Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Decision Reveals City's Biases

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Decision Reveals City's Biases

Vice Mayor Wilson's current newsletter has him again clouding the issue of his role in approving the Karig development by explaining that he voted in favor of the project because it is "by rights development" and because Virginia is a Dillon rule state. Such arguments don't fool readers because they are largely irrelevant in this case — a red herring. In its zeal to favor the developer's interests, the city ignored its own environmental ordinances, initiatives, and policies; an unprecedented level of quality testimony from opponents of the development; and overrode neighbors’ legitimate concerns about likely damage to their properties.

If (as Wilson says) the City Council did not have the power to turn down the proposed Karig plan, there would have been no need for a public hearing. Moreover, Wilson himself in a Nov. 6, 2017 email stated, "obviously there were a bunch of process failures within the city side and the applicants side."

Wilson and all council members but Mayor Silberberg voted not to remand the flawed Karig plan back to Planning and Zoning for appropriate overhaul. Mayor Silberberg, in stark contrast, followed the right course of action and dissented from the rest of the council's decision. Not only has Mayor Silberberg been consistently engaged on the important issues in Alexandria, as witnessed by her quality voting record, but in the Karig hearing she recognized two major errors the city had made: Planning and Zoning should have chosen the 57-foot setback from Seminary Road instead of the 104-foot setback and Transportation and Environmental Services was wrong to insist that no intermittent stream exists on the property (despite TES staff, city environmental staff, professional geoscientists, a 2004 Open Space Committee report, and others’ reports to the contrary).

All but Silberberg made no effort to ensure statutory protections for the existing forest, ravine, and water resources because they don’t value them. It's that simple.

Fortunately we have a choice this spring to vote for Mayor Silberberg, and for two other promising candidates as well, Robert Ray and Matthew Feely. Perhaps with more balanced views on the council we will begin to see improvement in the way things are done in Alexandria.

Nina Schwartz, C. Dara, Katy Cannady, Jimm Roberts, Cynthia Evans, Kathy Burns, Bonnie Petry, Joan and Denis O’Toole, and Robert and Suzanne McLaughlin