Iron Ladies of Old Town Challenge Waterfront Plan

Iron Ladies of Old Town Challenge Waterfront Plan

Appeal of protest petition to move forward, either in Circuit Court or Board of Zoning Appeals.

The waterfront plan increases density at three sites and allows hotels.

The waterfront plan increases density at three sites and allows hotels. Photo courtesy of the Waterfront Plan Work Group


Attorney Roy Shannon speaks before City Council members during the public hearing on the waterfront, presenting an appeal to city officials and asking council members to stay the vote.

The controversial waterfront small-area plan may have squeaked through City Hall on a five-to-two vote last month, but a final resolution could be months away. That’s because a handful of opponents are girding for a fight, although the time and location have yet to be worked out.

At the center of the action are three Alexandria residents supporters have taken to calling the “Iron Ladies of Old Town,” April Burke, Marie Kux and Beth Gibney. They own property adjacent to the rezoned properties and are among the hundreds of people who signed a protest petition requesting that a supermajority of six votes should be required to pass the plan, which increased density at three sites on the waterfront. Along with two other Alexandria residents who do not own property adjacent to the rezoned properties, Mark Mueller and waterfront plan work group member Bert Ely, the gang of five has hired attorney Roy Shannon to lead the charge.

But their course has yet to be charted.

One scenario would involve going directly to Alexandria Circuit Court, arguing that the group has already filed an appeal of a determination that the protest petition requesting a supermajority is not valid. Shannon attempted to present the appeal to Planning Director Faroll Hamer during the waterfront public hearing, but city officials say the government is not “open for business” during public hearings. Shannon could argue that the appeal was rightfully presented but city officials refused to accept it because it could have delayed the vote. Another scenario would be to present the appeal to planning officials once again and wait for a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“We’re about to begin a major fundraising effort on their behalf to help raise money for the legal bills,” said former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald, a co-chairman of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan. “We obviously disagree with the vote, and this is our way of staying involved with the issue.”