Alexandria waterfront News Update — Monday, March 30, 2015
Dear Friend of the Alexandria Waterfront, here is an important update on key waterfront issues:
Great News! EYA agrees to barging at South Robinson Terminal
Friday, the City announced that EYA has agreed to use barges instead of trucks to move dirt to and from the South Robinson Terminal project. This is a major victory for FAWers and was the result of FAWers calling and emailing members of Council and speaking during the Open Mike session at the Council’s March 14 meeting. Here is the link to the City’s news release announcing this preliminary agreement; the final agreement will be incorporated in the Development Supplemental Use Permit (DSUP) City Council eventually grants for the project: http://www.alexandriava.gov/news.aspx?id=83804
According to the news release, barging will eliminate 7,000 truckloads of dirt that would have been hauled over Old Town streets past historic homes. EYA claims that barging will add $1.6 million to the project’s cost, but the City will soften that pain by authorizing EYA to add up to four additional units to the 92 units currently planned for the project’s multi-family buildings. That will be accomplished by reducing the size of the proposed units within the same building envelope. However, those four additional units will add to the number of cars that need to be park someplace.
EYA will still be authorized to truck construction materials to the project site as well as trucking away from the site approximately 770 cubic yards of demolition debris, equivalent to 70 or so truckloads. The City should encourage EYA to move at least some of that material by barge.
EYA’s agreement with the City should lead to similar agreements for the redevelopment of the North Robinson Terminal property and the construction of the hotel Carr Hospitality has proposed to build across Duke from the South Union Terminal project. Barging would eliminate the estimated 700 to 800 round-trip dump-truck trips that would be required to remove the contaminated soil on the Carr property so that a garage can be constructed under the hotel. Although the hotel project has been approved by the City, it is not too late for the City to work out a barging arrangement with Carr.
Disappointing news — Supreme Court rejects Iron Ladies’ appeal
We received very disappointing news Friday that the Virginia Supreme Court rejected the Iron Ladies’ appeal from an Alexandria Circuit Court decision. That decision essentially upheld former Planning Director Faroll Hamer’s decision to not let the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals rule on petitions by property owners protesting proposed changes to the W-1 Waterfront Zoning. In effect, the Supreme Court endorsed Hamer’s circumvention of an important protection the City Charter is supposed to provide to property owners. Here is the link to the Court’s decision: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/scv/orders_unpublished/140666.pdf This decision is harmful to the entire city and not just to Old Town.
As disappointing as this decision is, this case did slow down key waterfront projects, which in turn allowed time for the City, with the urging of the citizenry, to make important changes to the projects. The barging agreement with EYA is an excellent example. Although the Carr project has been approved, there still are many open issues regarding the design of the two Robinson Terminal projects. Hopefully at least some of these issues will be resolved in favor of the interests of Old Town residents and visitors as well as the entire City.
April 9 Planning Commission hearing on South Robinson Terminal project
The Planning Commission will hold a special public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, to consider the DSUP for EYA’s South Robinson Terminal project. It will be the sole item of business that night. Here is a link to the 152-page staff report on the DSUP application: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=9e36cbb0-e251-4f4b-b35c-54743adfcad1.pdf Here is the link to the preliminary site plan for the project: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=212a0664-cd57-4b9f-94b0-c8ff2c5f817b.pdf
It is important for FAWers to attend this public hearing to express their concerns about the height, mass, scale, and layout of the project. Parking concerns and the negative impacts of the project on the immediate neighborhood also should be brought to the Planning Commission’s attention. The hearing will be held in the Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall and should be broadcast live on cable channel 70. Next week’s FAW News Update will provide a more detailed discussion of the project’s shortcomings. If the Planning Commission approves the project, it will come before City Council for approval, following a public hearing, on Saturday, April 18.
April 7 Planning Commission hearing on proposed changes in parking regulations for multifamily residential uses
On Tuesday, April 7, at 7:00 p.m. the Planning Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in the Council chambers; here is the link to the agenda for that meeting: https://alexandria.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=376225&GUID=BB6F3B3B-6CBA-4E49-9426-68CF4941EE28 The important item of business that night will be agenda item #4, “initiation of a text amendment to various sections of the Zoning Ordinance to implement new parking regulations for multifamily residential uses,” i.e., apartment buildings. The thrust of these changes is to reduce parking requirements for new apartment buildings, especially those near Metro stations. These reductions will play into EYA’s request for a parking reduction for its South Terminal project. This is another important Planning Commission meeting to attend as these parking reductions, if Council enacts them, will impact not only the Robinson Terminal projects, but also future projects, such as the forthcoming redevelopment of the bus barn on North St. Asaph Street and the redevelopment of public-housing properties. Council will hold a public hearing these changes in parking requirements on Saturday, April 18. Here is the link to the staff report for this agenda item: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=3e001878-6a38-4f4f-8946-8bdaab5bd919.pdf
Waterfront Construction Monitoring Group next meets this coming Monday, April 6
The City’s Ad Hoc Monitoring Group for Waterfront Construction will meet next Monday, April 6, at 6:00 p.m., most likely in the Sister Cities Conference Room off the Cameron Street lobby of City Hall. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been established, but implementation of EYA’s barging proposal most likely will be a topic of discussion. Next Monday’s FAW News Update will provide more information about this meeting. Do plan to attend, though, as there is strength in numbers.
Old Town Civic Association to hear about the City’s flood mitigation plan at its April 8 meeting
At the monthly meeting of the Old Town Civic Association (OTCA) on Wednesday, April 8, Emily Baker, Deputy City Manager, and Tony Gammon, Acting Deputy Director of the City’s Department of Project Implementation, will address recent developments concerning Alexandria’s plan and proposals for flood mitigation along the waterfront. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the City’s current plan responds to the thoughtful, analytical critiques of the City’s plan by Tony Kupersmith and others. There will be an opportunity to pose critical questions to Baker and Gammon about the feasibility and economic justification of the City’s plans. You can learn more about the April 8 program and other issues of concern to OTCA in the April issue of its newsletter, the Crier, which you will find here: http://www.oldtowncivic.org/assets/crier-issues/april2015crier.pdf
As it usually does, OTCA will meet on the second floor of the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street. Socializing with neighbors will begin at 7:00 p.m.; the program will begin at 7:30. If you are not already a member of OTCA, you will be able to join at the meeting. OTCA is an extremely valuable element of the Old Town community.
Please contact us if you have questions about what is happening along the waterfront. Also visit www.alexandriawaterfront.org for up-to-date news about waterfront issues.
Do you know someone who would like to or should be receiving the FAW waterfront News Updates? If so, please go to www.alexandriawaterfront.org and click on the “Join Us” tab so that we can add their address to our email list.
Bert and Mark
Bert Ely and Mark Mueller, Co-chairs of Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront
Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront let’s OTP re-publish their newsletters to our readership. Please consider getting involved with the organization. The organization is free to join though contributions are welcome. You can sign-up to become a FAWer by clicking http://www.alexandriawaterfront.org.