Subject: Letter from our neighbors re. development of Duke Street property

Action: We urge you to contact City Council with your opinion

From: Frank Putzu, President, SHA
_______________


In spite of all the opposition to the proposed Carr (Quaker Ridge) development provided by 3 different homeowner/civic associations, numerous long-time area residents, and land-use attorneys, and our arguments brought forward for the last 6 months about Duke St. gridlock, recurring traffic accidents, disappearing greenspace bringing more noise and pollution, the 6 members of the Commission (the Chair was absent) each spoke in their "what a good project" mode, voting unanimously for the change to the City's Master Plan (joke), rezoning from single-family to high-density, and Special Use Permit variances to serve the developer.  This was also in spite of the fact that one member stated she "must have received 75 faxes & e-mails today" opposing the development.  Unbelievable!!

Two years ago City staff formed a partnership with the developer and has worked with THEM to bring about what THEY want.  When the builder's attorney was asked if the builder would be willing to go from 25 to 22 units, the attorney lamented they had already given up so much starting out with 31!  The report from Traffic & Environmental Services last night said additional traffic provided (by 50+ cars) "would not be a measurable increase."  For who? Remember that the next time you can't turn left from Ft. Williams Parkway onto Duke because of the cars in gridlock, some of them waiting to turn left into Colonial Heights OR into the new Carr development (and there will still be NO traffic lights at these these intersections to help out)or when you're trying to get to Telegraph, Old Town, Rt. 1, 495...

The City Staff/Planning Commission mantra is and has been "I see nothing wrong with it--looks like a pretty good project to me" for all building. The clincher was that just YESTERDAY the developer closed a deal with the 6th hold-out single-family house (nearest one to Arell) where, if you can believe it, the owner will move "next door" to a new Carr townhouse while her old house remains on the lot.  And THIS promotes beautification of Duke? This is because her house was not included in the developer's original plan submitted to the City.  When asked by the Commission what was planned for this site, the attorney said, "Well, er...uh...more townhouses."  When asked how that fit with the current number of townhouses recommended for THIS plan,the attorney did not have a ready answer and mumbled something about they would deal with that at a later date.  Absolutely.  No sense upsetting the apple cart when you're about to close the deal.  The Commission member smiled slightly and said, "Maybe even open space?" knowing that would never be a consideration.  That's because the developer KNOWS they'll build on it and add more than is even currently agreed upon by the City!  Another Commission member said that if an application came back to them to build
more on this site he would "certainly not be in favor of that."  Does that mean he will vote FOR but not be in favor OF?

The City of Alexandria is the 11th densest city in the country while the staff has NO PLAN for density, for traffic, for the rights of the citizens of Alexandria.  5 single-family homes are rezoned for a 400% increase in that density.  The Master Plan is changed for what reason?  The City Staff said building higher-density at this site is consistent with the higher
density further out Duke St.  (There were MULTIPLES of Special Use Permits we are told by a veteran land-use attorney with the Phoenix Hill project just down the street.)  Builder needs something?  Submit an SUP.  Need
something else? Submit another SUP.  Don't uphold the SUP?  Pay no fine. (Reference the unbuilt PTO tunnel for the arrival of 7,100 employees.)

One of the City's/Planning Commission's continuing arguments is that the single-family houses do not belong in this area with all the existing townhomes.  Eileen Fogarty, Planning & Zoning Director, said, "It's difficult to make an argument against rezoning."  We offered that perhaps it would at some point be a welcome diversion if there was a less dense dwelling on this site (without changing zoning) rather than the rows and rows of townhomes starting to pop up on Duke.  Since we were not allowed to speak again at this public hearing, we provided alternatives/photos of such homes already in existence in Arlington, and a letter, for consideration. We hand-delivered this to each of the Planning Commission members' homes the night before the hearing.  That was met with "nice, but not appropriate for
this space."  So we'll approve rezoning, special variances for setbacks rejecting our own rules, and put in what WE think is nice losing 80-90 trees, increasing the noise level, and pollution, and worsening traffic but "not a measurable increase."  When we say in our letter to the City/Planning Commission that there will be a loss of 80-90 trees (according to the builder's own site rendering) the builder THEN tells Planning Staff that THEY will SAVE 83 trees.  At no time did they say they would SAVE 83 trees until we put into a slide presentation for the Planning Commission hearing Oct. 7 that they would destroy 80-90 trees.  How can you save what you marked on your rendering you would be removing?

CITY COUNCIL PUBLIC HEARING ON THIS ISSUE IS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15 AT 9:30.
IT IS OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE THAT WE HAVE EVERY HOMEOWNER PRESENT WHO SIGNED THE NO-BUILD PETITION.  CITY COUNCIL PUTS MUCH WEIGHT ON THAT.

PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US NOVEMBER 15!  WE NEED YOU!  This has been a long hard effort and we want to finish well.  We will continue to offer our best to support what you've told us is important to you, but we can't do it
without you.

A handful of us have continually lobbied Planning Commission and City Council members through letters, e-mails, and on-site meetings.  We are told now is the time to promote that LARGELY.  Please feel free to send an e-mail
to any of the City Council members with your comments to support any of the above views.  Go to:
http://ci.alexandria.va.us/city/amacc/ scroll to the bottom, and select the red "click here."

Thank you,
Diane & Richard Kain
Quaker Village Homeowners


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