Opponents of Alexandria's plan to redevelop its historic waterfront say they have no intention of withdrawing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the project despite the city's most recent attempt to appease them.
The group's decision comes just days after the city's Planning Commission unanimously endorsed the controversial waterfront plan, which would add high-rise hotels along the Potomac River. The City Council plans to take up the redevelopment plan again March 16 in hopes of restarting a project that has been stalled by lawsuits.
Andrew Macdonald, a former city councilman and leader of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, said he was disheartened with the council's plans to relaunch the redevelopment plan and said he expected council members to approve the plan just as they had before.
"The city has spent time and money to push its agenda and ignore community input," Macdonald said. "We're going to make them pay politically for their attitude."
Ever since the City Council approved the plan on a 5-2 vote in January 2012, opponents have cried foul. They tried to block the plan by filing a protest petition that would require a supermajority of six council members to approve the plan before it could advance.
The disagreement led to a lawsuit, which has ultimately delayed the city's plans to begin work on planned hotels, restaurants and green space at the foot of Old Town.
But council members now believes they have six votes to approve the plan by supermajority because new, pro-development members were elected last fall.
"This sets the pathway to continue to move forward," said Mayor Bill Euille, who insists a majority of Alexandra residents support the redevelopment.
Bert Ely, an opponent of the project involved with the pending lawsuit, said his case will "continue moving forward" even if the council manages to approve the plan with six votes.
Although Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg is the only outspoken waterfront opponent on the City Council, Ely said he hopes to convince at least one more member to vote against the plan, which would effectively kill it by eliminating the supermajority support.
"I'm going to try like hell," Ely said.