I hope everyone is enjoying our beautiful fall weather now. I have a few things to bring to your attention today.

 The City has now notified residents that Phase II of their revisions to the Noise Ordinance have been finalized and is seeking our input into the 10 proposed changes.  I urge you to go to the city website for the video presentation of these changes.  That link is:  http://alexandria.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=29&coa_clip_id=5166&coa_view_id=29. After you watch the video, you will be directed to complete a feedback form for comments and suggestions.  The deadline to submit this form is October 22nd. Finally, a virtual public meeting will be held on October 28th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss these changes. To register for this webinar please go to: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NisYV1PqSneDNYyY8F3BlQ.  Most of these changes will affect all of us in some way, so it is very important that residents provide input into what you think.

For example, the first change being proposed is a change to the current practice of noise being regulated by the “predominant use” of surrounding properties. If a business or institution is located in an area that is predominately residential, then ths residential noise standard is used for that business. The City now feels that this is not equitable, because different businesses are treated differently depending upon where they are located. Under the proposed change, the permissible noise level for a business would be determined not by where it is located, but rather by its use. If a restaurant is located in a predominately residential area, it would no longer be restricted by the residential noise limits, which are less than the commercial limits, but would be allowed to go up to the commercial noise limits. The same would be true for schools and churches, so it is easy to see how this change could have quite an impact on our residential zones. It was also interesting to learn in the presentation that current “daytime” noise limits are between 7 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Daytime apparently goes well into what we would consider nighttime.  Another change would increase this daytime commercial decibel limit from 60 db to 65 db.

Other changes being proposed remove the decibel limit for power lawn equipment because the city believes that is impossible to enforce, and virtually everyone is in violation of the current standard. In addition, the increased commercial noise levels now in force only in the Central Business District corridor (basically Old Town in the areas where restaurants predominate) would apply to the entire city under this proposal. I hope this gives you a sense of some of the changes and will encourage you to watch the presentation and then fill out the feedback form.

I attended a meeting on September 13th where the developer of the Karig Estates property, Mr. Ibrahim, spoke briefly to inform us that work will begin on the site in mid-October. He promised to walk the site before then with some neighbors and Temple Beth El representatives to ensure that certain trees are tagged for protection. As of this date, he has not scheduled this important walk through the property. There are still many questions about this development, but the City had issued his DSUP several years ago and he is apparently now prepared to start construction. We did not learn much about the homes, other than his assurance that they will fit into the neighborhood.  He anticipates that the homes will sell for approximately $2.8 million each. He will build the first home at the far rear of the property and that will be the model home. He will then build the 3 other homes in sequence moving toward Seminary Road.

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation held its 3rd community meeting on September 23rd to discuss the affordable housing project on Seminary Road next to the Fire Station. AHDC has also met recently on site with adjacent neighbors to address their concerns. AHDC continues to be willing to make design changes in response to suggestions by residents. They are still awaiting final comments from city staff regarding their DSUP submission. We are happy to report that after negotiations with city staff and AHDC, the zoning will be RA, not the commercial zone that the city had felt was necessary to allow for the units being built for Sheltered Homes of Alexandria. This was an important decision and SHA was a key player in this decision. If all goes well, AHDC anticipates going before the Planning Commission and City Council in December of this year. Demolition of the existing homes will take place in the Summer of 2022 and construction would begin in Winter 2022. Questions were asked about water issues on, and from, the site. AHDC staff discussed the Best Management Practices that will be used to retain and treat storm water runoff on the site before it is released into the city system. For example, the surface parking lots will be permeable, and large planters will collect water from the downspouts to be held and treated.

I want to remind you that the virtual SHA monthly board meeting will by Thursday, October 14th at 7:00 p.m.  The Zoom link is pasted below. We will have two speakers at this meeting. The first will be Annetta Catchings, Republican candidate for Mayor. After Ms. Catchings presentation, we will hear from Hillary Orr, Deputy Chief of Transportation for Transportation and Environmental Services. She will be bringing some proposals that the city is considering to help alleviate the traffic gridlock on Duke Street during the afternoon rush hour for the Telegraph Road ramp to 495. This will be an important conversation, so I encourage you to tune into our meeting.

Topic: Seminary Hill Zoom Meeting
Time: Oct 14, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 896 7958 2939
Passcode: 195848

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+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

In November, we will have our Annual Meeting and it will be an in-person meeting at our traditional location at the Parish Hall of Immanuel Church on the Hill. We have changed the date of this meeting to Thursday, November 18th, due to the fact that our normal meeting date of the 11th falls on Veterans Day this year. We plan to provide a Zoom link for this meeting to accommodate those who cannot attend in person. We are happy to announce that Acting Chief of Police, Don Hayes, will be our guest speaker on the 18th. I am sure many of you will have questions for the Chief.

Nan Jennings will be heading up our SHA Nominating Committee to present the slate of officers and Area Representatives for 2021-2022 at the Annual Meeting.  If you are interested in serving on the board, please reach out to me, and I will forward your information to the Nominating Committee. We are always looking for Seminary Hill residents who wish to get involved in SHA.

As always, thank you for your attention to matters that are important to Seminary Hill. Enjoy this fall season and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Carter Flemming, President, Seminary Hill Association

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