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Week in Alexandria

Planning without Rezoning

This weekend, members of the Alexandria City Council are set to conduct a public hearing on an ordinance officially incorporating the controversial waterfront small-area plan into the city’s master plan. Significantly, council members will not be considering the most controversial part of the plan — a zoning change for three sites slated for redevelopment that would more than double density compared to what’s there now. That part of the plan has been put on hold as the Board of Zoning Appeals considers two challenges to the rezoning and the Alexandria Circuit Court considers another.

“To some extent, the zoning helps implement the vision of the plan,” said Deputy Planning Director Karl Moritz. “So it’s important to have the zoning in place when a development proposal comes forward.”

That could be as early as this fall, say city planners. Washington-based Carr Hospitality is already preparing plans to redevelop a site known as the Cummings warehouse. Although the small-area plan approved by City Council members last week would increase the zoning from the existing 71,000 square feet to 187,000 square feet, that zoning change is now in limbo. That means that the developer could be restrained to the previous zoning of 125,000 square feet unless all the challenges are dismissed.

“Passing the plan without the rezoning is a meaningless gesture,” said Katy Cannady, one of the plan’s most vocal critics. “One without the other really doesn’t work, which is why they were originally presented and voted on together.”

The Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to take up the two appeals in April, although those could be appealed to the General District Court. And the Circuit Court case has yet to be docketed for a specific date.

Tall Tales

Alexandria resident David Lee Parker, 50, wasn’t all that he made himself out to be.

For example, he was never a diplomat, despite the fact that he talked his girlfriend into giving him more than $90,000 to relieve him of an employment contract with the French government. And he didn’t have any significant background in intelligence or national security, although that didn’t stop him from gaining access to National Security Administration databases. He also took out fake credit cards using the names of his elderly grandmother and grandfather as well has his own teenage daughter. And then there were the two investors he duped out of $120,000 in a fraudulent scheme to open a Hard Times Café in Europe.

It all came crashing down for Parker this week. On Tuesday, he pled guilty in federal court to a six-count criminal information charging him with several different fraud schemes during the last six years. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the access device fraud, 20 years on the wire fraud counts, mandatory minimum sentences of two years on the aggravated identity theft counts and five years on the fraud in connection with the computer hacking count.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 23.

East Meets West

Alexandria is a city that clings to its colonial history. This weekend, members of the Alexandria City Council will be considering a different kind of colonial legacy as members consider a special use permit application for Bombay Curry Restaurant on Mount Vernon Avenue.

Bombay was the name British gave to the capital of India. Now that colonialism is no longer in vogue, the city has taken to calling itself Mumbai. But the legacy of Bombay is still around, of course, in Bombay Sapphire Gin and Bombay Curry Restaurant. Since 1994, the restaurant has been located at the Calvert building, which is now slated for demolition. This weekend, council members will consider a permit allowing the restaurant to open a few blocks south.

“As if living in Del Ray wasn’t almost perfect, I’ve often mentioned in passing that I wish we had an Indian restaurant within walking distance,” wrote Wendy Maines in a letter supporting the application. “The more dining and ethnic options Del Ray can offer its residents and tourists, the better off we’ll all be.”