City Council Passes Controversial Waterfront Plan
After a day-long public hearing, council moves to adopt small area draft plan.
Alexandria City council members heard more than 100 speakers on Saturday and then voted to pass the plan.
After three years of public hearings, meetings, work groups, letters to the editor and more, council agreed to move forward by voting 5-2.
During City Council debate on Saturday, members strengthened language related to the arts, parking controls, and limited the number of hotel rooms to 300 on the waterfront. They also added more specificity on building height restrictions.
"The new zoning is clearly giving us more control," said Councilman Rob Krupicka, adding that he respects the skepticism of those who want more details in the plan. "Let's make sure that we roll our sleeves up and that this gets implemented."
Mayor Bill Euille acknowledged that the plan wouldn't please everyone, but it offers flexibility and is a good starting point.
Councilman Frank Fannon said both lobbying groups Waterfront for All and Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan both love the waterfront and that's why those groups were formed.
He added that he is concerned over the density outlined in the waterfront plan.
"What are we legally going to be able to deny or approve?," Fannon said. "We live in a great city here...This plan could fundamentally reform everything that's down there." He voted against the plan.
Councilwoman Alicia Hughes agreed with Fannon about Waterfront for All and CAAWP, adding that she also has concerns over the plan.
"I am a lover and great respector of historic preservation," Hughes said. "The flip of that is development...I look at Carlyle...I look at BRAC" where there are some good things and some bad things. "Sen. Ticer said tonight that this is not ready for prime time...I can not support this plan."
However, she does support a boutique hotel on the waterfront, Hughes said.
Councilman Paul Smedberg praised the work of the Waterfront Plan Work Group and said at the plan's core it "hits upon several key areas that are dear to us as a community."
Smedberg said the city has special gifts - it's historic nature and the waterfront.
"I'm committed to making sure we do this right," he said.
Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said it's important to point out that "what has come before us comes from good work" that has been improved through discussion.
"I'm going to vote for the plan today," he said.
Mayor Euille thanked the citizen groups. "Nobody likes 100% of the elements in the plan and that's why we'll keep working at it," he said. "If we don't act on it, it becomes a political issue. If we act on it, it's a political issue."
Councilwoman Del Pepper says that she has long believed that the highest and best use of waterfront is to have grass and trees, but has come to feel that there are more exciting things that could be done.
"I want something that would be beautiful...but something that is reflective of a community that is thriving and advancing and moving ahead," she said, adding that she will vote for the plan.