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A possible end in sight for Alexandria waterfront plan debate

Sunday - 6/12/2011, 12:39pm  ET

Max Smith,

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - After years of back and forth between planners, the Alexandria City Council, and members of the community, Alexandria's waterfront plan may finally be moving forward.

"Even some of the opponents, I think, would like to see us make a decision so we can stop having all of these meetings," Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said at a council work session Saturday.

But several council members voiced support for holding another public meeting, which would allow residents to weigh in, but could make it difficult for the council to hold a vote before they adjourn on June 30.

Council member Alicia Hughes wondered whether making big zoning changes are worth it, saying "the quick answer is no."

"This is not land that does not have zoning, you got plenty of that in Texas... we ain't got that here folks. You've got a plan that's already in place," Hughes added.

Mayor William Euille had previously said he hoped for a vote by the end of the month, but he was jeered by the crowd after calling the plan "the citizens' waterfront plan," as he tried to dispel notions that the council was acting in anyone's interest other than the majority of Alexandrians.

He says the council will have to decide at their legislative meeting Tuesday night whether or not to hold another public hearing. That's because of legal requirements that residents get two weeks' notice.

Council staff say the $51 million waterfront plan would pay for itself in 25 years.

The plan includes renewed efforts at flood mitigation, which Councilmember Redella Pepper says have so far been "really embarrassing."

The staff did explain some alternatives to the current plan that could lead to more townhouses, mixed-use development, or public space. None of those would be expected to pay for themselves.

The latest version of the plan is available here.

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