta called reporting a vehicle parked behind a tree with a light out across from the residence. Police arrived and the car was not there, according to the report.

Councilman Ulysses X. White said he was torn on the issue.

“There’s no way we can please everybody,” White said.

Residents need to work together on the issue rather than the ask council to legislate what to do, White said.

Another consideration was to put gates up at the alley, dividing the alley and private property of the homeowners.

“I don’t want to see it closed off with gates,” Hays said.

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