I hope all of you enjoyed a safe Thanksgiving holiday. I know for many of us it was not the holiday we traditionally have, but we all need to do our part to keep our community as safe as we can during this increase in the pandemic.
SHA will hold its December meeting on Thursday, December 10th at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be virtual and the Zoom link will be pasted below this letter and all are welcome to participate in our meeting. Our agenda is posted on this website under the Minutes and Agenda tab on the Home page. We will be having a presentation on the High School Project at Minnie Howard, and then will discuss other city issues of interest and concern. For those of you who have not followed the High School Project, the current Minnie Howard campus will be redeveloped to accommodate the increased number of high school students. It will no longer be just the 9th Grade Center. Final details of what educational programs will be offered at the TC Williams site and the new Minnie Howard site will be decided upon by the School Board. The new building will be constructed on the current field space at Minnie Howard, and then when the new building is complete, the old building will be torn down and new sports fields will be constructed there. In addition, the construction proposal also includes the possibility of an aquatic center there, and affordable housing on the site as well. Placing adult housing on school sites is something that has elicited a great deal of interest and concern by residents, and SHA will continue to follow this process very closely.
In other school news, the removal of the current Douglas MacArthur school building is expected to begin this month. As you may be aware, ACPS has purchased the house immediately to the west of the playground area, and that home will be torn down, and that land will be part of the new, much larger, MacArthur School.
In January, the Planning Commission and City. Council will also approve a final plan to allow Accessory Dwelling Units to be constructed in the city. Staff recommendations for these units were recently released to the public. Staff is recommending that the units be allowed to become temporary rentals, e.g. Airbnb. The setbacks for these units will be only one foot from the property line if the structure has no windows facing another property, or 3 feet if it does have windows. Staff had initially supported a requirement that either the main dwelling unit, or the accessory dwelling unit, be occupied by the owner. SHA has recently learned that the City Attorney has questioned the legality of such a requirement, so this may not be a part of the staff report to City Council. The Board of SHA has not taken a position on ADUs at this time, so if you wish to share your thoughts, please do so this month.
Another matter of concern to SHA is the proposal by the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation to tear down two single-family homes adjacent to Firehouse 206 on Seminary Road and replace them with an affordable housing multi-family apartment building of 52 units and an additional 15 townhomes. The development will also make use of the vacant land next to the Fire Station that is owned by the City. This project will require a zoning change from Single Family Zoning to the new Residential Multi-Family Zone that the City recently created. Aside from the many concerns SHA has about the terrain and the stormwater issues on this site, we do not want to see this parcel within our association boundaries become the precedent to overturn single-family zoning and permit multi-family buildings all across the city.
Finally, the City will begin the process of community engagement in 2021 for the planning of the Duke Street Transitway. This will involve either widening Duke Street between Landmark and Telegraph Road, or taking away car travel or access roadways along this stretch of Duke Street. This is a plan that was created a number of years ago and the City has now received $87 million to create a bus corridor here. Many residents have questioned the need for such a bus lane, when the true bottleneck of this road is the ramp to Telegraph Road and I-495. No funding in this Transitway Plan will address that major choke point for drivers, as the Transitway route is designed to connect Landmark with the King Street Metro station. SHA will participate in all opportunities to discuss this plan that can have a negative affect on car travel on Duke Street.
These are just a few of the issues that SHA will be involved in during 2021. Please do not hesitate to communicate with your SHA board to let us know your thoughts and concerns about any issues. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that SHA can now accept donations via PayPal on this website. SHA no longer charges dues, as all residents living within our boundaries are represented by SHA. We do reply upon contributions to defray costs of website development and maintenance, to fund FOIA requests to obtain needed information from the City, and to support our communications with residents. You can click on the "Donate" icon on our website homepage, and make a contribution via PayPal, or by check if you prefer.
The SHA board wishes all of you a safe and happy holiday season. We all hope we can meet together in person again sometime in 2021. For now, we want to remain safe so we can enjoy a healthy 2021. Here is the Zoom link for our meeting on December 10th:
Topic: Seminary Hill Association Board Meeting
Time: Dec 10, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 890 6955 4090
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Carter Flemming, President, Seminary Hill Association