Alexandria waterfront opponents vow to keep fighting

|
Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland,Alexandria

Opponents of Alexandria's planned waterfront redevelopment vow to keep fighting as the City Council tries a do-over of last year's controversial vote.

Their outcry stems from an announcement that city officials will vote a second time on the waterfront plan, first passed last year, to appease naysayers who have stalled the project with lawsuits since its inception.

But Andrew Macdonald, a leader of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan and former council member, said the idea was just a stunt for the city to gets its way and doesn't rectify his complaints.

"They've still not made a serious effort to work with the community and listen to their visions for the waterfront," Macdonald said. "This is clearly an attempt to get through what they feel should've been approved a long time ago."

Over the next few weeks, Macdonald said he will encourage community members to show up in force to make their concerns -- including building height, traffic and density -- known to lawmakers who have "thwarted the public process" since drafting the plan decades ago.

City officials thought the plan had finally come to fruition when the City Council voted 5-2 to pass it last January, but its opponents immediately cried foul, saying they had filed a protest petition that requires a supermajority, or six votes, for it to pass.

The disagreement led to a lawsuit, which is still tied up in court, and has delayed the city's plans to lure developers to build hotels, restaurants and green space along the Potomac.

But Alexandria officials want to resolve the lawsuit more quickly, and believe they can do so by ordering City Manager Rashad Young to rewrite part of the city's zoning law to better explain the criteria officials use when allowing redevelopment.

This will allow the plan to go back through the Planning Commission, and ultimately the council, where members will revote -- likely with a supermajority because new, pro-waterfront members have been elected -- to move the city's vision forward.

"There will always be folks who don't want anything done to the waterfront," Mayor Bill Euille said. "The reality of it all is it's time to act."

Bert Ely, an opponent of the project who is involved with the pending lawsuit, said he planned to assess the wording of plan, expected to be finalized later this month, before determining his next step.

The project is expected to go before the Planning Commission on March 5 and the City Council on March 16.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment