DENSITY & ZONING
2013-03-25 Plans to rebuild the Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center are moving slowly. When the store will close is undetermined—was October, February, etc.—the Safeway spokesman said the store is awaiting final comments from the City to receive its building permit.
2012-12-03 The Planning Commission approved plans for the new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary. VTS expects to dedicate the memorial garden on October 20, 2013 and the new chapel in October 2015.
2012-03-16 City Council adopted the DSUP for all Colonial Heights property owners to build decks on their units. SHA had opposed decks on a few of the units that tower over homes on Fort Williams Parkway. Instead of a blanket approval for all of the homeowners, SHA had asked the City reaffirm its 1999 decision but allow balconies on a case by case basis. The Planning Commission and City Council both added requirements to the DSUP that may mitigate concerns of some SHA home owners.
2013-03-16 The Planning Commission and City Council approved a text amendment to the Zoning Code Section 11-808 despite requests from SHA and other neighborhoods that the vote be delayed until more information was available. Citizens had unanswered questions—such as when in the past 20 years this section of the zoning code was used and whether this issue related to the Zoning Code (a City issue) or the City Charter (a Richmond issue)—but City Council rushed the vote on this issue and gave only a two weeks. The SHA Board scrambled to have a special meeting in February to discuss and pass its resolution.
2013-01-10 SHA Board of Directors in support of residents on Fort Williams Parkway passed a resolution asking the City to reaffirm its 1999 decision that protected residents privacy and the quality of life in our neighborhoods by prohibiting all properties in Colonial Heights from adding balconies except in a case-by-case basis.
2012-12-03 The Planning Commission approved the plans for the new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary that would be completed in 2014.
2012-10-11 The City has approved the plan of Inova Alexandria Hospital to restore indigenous vegetation by planting Eastern Red Cedars and Crab Apple trees in the buffer area.
2012-09 Virginia Theological Seminary hopes to begin building a new chapel in June or July next year with completion expected by the fall of 2014.
2012-09 Alexandria Inova Hospital is working with the City arborist to develop a plan to restore the landscaping its contractor recently destroyed. This area is an easement controlled by the City of Alexandria and is subject to a 99 year lease that says the land must remain in its normal state – no vegetation or trees are to be removed. Recently, the Hospital hired a contractor to cut down small trees and remove a wide swath of vegetation ostensibly to remove poison ivy. When neighbors complained, the Hospital staff didn’t know anything about an easement. Finally, after neighborhood complaints to the City Attorney, the Hospital was ordered to cease and desist any more vegetation removal and to return the area to its natural state. The Alexandria City Arborist has told the Hospital what new types vegetation should be planted to replace what was removed.
2012-09 Alexandria Inova Hospital has no plans at this time ot build a doctor's office building.
2012-04-08 An employee at the Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center said the store will close in August 2012 for about a year to build a new larger store.
2012-03-28 The City is proposing a text amendment that would apply to section 11-416 of the zoning law that would include specific language to be applied by the Planning & Zoning Department when it grants variances in site plans and SUPs; i.e. side yard setbacks. The language of the text amendment and the date for consideration is not yet available.
2012-02-03 A fire at 5325 Polk Avenue (near Pegram) where developers have proposed dense projects caused the owner to tear down the abandoned structure that had created a public nuisance, including campers and teenage parties.
2011-12-17 City Council approved the rezoning for the Safeway’s property at Bradlee Shopping Center—a bigger grocery store and a commercial building (use unknown)—with promises from staff to improve the traffic at the King-Braddock-Quaker intersection known as “dysfunction junction.” The approved ‘Big Box’ store will not have access for delivery trucks from King Street. No plans were discussed about closing the King Street service road at Quaker Lane that citizens recommended to improve pedestrian access. No plans were discussed about adding more turn lanes in dysfunction junction that staff had proposed. Additional lanes likely require acquisition of land from other commercial properties in the Fairlington/Bradlee Small Area Plan, such as Lindsay Lexus, Radio Shack and/or the gas station.
2011-12-17 City Council approved the rezoning for the Safeway’s property at Bradlee Shopping Center—a bigger grocery store and a commercial building (use unknown)—with promises from staff to improve the traffic at the Braddock-King-Quaker intersection known as “dysfunction junction.” The approved ‘Big Box’ store will not have access for delivery trucks from King Street. No plans were discussed about closing the King Street service road at Quaker Lane that citizens recommended to improve pedestrian access. No plans were discussed about adding more turn lanes in dysfunction junction that staff had proposed. Additional lanes likely require acquisition of land from other commercial properties in the Fairlington/Bradlee Small Area Plan, such as Lindsay Lexus, Radio Shack and/or the gas station.
2011-09-15 SHA and Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association sponsored a town meeting at the Burke Library to hear about the proposal of the Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Ave. near Pegram.
2011-09-15 Many citizens turned out for the “town hall” about the Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group’s proposal to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Avenue near Pegram. Citizens and City staff note that this plan, like the previous one, fails to address specific criteria of the Zoning Ordinance listed in Section 11-410.
2011-06-10 Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group submitted a proposal to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Ave. near Pegram. The plan is denser than the previous one; the postman will not deliver mail to the project because of the steep grade and runoff onto Pegram Street should be no more than ankle deep. Citizens will have a “town hall” meeting to hear about this project on Sept. 15 at the Burke Library, 4701 Seminary Road, 7 pm.
2011-06-09 Safeway representatives—Avis Black, Lee Quill, and Duncan Blair—provided a briefing at the SHA meeting on proposed plans to build a new Lifestyle Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center. Basically, Safeway wants to demolish the old store built in the 1960s and replace it with one that is almost 50 percent bigger. In order to do this, Safeway proposes lifting the store up one story and putting parking at grade level. The size of the final building would be about a 3 or 4 story building. Safeway executives want to create a new life-style re-design with more space for prepared foods in accordance with today’s lifestyle. Safeway was unable to acquire additional property either from the Sun Trust Bank, the Sunoco gas station or the doctor’s office building. The store would be closed for a year or a bit more during construction with prescriptions available nearby. The new store is planned to open in the spring of 2013.
2011-05-13 SHA sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council objecting to the process used on the Waterfront Plan and requesting a delay until citizens could explore other options. “SHA supports a plan for Alexandria’s waterfront that preserves Alexandria’s rich history and unique character and that has less development and more public access to the water than now envisioned in the City’s Waterfront Plan. SHA requests the Mayor and City Council delay the final decision on this plan until other options are developed with an economic analysis and citizen support.”
2011-01-24 Panel on the development process in Alexandria—Agenda Alexandria is sponsoring a panel on Monday, January 24, to explore “Alexandria Development: Are Residents Part of the Process?” The panel will include Don Buch, a civic activist from Cameron Station; Duncan Blair, an attorney with Land, Clark, Carroll, Mendelson and Blair, PC; Faroll Hamer, the City’s Director of Planning and Zoning; and Jack Sullivan, a civic activist from SHA. The event takes place at the Holiday Inn Eisenhower Metro Center, 2460 Eisenhower Avenue. The reception begins at 6:30, dinner is at 6:45 ($25 members/$30 nonmembers) and the program at 7:15 ($5 non-members). Dinner reservations are required. For information or reservations, contact Sherry Brown, 703-548-7089 or email email@example.com
2011-01 Bob Garbacz of the City’s transportation staff, said that Safeway is hoping to expand and renovate its store at the Bradlee Shopping Center but that he had no insight into the scope or design. By the grapevine Nan has heard that the plans are very preliminary, not even at the "concept plan" level. Safeway wants a bigger, brand new, au courant grocery store. It will likely increase density and height (2-story building), perhaps with underground parking. Safeway may propose moving its building closer to King Street and adding trees on the West Braddock side.
2011-01 The residents of Seminary Hill and other parts of the West End are for solving the existing and predictable traffic problems of our area before providing land use and zoning changes that will increase density. Join SHA’s “Stop the Beauregard Corridor Plan” described on SHA’s home page http://seminaryhillassn.org
2010-12-06 Ken Wire of McGuire & Woods spoke about plans to redevelop the Steak & Ale property. WRIT plans to build another medical office building like the one it owns on Seminary Road just across Kenmore Avenue. The new building will have more than adequate parking—4 levels underground and 3 above—to meet the needs of both buildings. It will also have five floors of offices (the above ground size will be 8 stories). The project will be built by right with a 3.0 FAR. The concept plan will be available in 2011.
2010-10-14 City staff clarified the process for handling zoning violations, such as noise and odors. During business hours Monday-Friday call the City Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) Department at at (703) 746-4065. Any other time—such as nights and weekends—call the police non-emergency number (703) 838-4444. The more complaints, the better likelihood of response from City officials.
2010-10-14 Joanne Lepanto reported that City staff in Planning & Zoning are proposing changes to the Potomac Yard Plan for more density and changes to the grid roadways without input from citizens. The Planning Commission deferred the proposal.
2010-06 Pat Lidy reported that the subdivision of the property at 4448 West Braddock Road was approved and new homes will be built but the old tree and open space is retained and Ivor Lane will be widened.
2010-06 The City staff's proposal to increase their ability to grant zoning changes for businesses continues to cause frustration because it erodes citizens' control of development. If the City had the will and ability to enforce existing regulations—for example implementation of the Noise Ordinance and parking enforcement—citizens might look more favorably on simplifying the City zoning processes. Members of the Federation may meet in the fall with the City's Planning staff to discuss enforcement processes.
2010-06 The Beauregard Corridor Plan meeting scheduled for June 28 was postponed until the fall at which time SHA may mount a public campaign against any increased density in the corridor. The City of Alexandria plans poorly and thus the BRAC at Mark Center. While the debate continues on how to handle the traffic gridlock that development will bring, City officials are planning more high rises and dense development nearby. Stop the madness!
2010-05-13 Plans for three new homes in Seminary Hill—two on 4448 West Braddock & Ivor Lane and one at 508 Quaker Lane—and a renovation of the McDonalds on Duke Street at Wheeler were presented at the SHA monthly meeting.
2010-05-13 Deputy Chief of Planning and Zoning Barbara Ross answered questions about the City staff's recommended changes to business zoning that would include more situations where P&Z could approve changes to a Special Use Permit (SUP), allow more non-industrial uses in the industrial zones, and not count child day-care centers as part of the FAR of a new building. SHA board members will meet to prepare a response to the proposed changes that go to the Planning Commission on June1 and to the City Council on June 12.
2010-05-13 President Nancy Jennings asked that P&Z develop a better process for the nuisance abatement hotline because there is no way to enforce City regulations on noise and odors in a timely fashion, especially on weekends.
2010-04-08 The SHA subcommittee on proposed development at 21 N. Quaker Lane (Quaker and Duke Streets next to the church) will meet again in two weeks.
2010-03-31 The North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan was presented to The Federation of Civic Associations by staff and requires a change in the City’s debt capacity to fund a new Metro station. If the City issues $275 million in debt in 2014, the landowner of Potomac Yard will build commercial and residential buildings where the shopping center currently sits. Staff estimates that within 10 years (of what?), the developer’s projects will begin to pay more in taxes than it costs the City to service the debt. Lots of questions remain unanswered—such as why will this project succeed when everything Arlington has build in this corridor has failed—but mainly what City projects will not be done because funds are tied up in this Metro station? A few come to Nan’s mind: $32 M for improved sewers, $56 M for a flood wall/water break to protect Old Town, $60 M for Landmark Mall, $100 M to rebuild the interchange at Seminary Road and I-395, a new elementary school and a new firehouse in the West End.
2010-03-31 Hoffman’s plans for Blocks 12 & 13 in the Eisenhower corridor were MUCH taller than envisioned by citizens who developed the plans. The City’s Planning &Zoning staff recommended a 120’ increase from the 250’ limit bringing the tallest building to 370’ or 32 stories and the other two tower at 22 and 28 stories. Staff claimed the City would get a "significant amount" of market-rate affordable housing units (50) for getting 145,000 sq ft more in the towers. The buildings are expected to pay $1.3 M in taxes. Nan wrote to the Planning Commission in opposition to this project and explained why Staff’s justification of height is flawed.
2010-03-31 The City’s Planning & Zoning staff asked for a change at VA Paving as an Admin SUP that citizens and a member of the Planning Commission considered an inappropriate use of the Admin SUP vehicle because this was NOT a "minor" change. As of April 17, the Planning Commission was continuing to discuss this issue with P&Z staff.
2010-03-25 P&Z Barbara Ross presented staff recommendations of changes to the Small Business Zoning process; for example, erosion of the definition of an industrial zone by retail and commercial uses, increasing the number of allowable seats in SUP restaurants from 60 to 100, new definitions of restaurants, and a continuance of the $500 fee for street trees and trash cans that only new SUPs pay (retail does not). Comments are due to staff by April 5 Barbara.Ross@alexandriava.gov. The recommendations go to the Planning Commission on May 3 and to City Council on May 15.
2010-03-04 Harry “Bud” Hart of Hart, Calley, Gibbs & Karp made a presentation about a commercial development planned for 21 N. Quaker Lane and Duke Street (by the Apostolic Church). It would be a two-story office building with parking next to it and underneath it. Residents expressed concerns about three aspects: 1) its entrance on Quaker Lane may be unsafe because of it s proximity to Duke Street traffic that zips up the hill, 2) cut through traffic would increase on neighborhood streets, such as Trinity, since the building’s traffic can only turn right when exiting, and 3) the modern architectural style would not blend well with the residential properties on Quaker Lane.
2010-01-14: Cathy Puskar of Walsh Colucci, presented a concept by Michael Eastwood of Home Properties to redevelop the Seminary Hill garden apartments on Kenmore Avenue. The proposal would replace the 3-story buildings with 4 or 5-story ones, increasing both the number of units and the number of parking spaces.
2010-01-14: Nathan Randall of the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning described the subdivision request at 400 Princeton Boulevard at the SHA Board Meeting. Pat Escher also of Planning and Zoning opined that this project would not result in a McMansion.