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Alexandria Council approves Old Town redevelopment plan 5-2

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Watch ABC7's Mike Conneen's report in the video.

(Photo: Mike Conneen)

After an eight hour public hearing, and two years of debate and controversy, the Alexandria City Council voted 5-2 to approve the Old Town Waterfront Plan Saturday night.

More than 100 residents lined up to testify for or against the city's plan.

For much of the day, it was standing room only in the council chambers--even with two overflow rooms.

After several rallies and protests in recent weeks, opponents vow not to give up.

But supporters say enough is enough and it's time to move forward with the plan, like it or not.

Voting for the plan were Mayor Bill Euille, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, and  Councilmembers Paul Smedberg, Rob Krupicka, and Del Pepper. Councilmembers Frank Fannon and Alicia Hughes voted against the plan.

Following the vote, the City of Alexandria issued the following statement:

Today, the Alexandria City Council voted 5-2 to approve the Waterfront Small Area Plan. In June 2011, after many residents raised concerns about the Plan, City Council deferred a vote on it and established the Mayor-appointed Waterfront Plan Work Group to identify areas of consensus regarding the Plan; and to identify, categorize and narrow differences on concerns that residents had raised.

The Waterfront Plan Work Group held 15 meetings, from July to December 2011, and released their final report on December 20, 2011. The City Council and Planning Commission held a joint work session on January 10, 2012, to discuss the group’s recommendations. With their action today, the City Council agreed with the City staff’s recommendation to incorporate all of the group’s recommendations into the Plan.

Following an eight hour public hearing, the Council also added language to the Plan that:

* Protects parking for residents near the waterfront
* Requires all development proposals to receive an advisory review by the Old and Historic District Board of Architectural Review
* Expects a minimum of $7 million in developer contributions to arts, parks and other public benefits
* Makes certain that historic buildings will be preserved
* Reduces the number of hotel rooms to 300 rooms, with no more than two hotels with 150 rooms per hotel
* Underscores specific building height limits for each development parcel
* Encourages development of sites that foster artistic, historic and cultural uses
* Directs redevelopment projects to maximize open space along the river’s edge
* Calls for planning to begin on the GenOn power plant site as soon as practicable
* Creates a citizen group to oversee all aspects of plan implementation

The approved Waterfront Small Area Plan provides a framework for revitalizing the waterfront by

* Establishing Alexandria’s history as the foundation for waterfront planning and design
* Expanding and enhancing public open spaces
* Improving public access and connectivity
* Promoting the waterfront as an art/cultural destination
* Ensuring quality and compatible development
* Improving water access and boating facilities
* Improving services and systems (including an integrated flood mitigation system)
* Promoting environmental and economic sustainability

The approved Waterfront Plan balances costs and revenues, including enhanced park maintenance levels. Including flood mitigation, the Plan’s projected revenues will exceed expenditures within 20 years.

“The Waterfront Plan that the Council approved today represents Alexandria’s bright future while protecting our historic past,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “Over the last three years, countless Alexandria residents, businesses and City staff have worked extremely hard to build an extraordinary plan that provides the road map for revitalizing our waterfront gateway into a destination that honors our seaport heritage; provides complete, continuous access to the river; enhances the beauty of our shoreline; and celebrates our love of the arts. We approved a plan that will dramatically improve our waterfront experience, something that all of Alexandria can be proud of and enjoy.”

For more information about the Waterfront Plan, visit alexandriava.gov/Waterfront

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