Alexandria waterfront News Update — Thursday, October 8, 2015
Dear Friend of the Alexandria Waterfront, here is an important update on key waterfront issues:
Important Reminder: Robinson Terminal North before Planning Commission at 7:00 this evening
Tonight, the Planning Commission will consider approving the Robinson Terminal North (RTN) project. The Commission meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. this evening in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall. RTN will be the only item of business. If the Planning Commission approves the project tonight, it will go to City Council for final approval a week from Saturday, October 17. Clearly, the City would like to get this project approved before the mayoral and council elections on November 3. Here is the link to the 146 page staff report on the RTN project:http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=d00a55d3-8445-4eba-8191-fb97c8479fff.pdf Here is the link to the preliminary site plan for the project: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=3688eaa9-68be-4246-aea7-07c380c78f5e.pdf
FAWers need to zero in on key shortcomings in the RTN proposal, including the following, with staff report page citations in parentheses:
- A reduction in required parking for the 66 condo units, the 132-room hotel, and as many as 541 restaurant seats, from 303 parking spaces to 260 spaces(page 34).
- As many as fourrestaurants — one in the hotel on the west side of Union; the remainder in the east building (pages 27-28).
- RTN residents would be able to obtain residential parking permitseven though such permits have been barred for residents of Robinson Terminal South (page 33).
- Trucking rather than barging for 61% of the dirt to be hauled to or from the RTN site. That equates to 4,682 round-trip truck trips over north Old Town streets (pages 19-21, 101-102).
The report acknowledges the feasibility of barging dirt from the RTN pier (page 101) but claims it is more costly (page 102). Whether more costly or not, the RTN developer (CityInterests) offers a most absurd rationale for trucking away the dirt actually excavated for the project’s underground garage: If this project were located elsewhere in the city, the excavated dirt would have to be trucked away (page 21). City staff bought this rationale. What the staff report glosses over is the fact that the dirt which would be trucked over city streets and passed Old Town homes is highly contaminated! While the report notes at the top of page 102 that “the excavated materials, much of it presumed to be contaminated . . .”, in fact this soil is highly contaminated, the result of the operations of the Bogle Chemical company on the site from 1924 to 1976. Those operations were principally the formulation of herbicides the Southern Railroad used for weed control along its railroad right-of-ways.
As a 2001 report prepared for the City noted on page 44, “the [RTN] site is currently subject to a Consent Agreement from the U.S. EPA arising out of the investigation of arsenic contamination . . . the Consent Agreement also regulates the disposal of waste materials resulting from construction or ground disturbance on the property.” Here is the link to that report: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCkQFjACahUKEwiMi4HLqaPIAhUJez4KHYz_BZU&url=https%3A%2F%2Falexandriava.gov%2FuploadedFiles%2Ftes%2Finfo%2Falexandria_water_quality_master_plan.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEGp8BYayS4eJoT3__K7Rgbwx5rlg&cad=rja One question the Planning Commission should consider is whether the development plan for RTN addresses adequately the terms of this Consent Agreement, including the removal of contaminated soil.
If you plan to speak at tonight‘s Planning Commission meeting, you can sign-up at the meeting to speak for up to three minutes. Also, you can sign up in advance here: http://survey.alexandriava.gov/s3/Planning-Commission-Speakers-Form When filling out the form, plug in today’s date, the Docket item for RTN is 2; the Case number is 2014-0007. Also, tonight‘s meeting will be televised on cable channel 70.
Although the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) did review preliminary designs for the RTN project and offer an advisory opinion about them, RTN lies outside the Old & Historic District. Therefore, the final design of RTN will not be subject to BAR approval.
BAR approves buildings #1, #2 at Robinson Terminal South
Last night, by a 4 to 3 vote, the BAR approved, with very minor modifications, the design of buildings #1 and #2 (the two modernist buildings facing the river) at EYA’s Robinson Terminal South (RTS) project, which EYA now calls Robinson Landing. Opponents of the design the BAR approved have fourteen days to appeal the BAR decision to City Council. The petition appealing the BAR decision must be signed by at least 25 property owners living in the Old & Historic District of Alexandria. An appeal is quite likely.
Separately, on Wednesday, October 21, the BAR is scheduled to act on the design of the RTS townhouses as well as building #3, facing Wolfe Street. The agenda for the October 21 BAR meeting will be found here: https://alexandria.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=367189&GUID=4E8CF38C-B7CE-41DE-9473-A1F7FF7C0D10 Links can be found on that agenda to the documents related to the townhouse and building #3 designs.
Ad Hoc Monitoring Group for Waterfront Construction
The Monitoring Group met on Monday to discuss the numerous problems that have arisen with the Carr hotel project at Duke and South Union, including vibrations from the demolition activities and the many instances when trucks going to and from the site have nottraveled over the designated haul routes. Numerous steps to reduce these problems were discussed; how effective they will be is an open question.
The Carr project’s construction issues will now be addressed in on-site meetings that will be held weekly, on Thursdays, at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot lying between Strand and South Union and between the Carr site and Chadwicks. The public is invited to attend these meetings to raise their concerns about construction impacts. If it is raining, the meeting will held in an adjacent office. The first of these weekly meetings will be held a week from today, Thursday, October 15, at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend!
The Monitoring Group will next meet onMonday, November 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sister Cities Conference Room, which is entered from City Hall’s Cameron Street lobby. Sometime before then an agenda for that meeting will be posted on the Monitoring Group’s webpage: http://www.alexandriava.gov/special/waterfront/default.aspx?id=82590
Old Town Civic Association (OTCA) and the North Old Town Independent Citizens Association (NOTICe) are sponsoring a forum next Wednesday evening, October 14, for all the candidates in the November 3 City Council election. The forum will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium of the Lee Center at 1108 Jefferson Street. All eleven Council candidates will participate in this non-partisan forum. The forum is open to the public and will be free of charge. This will be an excellent opportunity for voters to hear the candidates answer questions about Alexandria issues, including waterfront development.
Who to contact about waterfront construction problems
Here is who citizens should contact with regard to specific problems they encounter along the waterfront:
- In a true emergencysituation (motor vehicle or bicycle accident, fire, explosion, etc.) call 911 immediately. Be prepared to provide details of the emergency.
- For non-emergency violations of law, call the police non-emergency number, 703-746-4444. Non-emergency events are parking violations, dump trucks with uncovered loads, traffic violations, bicycles running stop signs, and the like. Be prepared to provide details about the violation, such as vehicle license plate number, color, time of the violation, etc.
- For civil violations, i.e., violations of construction permits for the waterfront projects or other complaints related to waterfront construction activities, please contact Emilio Pundavela, the City employee designated to receive these complaints. You can call Emilio, day or night, on his cell phone: 571-221-8309. You also can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Civil violations include trucks not traveling over the designated haul route, excessive vibrations and noise from construction activities, construction workers parking on City streets instead of in the parking places designated for them, and any other violations for which the police cannot issue a ticket.
In addition to contacting Emilio, you also can bring your complaint to the City’s attention by registering it through Call-Click-Connect, using this link: http://request.alexandriava.gov/CCC/#tab=Find City staff are supposed to respond to a complaint within five business days. In order to track your complaint once it has been filed, you need to register with MyAlex, which you can do here: https://apps.alexandriava.gov/Login/COARegister.aspx and click on Create account. However, waterfront-related complaints requiring immediate attention should be phoned in to the police or brought to Emilio’s attention.
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