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Letter: Time To Move Forward

To the Editor:

The City Council recently voted on the rezoning of the Alexandria Waterfront. We were asked to vote on a Masterplan amendment that increased the density and uses of several key parcels of real estate along the Potomac River. On Jan. 21, after more than 11 hours of public testimony from well over 100 citizens and business leaders, the Waterfront Plan was passed by a 5-2 vote. I was one of the two dissenting votes. The proposed plan had many positive aspects regarding economic development and job growth, but it also had numerous negative elements.

I had several concerns. The plan lacked details on parking, traffic flow, and flood control, and the true economic costs remained unanswered as we were to vote on fundamentally transforming Alexandria's waterfront. Additionally, there has been a tremendous amount of concern from our community about the detrimental impact of overdevelopment on our city's historic waterfront and its fragile infrastructure. The final plan endorsed the seizure of private property through eminent domain as an option. I have voted against eminent domain in the past, and I encourage the Virginia General Assembly to pass stronger laws this session to protect the rights of property owners.

I am a proponent of an improved waterfront for Alexandria. It is important that the City and developers work together on specific proffers for each parcel and assess proposals individually, piece by piece as we move forward. It is essential that we have a complete and thorough understanding of what the impact on the community and the environment will be before proceeding.

I would like to thank the Waterfront Work Group that was assembled by the Mayor and City Council this past June. The Work Group consisted of seven citizen members who spent over 60 hours and 15 meetings reviewing, commenting and making changes to the plan. In the end, four members supported the plan and three were opposed. I have received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls from supporters on both sides of the issue, and it was encouraging to see democracy at work. I also commend the two advocacy groups that were created and saw the two sides of this challenging decision that the Council had to make. Now that the plan has passed, we need to come together and move forward for what is best for our community.

Frank H. Fannon, IV

Alexandria City Council