Thursday, April 11, 2013
Three women who filed a previous lawsuit say the city is not playing by the rules with its rezoning plans.
Three Alexandria women who disagree with the city’s plans to rezone its riverside have filed a court complaint seeking to undo City Council’s March vote allowing buildings such as hotels on the waterfront. April Burke, Beth Gibney and Marie Kux on Tuesday filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in Alexandria Circuit Court (see attached PDF) “because once again the City of Alexandria is not playing by the rules in making a zoning change,” according to a statement issued by the lawsuit’s supporters, Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront. They argue that the city’s planning director improperly rejected their appeals to the Board of Zoning Appeals. “The effect of this appeal should have been to stay any vote by Council on waterfront zoning …
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Frank Putzu questions the city's transparency and ability to engage with its citizens when it comes to redeveloping the Alexandria waterfront.
Wednesday, April 3
On March 16, 2013, the Alexandria City Council passed controversial and sweeping planning changes that are already the subject of litigation. The City passed these changes to transform an honest policy disagreement into Through the Looking Glass litigation tactics, where nothing is as it appears to be. There are two cases in court. The first, city-initiated litigation attacks a Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) decision finding that citizens have a right to petition their government in accordance with state law (the BZA is a creature of state law, not the city) and zoning ordinance. The second, citizen-initiated litigation, which is before the Supreme Court of Virginia, is whether the city can manipulate the process to deprive its citizens of …
Friday, March 22, 2013
Former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald says citizens can rest assured that its elected leaders, Democrats one and all, know what’s best for the city, even when its citizens don’t.
Dear Editor, Virginia is for lovers and the Alexandria waterfront is too! Although the City Council voted only 6-1 to rezone the Alexandria waterfront last Saturday, and although I was disappointed that four years of constructive planning were coming to an end, I was impressed by the intellectual clarity of the Council members. It was clear that they understood the concerns of residents and the importance of creating a waterfront that will compliment one of the most important historic districts in the nation. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Chapman noted just how romantic a venue the waterfront is, or could be, if it weren’t for those old warehouses that gobble up some much landscape. Ms. Pepper, who is known for her support of citizen concerns, took …
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Council's Saturday action on two amendments enables further implementation of the city's Waterfront Small Area Plan designed to revive the riverside.
City Council voted 6-1 Saturday afternoon to allow new kinds of development along the Alexandria waterfront and allowing the city to curb litigation currently stalling the city’s plans to redevelop its riverside. Council also voted 6-1 on an amendment clarifying a part of the zoning code governing property owners’ protest petitions. Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz explained Saturday that the text amendment “is needed to implement elements of the small area plan such as permitting hotels.” The newly adopted text amendment would allow hotels under certain circumstances, permit cultural institutions and offer rules governing size and height of new development.’ It also would allow structures 5,000 feet or larger that “…
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Alexandrian Kathryn Papp says City Council's March 16 meeting is a political maneuver that clears a path for the city's overly dense waterfront plan.
Wednesday, March 13
To the Editor: On Saturday, March 16 at City Hall, elected officials will take a vote that seems intended to try to deny property owners’ their day in court. This vote could easily end by depriving the majority of property owners throughout the City of Alexandria the right to freely petition against zoning decisions that affect them; it would restrict access to the city’s own Protest Petition. On March 5, citizens’ clarity and the integrity of their arguments regarding the importance of the Protest Petition were in no doubt. Many favored relying on judicial reasoning for a full and final understanding of the Protest Petition process. This is scheduled on the Circuit Court docket for April 9. If a supermajority of council members agree on …
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Alexandria Planning Commission Chair John Komoroske and past chair Eric Wagner explain the March 5 voting on two text amendments.
To the editor, On Tuesday, March 5, the Alexandria Planning Commission approved two text amendments to Alexandria’s zoning ordinance after public hearings where most of the speakers opposed the amendments. Those opponents may think Commissioners disregarded the concerns of those who testified. That is not the case: all Commissioners heard and carefully weighed all of what was said. There is a distinction, however, between understanding the arguments made by the speakers and being convinced that the points they advocated would be good for the City of Alexandria. We thought it would be useful to explain our votes on these two issues. The first hearing was on zoning ordinance amendments to permit the development envisioned in the Waterfront…
Friday, March 8, 2013
The city's former vice mayor says the last Planning Commission meeting shows planners have done everything in their power over the last four years to squelch public opinion and input that doesn’t fit with the city’s planning agenda.
To the Editor: I thought we had reached the nadir in the waterfront planning process on my birthday a year ago, but I was wrong by a country mile. The new low point occurred just last Tuesday night when the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to push through the text amendment that gives the green light to rezoning the waterfront. This land-use plan will allow developers to triple the density along the waterfront, and build basically anything they want, including two hotels. The night had all the hallmarks of a show trial from beginning to end. The commission was dismissive, arrogant, condescending, and at times downright bullying in its response to community concerns. It would be clear even to a child that the City has made been no real …
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
City Council will consider waterfront measures at March 16 public hearing.
The Alexandria Planning Commission approved two zoning text amendments in a meeting that ran into early Wednesday morning that will allow the city to circumvent pending litigation and begin implementing a long-debated waterfront redevelopment plan, provided City Council signs off on the measures later this month. • See: Alexandria City Council to Vote Once Again on Waterfront Plan Opponents of the plan, who have spent more than two years expressing their concerns over new development on the Old Town waterfront, stated old worries and some new ones to the commissioners. Andrew Macdonald, a former vice mayor who ran a failed campaign for mayor last year largely built on opposition to the city’s waterfront proposal, told the commissioners the…
Alexandria resident Ken Hill believes one hotel on the waterfront is a compromise that will bring closure to the divisive waterfront debate.
Wednesday, March 6
To the editor, A leader has stepped forward to advance a rational compromise on the waterfront plan not unlike Councilwoman Del Pepper did last year. Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg’s proposed adjustment limiting new hotels in the waterfront plan to one would protect our precious resources and the quality of our environment. Further, this compromise would promote the economic well-being of our city while advancing the needed improvements to protect and enhance our waterfront. Its adoption may satisfy the interests of competing sides on the issue, help heal the wounds and bring a rational closure to this divisive issue. As early as December of 2011, Ms. Silberberg opined in the Washington Post about compromise on the Alexandria waterfront …
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Helen Desfosses supports Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg's compromise on Alexandria's waterfront plan.
To the editor, I am writing this letter to support the compromise Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg seeks regarding the waterfront plan. I supported her strongly during the City Council campaign, particularly because she understood the importance, in her words, of all of us serving “as the temporary stewards of this national treasure called Alexandria.” The waterfront was key to that concept of stewardship during the campaign; it has become even more critical to our city’s beauty and legacy once more. Because of the increased pace of council activity on the waterfront issue, the public effectively has one big chance left to get involved, and that is to attend and to speak at the public hearing on Saturday, March 16 beginning at 9:30 a.m. It …