Letter to the Editor: Alexandria Residents Opt to Defend BZA Victory
Alexandrian Michael Peck, who is suing the city over its waterfront plan, explains his opinion on recent legal movement on the issue.
To the Editor:
On Aug. 9, Alexandria residents Michael Peck and Elizabeth Baldwin decided to "nonsuit" or discontinue their suit against the City of Alexandria alleging that adoption of the Waterfront Small Area Plan constituted spot zoning and an arbitrary and capricious act in favor of a separate proceeding in which they were successful.
After filing their suit, they and other Alexandria citizens secured a ruling before the Alexandria Board of Zoning Appeals that nullifies the City Council’s vote, effectively making their suit redundant. Mr. Peck and Ms. Baldwin are now joining other residents to oppose the City’s latest effort to have a court overturn the BZA’s reasoned findings.”
Mr. Peck, Ms. Baldwin and other residents filed a formal protest before the City Council voted to make changes to the Alexandria waterfront that will permit extensive commercial development and detract from its historical character. This protest prohibited the City Council from adopting such sweeping changes without a “super majority” vote of at least 75 percent of the Council members. The City Council failed to obtain the required votes but nevertheless proclaimed that it had adopted the Waterfront Small Area Plan.
After filing their suit, Mr. Peck and Ms. Baldwin joined with many other residents to appeal to the BZA, which concluded that the City had improperly rejected their protest. This decision confirmed that the City Council disregarded the law when it voted to redevelop the waterfront.
Rather than listen to its citizens and its BZA, the City is proceeding with its failed vote and has filed a suit to invalidate the BZA’s ruling. Mr. Peck and Ms. Baldwin have submitted their objections to the City’s suit, and further proceedings were scheduled on Monday, Aug. 13. Later that week, on Friday, Aug. 17, Judge Kemler denied the residents' request for nonsuit, a decision with which they respectfully disagree, and dismissed the action they had filed and previously opted not to pursue.
Mr. Peck and Ms. Baldwin are optimistic that the court will reject the City’s last-ditch effort to force changes to the waterfront that will promote private business interests at the expense of the community, which would render any further pursuit of their independent action unnecessary.
Michael Peck, Alexandria resident