To the Editor:
The jumble of letters in last week’s Gazette supporting the waterfront plan either ignores important facts, misrepresents facts or makes statements that are nonsensical in the context of the waterfront debate.
A couple from Middleburg point out, as do members of City Council, that the increase in development is modest. It is a modest increase over what was approved in the waterfront small area plan of 1992. The glaring but ignored fact here is that the 1992 plan has never been built out. The three development sites are as they were before the 1992 zoning went into place. Right now developers could build new structures with a floor area ratio of two and heights in the historic district of 55 feet, the height limit the folks from Middleburg see as an important limit.
The new plan, for some reason presented as a text amendment, increases densities by another 25 to 50 per cent on each site. The actual increase over what is and what could be is at least 162 percent. Just building what is currently allowed with no changes is likely to produce major increases in traffic and parking needs. With the build out approved in the new plan, traffic on the waterfront could go from congestion to gridlock. How is that going to make the waterfront lively and inviting to tourists?
Next, a group of citizens signs a letter promoting that absolute canard that the properties that may be rezoned could somehow be redeveloped without the city government exerting control over them. No landowner would ever develop valuable property "by right." The by right development limits are too low. Every future landowner of these sites will apply to the city for a special use permit. Special use permits are granted after public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council. They have been the mechanism for control in this city for decades. Recent City Councils have chosen to enact special use permits that are weak in my opinion. That could change.
Finally, we come to the nonsensical assertion. Dennis Auld defends the urban renewal of Old Town that many Alexandrians who were around in those days lament by saying that before urban renewal we had prostitutes working on King Street. Mr. Auld is the same person who is promoting three new upscale hotels. Does he not understand that some of the visitors to those hotels will be, without doubt, members of the oldest profession?