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Activists Criticize City for Fostering Lack of Trust With Citizens

Speakers before Board of Zoning Appeals were largely critical of the city's process and said the system needs to be repaired.

Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals heard harsh remarks about the city’s conduct and the appeal process on a petition calling for the rejection of city rezoning of the waterfront area.

Public speakers largely who have staunchly opposed the city’s plan to redevelop the waterfront although a few voices supported the city’s actions.

Co-founder of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan Andrew Macdonald, who is also running for mayor, characterized the city as a “spoiled child who has done everything under the sun to thwart a fair and decent and honest process…There were a lot of meetings, but it doesn’t mean a good open dialogue and fair process.”

CAAWP co-founder, Boyd Walker acknowledged that members of the Seminary Hill Association canceled their meeting to appear at the public hearing “because they are worried that the Beauregard Plan will be written as a text amendment.”

Walker stepped down from the group when he announced earlier this year that he's was running for City Council. No one speaking on behalf of the SHA testified at the Thursday meeting.

Councilwoman Alicia Hughes, who said she spoke personally and as a resident living on Yoakum Parkway, said: “The law should work for citizens, not against.” Hughes was one of two council member votes against the waterfront plan on Jan. 21.

West End resident Jack Sullivan said in the past he’s successfully submitted petitions and found the city very helpful, but on this issue he said the city has been blocking citizens “every step of the way.”

Lynn Hampton, a member of Waterfront for All, a group supporting the city’s plan, said it’s important to remember that the political issues have been resolved.

Waterfront Committee Chairman Nate Macek and a member of the Waterfront Plan Work Group, said he is concerned that a minority of residents would be able to require a supermajority vote on an issue that blankets the entire city, such as rezoning. He added that a petition should have been filed by the first public hearing on the issue, which was May 14, 2011.

Bob Wood, who co-wrote a special report with Macek as a member of that work group, said: “The issue we’re discussing is trust – trust between government and its citizens…It’s not about legalistic language.”

Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Barbara Ross said a major “take away from tonight is that the city needs to address these issues of trust,” adding that is not necessarily an issue that would go before the BZA.

Susan Wannall April 14, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The ENTIRE process for this is horrible. As a resident of the Beauregard Corridor, what appalls me most about the Waterfront fiasco is that it's blinding people to the City raping our neighborhoods over here on the other side of town! We all need to be more involved and proactive in our elective process, there are too many incumbents that should be OUT of work the day after our next election ... that is if any of us still have homes here by then!
Boyd Walker April 15, 2012 at 02:17 AM
We do need to restore the trust in city government. I will be holding a press conference at 6 pm Monday at the foot of Oronoco St. next to the Robinson Terminal North to discuss this issue and how we can resolve the stalemate now at hand. We need to start a real dialog about the future of the Waterfront, and not accept a plan that is unacceptable to so many residents who live next to what is being proposed. I will welcome your comments, ideas and sugestions. www.boydwalker2012.com

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