Happy Spring to all, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it every day! I have just a few updates to share with you.
Our next Seminary Hill Association meeting will be Thursday, March 10th at 7:00 p.m. It will be a virtual meeting. The Zoom link for the meeting is below. We hope to resume in-person meetings at our April 14th meeting. We plan to offer a hybrid alternative where residents can be on Zoom if they cannot attend in person. More details about that will be forthcoming later. Our speaker at our March meeting will be representatives from Alexandria City Public Schools to provide an update on the High School Project at Minnie Howard. We will see staging and construction activity beginning on the playing field at Minnie Howard starting next month.
Here is the Zoom link for our meeting:
Topic: Seminary Hill Association Zoom Meeting
Time: Mar 10, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 845 2411 7435
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+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
Another development project is scheduled to begin this month. The developer of Karig Estates has indicated their construction staging will begin on March 11th. The day before this staging begins, a walking tour will take place with residents who have been very concerned about the removal of trees on the property in order to identify which trees will be removed. As you may remember from my last email, there will be 4 houses on the site. The first house will be built at the rear of the property. These will be large, luxury homes of 7,000+ square feet and will sell in the upper $2 million range. If you want to see what they will look like, drive down Quaker Lane toward Duke Street and on the right, you will see a new house that is white with black trim windows. This developer built that house, and the Karig Estate homes will look very similar. According to the sign on the fencing the name of the development has been changed to Franklin Hills. Once the site clearing begins, the truck haul route will have the dump trucks turning right onto Seminary Road, then right on Quaker, and then left on Duke Street to access the Beltway. The developer expects the development to be completed in 2-3 years.
As I indicated previously, I am serving on the Stream Restoration Advisory Committee for Taylor Run and Strawberry Run. We have had our first meeting and our second meeting will be later this month. The mediation team from UVA is conducting interviews of key individuals who have been involved in the controversy over the use of Natural Channel Design in these locations to better understand where the city process failed. Our committee has had frank conversations with the UVA team about the frustrations experienced by residents during this process. We were heartened to hear the mediators say that the city has said that Natural Channel Design is now off the table for these two streams. We hope that will prove to be the case, as this would be a major victory in protecting these forested areas.
On Tuesday night, March 8th, City Council will approve the creation of an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee for the Duke Street Transitway project. This committee will be composed of 9 individuals whose role will be to represent the views of their respective communities and provide a recommendation for the design alternative for the corridor. As you may remember, the city has been awarded $87 million in grants to improve bus transit along Duke Street from Landmark to the King Street Metro Station. Residents and civic associations along the corridor are concerned about the loss of access roads and travel lanes if a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane is created on Duke Street, as you see it has been on Route 1 near Potomac Yard.
The Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations is sending a letter to City Council this weekend asking that the membership of this committee currently proposed by city staff, which will include 3 members of existing city commissions (Planning, Disability, and Transportation), as well as a representative of the development community, be changed in favor of adding more residents of areas along the affected corridor. While the proposed committee currently includes seats for a representative of the Federation, and 3 at-large community members, none of those at-large community members are required to live in the affected area. The Federation asks that these at-large seats be allocated to representatives from civic associations and homeowners associations that are located directly along this corridor. The Duke Street Transitway project is a transit project, not a development project, and the inclusion of a developer and a Planning Commission member puts unnecessary emphasis on the potential development aspects of the project, which should and will be considered later in the process. We will see what Council decides on Tuesday night.
The meetings on various parts of the city’s 2023 budget are ongoing and you can listen to the Council discussions. Go to https://apps.alexandriava.gov/Calendar/?sc=325 and you will find the calendar for these meetings. It is important to note that on Tuesday night Council will set the maximum tax rate for this budget. The City Manager’s budget does not include a real estate tax increase, but Council has asked for data on what additional funding would be provided with a 1 and 2 cent tax increase. It will be interesting to see if Council decides to set a maximum tax rate that allows for an increase, if Council decides that is their preference.
Last month, SHA heard our new City Manager, Jim Parajon, speak about his perspective on his role in our city and learn what issues are important to us. This morning, he spoke to the West End Coalition. In both cases, he stressed his belief that the engagement with residents is paramount and such engagement must start earlier in the process than it has at times in Alexandria. He stated that he is making this very clear to his staff, and we are optimistic that our voices will be heard early and often. Even if the outcome is not always in agreement with our position, it will be a positive step to feel that our views are valued and considered. Mr. Parajon indicated his interest and willingness to come to different neighborhoods and walk with residents to see first-hand what their concerns are. Several civic associations indicated their intention to take him up on that offer.
I will hope to see many of you on our Zoom meeting Thursday night. Thanks for your interest in Seminary Hill.
Carter Flemming, President
Seminary Hill Association