There are several important issues coming up in the coming weeks and months, and I want to give you a few key meeting dates in case you want to attend. Our next monthly meeting of the SHA board will be Thursday, March 12 th at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel on the Hill Church at 3606 Seminary Road. Our guest speaker will be Rod Simmons, Natural Resources Manager for the Department of Recreation and Parks. He will speak on the natural resources in the Seminary Hill area and how best to protect them, including our tree canopy.
As you may be aware, the city is embarking upon a process to look at the predicted shortage of housing units in our region. According to the Council of Governments (COG), there will be a shortfall of 75,000 housing units across our region over the next 10 years. To help meet that shortage, COG has assigned each jurisdiction a suggested increase in housing production. For Alexandria, they have recommended that we increase yearly production of housing from our current 840 units to 1,150 units per year for the next 10 years. Of those additional 310 units per year, we are asked to commit that 75% of them be affordable to households of low to moderate incomes. It is important to remember that COG is a voluntary organization and their recommendations do not have the power of law, unless our elected officials chose to formally adopt them as city policy.
The first meeting to introduce the city staff’s plan to support the production of this increased housing will be TONIGHT at the Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 in Council chambers at City Hall. This item is number 8 on their agenda and it will be an overview of the anticipated 3-year timeline for this plan. As part of this plan, there will be consideration of increasing height limits, increasing density, and altering single family zoning. Public testimony will be permitted tonight and you can sign up to speak when you attend the meeting. You can go to the city’s website and download the full staff report on this issue. The Planning Commission meetings are televised on local cable tv if you cannot attend in person.
The first component of this plan will be the consideration of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These are additional living facilities that are built on the site of existing homes and are often called “granny flats”. There will be two community meetings held to discuss this specific proposal. The first will be held on Thursday, March 12 th at 6:30 p.m. at the Mt. Vernon Rec Center at 2701 Commonwealth Avenue. This unfortunately conflicts with our SHA board meeting. The second meeting will be at Beatley Library on Monday, March 30 th at 6:30 p.m.
There has been a great deal of interest in the issue of co-location and shared use on school and city sites. These shared uses would include recreation, health, childcare, and affordable housing. City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed a draft guiding Resolution for City Council and School Board to consider adopting. There is a Budget Work Session tomorrow night, Wednesday, March 4 th, between the School Board and City Council from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at ACPS Headquarters at 1340 Braddock Place. This Resolution is expected to be discussed at that meeting. As you may remember, housing was brought up as part of the MacArthur rebuild, but due to the accelerated timeline for the MacArthur project, it was withdrawn. It will, however, be a consideration for all future school rebuilding projects. Since this meeting is a work session, no public speaking will be allowed. I believe this meeting will also be televised on local cable tv.
There will be a community meeting for the MacArthur rebuild project on Monday, March 16 th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the school library. Residents can see the proposed design for the school that was recently approved by the School Board. The next public meeting will not be until sometime in May.
Finally, as you may have seen, City Manager Mark Jinks has now put $6 million into the Capital Improvements Budget to make repairs to the Holmes Run Trail. Based upon questions and research by Seminary Hill residents, Seminary Hill Association sent a letter to City Council questioning why grant funding was not being sought for this heavily used pedestrian and bike trail in favor of the Seminary Road sidewalk project. This resulted in
questions from Council members to the City Manager, and funding was secured for the project. The repairs are extensive and will take several years to design and complete, but at least the project is now in the city’s budget. We can be proud of this outcome, especially since SHA has recently been falsely accused of being “anti-bike and pedestrians”. This effort demonstrates that SHA does advocate for biking and walking in appropriate locations, and validates the important role that civic associations can play in our city. Thank you for your interest in the Seminary Hill Association and I hope to see you at one of our monthly meetings soon. Please let us know if there are issues that you would like SHA to consider at future meetings.
President, Seminary Hill Association