Comment Board

Latest comment posted 132 months ago

Beauregard Small Area Plan

The Beauregard Small Area Plan was approved by City Council and adopted on June 16, 2012. This comment forum page has been archived as a resource and is no longer active. To participate in the ongoing implementation efforts, please visit the Beauregard Small Area Plan webpage.

The City's area and corridor plans provide a vision, statements of principles, and maps and text outlining policy to guide future development within their boundaries. The principles are the foundation on which physical plans and guidelines for the nature and organization of land use, the circulation framework, the character of neighborhoods, building height, density and intensity of development, open space structure and functions, community benefits, and plan implementation are based.

This comment forum has been set up to provide an opportunity for members of the community to ask specific questions or provide targeted feedback on components of the draft Beauregard Small Area Plan. Staff will respond to questions regularly as they are received. In making comments, please be as specific as you can in identifying the concerns or questions that you have, and if appropriate, suggest alternatives that could be considered. The collective community feedback will be used to revise the draft plan.

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I want to thank the Mayor and the city council, traffic commission, and planning commission for your valuable time and effort given to the Beauregard Stakeholders Group. It has been a long, arduous effort and I am happy that you have seen the vision of this plan and approved it. I believe it is a step forward in bringing the west end to a new beginning. I look forward to to seeing our little corner of Alexandria finally grow and prosper. While 100% of people may not always agreed, it's good to see we can all come together and make a right choice.
Again, thank you,
Nancy Shanks
Fairbanks Ave

Nancy Shanks (311) | User | May 13, 2012 - 11:54 AM

Thank you for listening to comments. I think some new development for this area is welcome and while I appreciate the attempt to create in this plan a thoughtful and sustainable 'garden city' approach, I have several concerns:

1. Scale—keep previous limit. I strongly oppose allowing a 20% increase in development over the previous plan at this time, especially because the majority of the development proposed for this Plan is in the westernmost areas next to sensitive nature preserves! (Also in what is now a suburban-like landscape.) Compare this to other development areas in the works that you mention including Potomac Yard, Eisenhower East, and Landmark, which are all already industrial or otherwise cleared land and could support a much greater scale. I recognize the city wants to increase capacity for future population growth, opportunity, etc, but is acreage directly abutting one of the few nature preserves in this part of town really the place to max out capacity? Also a 130 ft. building in this western Plan area is not in keeping with your goal to ensure compatibility with existing neighborhoods. I would have a different opinion about increasing the development limit if the majority of the development was concentrated in the already more ‘urbanized’ area surrounding the Seminary/Beauregard intersection.

I would also eliminate the expensive ellipse from this Plan (and developers’ funding burden) at the same time.

2. Stronger language related to tree canopy or other strong environmental goals. In light of the developers’ comments in January that imply some resistance to the ‘recommendation’ for a 40% tree canopy for the Plan, I think the language needs to be stronger to ‘require’ 35-40% canopy in this Plan. I also agree with a previous comment that replacement trees need to be larger and more mature and native, not vulnerable sticks. There is an opportunity to make this project mutually agreeable and sustainable, but I feel that gentle ‘recommendations’ vs. ‘requirements’ may cause issues with the final product.

I also noticed that most of the canopy replacement is expected after 2026. Does that timing correspond to the finishing of each neighborhood? I think it should, vs. being an afterthought later in the project.

Here’s an idea: insert language that encourages the developers, wherever possible, to retain existing mature trees (there are hundreds at this site currently). I doubt it would be followed, but at least we could take a stand on the issue.

3. Traffic improvements just outside the Plan Area. The intersections 1-3 on Figure 51 (intersections of Beauregard/Lincolnia/Little River Turnpike/395) are currently terrible for both vehicles and pedestrians. Improvements will need to be made to these intersections to accommodate the influx of development just down the road—are any in the works?

Finally, I would like to mention that there is a lot of talk in this document about the future needs of the region in terms of more need for housing, shops, and office space to accommodate population growth. That is true. However, that kind of continued growth and urbanization throughout Alexandria and surrounding jurisdictions will also mean that fewer and fewer green spaces will remain—those that do, like the Dora Kelley and Winkler preserves will significantly increase in importance. Both for the health of our communities—as buffers and filters and funnels—and also as places for people to find solace and joy spending time in nature, they will become even more significant. These remaining places will face increased pressure to serve their role for more and more people. This re-development plan, at this time, offers the city an opportunity to also consider this aspect of its future: the conservation of its remaining natural places. This is an opportunity to enhance the size and natural function of these green spaces to help them accommodate their greater future role. I was delighted to see the greenway recommendation to link the two existing natural areas and the general increased buffer against Dora Kelley compared to earlier plans. But is it enough? I strongly recommend not allowing the 20% increase in development in this plan, and do recommend growing and enhancing these preserves for future sustainability.

Suzanne Homeowner (315) | User | May 11, 2012 - 5:35 PM

TO: The Mayor and Members of the Alexandria City Council

FROM: Lincolnia Hills/Heywood Glen (LH/HG) Civic Association Board
and Community Advocacy Committee Chair

RE: Comments on the Beauregard Small Area Plan of March 27, 2012

DATE: May 9, 2012

The Lincolnia Hills/Heywood Glen Civic Association Board and associated committee chair would first and foremost like to acknowledge and extend their appreciation to the members of the Beauregard Corridor Stakeholders Group, a number of members from our community, who persisted in facilitating the development of this draft plan presently for review. As you are aware, our community of approximately 450 single family homes sits on the border of eastern Fairfax County and the far west end of the City of Alexandria. Development and redevelopment in both jurisdictions is of concern to us.

Land Use
The proposed Plan states on page 4, that it “accommodates the existing and proposed zoning in a manner compatible with the adjacent neighborhoods”. Adjacent to the Beauregard Small Area Plan sits large neighborhoods of single family homes that are zoned R8, R12 or R20. The proposed increase within the Beauregard Corridor Plan of 123% above the existing built density and 24% above the presently allowed zoning level will create a significant incompatibility with our adjacent neighborhoods. Given the BRAC-133 office expansion in the corridor and IDA’s planned expansion, additional office space appears excessive.

We are encouraged by the emphasis on underground parking opportunities, versus the above ground lots now existing, though we encourage planning to provide adequate parking onsite to prevent overflow parking in adjoining neighborhoods as the plan progresses. Since many in our community are not within walking distance of the planned retail development, and presently patronize many of the businesses in that area (e.g., the bank, CVS) on a regular basis, we hope that sufficient short-term, free parking will be available to us for that purpose.

The connection of green space is supported; the expanse of green is why many of us settled here. We anticipate that greater access to Dora Kelly Park with the appropriately scaled street, subsequently increasing visibility, may inhibit the present “blind” littering that occurs over fences into the park. However, it will be extremely important to prevent excess storm water runoff into the park with the addition of non-permeable surfaces given the topography of the east side. To further protect the park, limiting vehicular access to this road, especially parking, will limit the toxic runoff. Incorporating porous surfaces and bioswales at the east park border encourages storm water absorption and water filtration before impacting the park. Remember, the park and green space is what defines the west end; please put ample planning into these design features.
Urban Design – Character
To further “fit in” with the surrounding, single family home neighborhoods given the extreme height and density differences that will occur with this plan, subsequent planning needs to incorporate building materials and frontages that reflect the west end neighborhoods and not create further dichotomy of design with the adjacent communities. As our homes were built in and around the 1950’s and 1970’s, significantly “contemporary” designs do not foster being part of the larger established west end community.

Urban Ecology / Sustainability / Environment
Due to the topography of the corridor, efforts to passively and actively facilitate storm water collection and filtration are strongly supported. Ideas including planting water and/or toxin absorbing plants, using porous surfaces, installing collection pools, bioswales, and rain gardens need to be entertained. Given the heavy downpours this area experiences and the subsequent damage already occurring to Holmes Run, there needs to be concerted efforts to control rain water runoff within the development, prior to it impacting the long term sustainability of the Winkler Preserve and Dora Kelly Park.
Realize that disturbing large trees is more than impacting the canopy; it’s the ability for the soil to absorb water. We support efforts to encourage native vegetation and the replacement of lost tree canopy up to the 40% coverage, not including the Winkler Preserve or Dora Kelly Park, to both enhance air quality and water absorption. We support the plan to install larger, more mature trees versus vulnerable younger trees.

Although the City’s interest is to create “a transit oriented, mixed use series of neighborhoods that are reflective of the City’s goal for a more sustainable approach to growth”, we ask the City not to forget that many of our neighbors who do not have an easy walk to regional transportation in our neighborhood or who are unable to walk in order to access it, still need to drive in and around the Beauregard Corridor for work, medical appointments and/or daily tasks. The Corridor transportation planning should not be created in a vacuum without forethought to those who presently live adjacent to it and also move through it. Most importantly, we hope that the City and developers will take steps to ensure that the present Metro 7 bus that connects Lincolnia Hills and Heywood Glen with additional regional transportation options will not be impacted due to inefficient access and movement through the corridor.

We support an integrated transportation system connecting Fairfax and Arlington counties including the planned Corridor C bus rapid transit system.

The city needs to carefully design and manage traffic light timing and traffic/transit movement on North Beauregard Street to prevent cut-through traffic from further increasing in the adjoining neighborhoods. There has been a clear increase in cut-through traffic in Lincolnia Hills since BRAC-133 opened. The safety of children, both on sidewalks and in buses, should be considered.

Community Facilities
A new firehouse on the west side of I-395 is long overdue.

The multi-purpose field concept is supported, as quality recreational sports fields on the far west end are severely lacking. However, community input is needed to clarify specific issues in protecting the Dora Kelly Park. Parking is not presently adequate at the Ramsey school for the present recreation fields, recreation center and playgrounds. It is strongly recommended that the city allow community feedback into the final design and location of the field and review parking options in order to maximize overall space and community usage.

Community facilities throughout the development need to be accessible for the disabled and individuals with limited mobility. Areas without curbs but with defined pedestrian/bike demarcations in the pavement are supported.

Affordable Housing
In the process of displacing residents during the phases of redevelopment as well as the final availability of workforce affordable units, it is important to us that the City and developers use fiscal sense and monitoring to meet the affordable housing goal set out by this plan. Based on recent testimony at the Planning Commission meeting May 3rd, there is still going to be a net loss of 200 affordable housing units on the west end. This will change the community and the City needs to be sensitive to the tenant’s concerns.

We, as board and committee chair members of the LH/HG Civic Association wish to support the Revised Beauregard Small Area Plan with the provisions, concerns, and suggestions noted in this letter. We look forward to continuing to be active in the subsequent phases of developing this plan.

The LH/HG Civic Association Board:
Bill Larme President
Open Vice President, City of Alexandria
Kathy Hart Vice President, Fairfax County
Herman Hohauser Treasurer
Aleta Embrey Acting Secretary
Julie Collier Edelson Chair, Community Advocacy Committee

Julie Collier Edelson (314) | User | May 9, 2012 - 7:20 PM

The EPC has a number of concerns but the three main issues are:
1) There needs to be a separation between pedestrians and cyclists on Beauregard. The hills will accentuate the speed that cyclists will be travelling at.
2) The City cannot afford to see its tree canopy diminish further. If good trees are to go, then there must be good mitigation elsewhere. This includes the site for the firehouse.
3) The EPC really questions the statement that the increase in population is not going to mean a corresponding increase in the school population.

Pennington (250) | User | May 1, 2012 - 5:40 PM

April 27, 2012
The Honorable Mayor, City Council, City Manager:
The members and Board of the Seminary West Civic Association find the Beauregard Small Area Plan to be flawed as well as premature and request a restructuring. It should not be considered by the Planning Commission or the City Council until this restructuring has been accomplished to the satisfaction of stakeholders, including the members of the Seminary West Civic Association. Members of this Civic Association are the only private landowners, other than developers and select Foster-Fairbanks citizens who have opted to sell their properties as a group for redevelopment, whose property abuts the land for which such major changes are proposed. The consequences of this plan will fall most heavily on our membership. For that reason, our Association joins the Seminary Hill Association in opposing this Beauregard Small Area Plan.
Some of our principal objections to the Beauregard Small Area Plan include:
1. Lack of a tenant survey within JBG property which should be completed with results before the Plan is voted on. With summer approaching and the possibility of people not being available for the survey, we understand from the Office of Housing that the survey won’t be completed until the Fall of 2012. No vote should be taken before that time.
2. The proposed Dora Kelley Nature Park road and environs. Environmentalists, naturalists and concerned citizens have all recommended against building a road next to a nature park. We suggest that if the City and JBG feel there should be a road, it should be for bicycles and walkers only; no motorized vehicles to be permitted along the parkland. Dora Kelley Nature Park is a uniquely fragile 50-acre ecosystem that, once infringed upon, will be forever lost to future generations. There are strong parallels between the Winkler Preserve and Dora Kelley Nature Center. In addition, there is no clear need for expansion of Rayburn Avenue to Sanger. Both the proposed Dora Kelley Nature Park road and proposed expansion of Rayburn Avenue serve only to aid developers. Both proposed roads should be eliminated from this plan.
3. The proposed ellipse. The proposed ellipse is a threat to the already congested peak period conditions in our community. The ellipse is nothing more than an old-fashioned traffic circle, which the professional community of transportation engineers has shown for several decades to be hazardous and ineffective in managing heavy traffic. In addition, VDOT is proposing a ramp from I-395 onto Seminary Road to give HOV vehicles and buses better access into the Mark Center. The ellipse is counterproductive to the value of the ramp, and the cost is prohibitive for what it is proposed to do. Ellipse plans have changed more than once which has caused citizen mistrust.
4. Corridor C. If, as the City claims, traffic has not been impacted thus far with the BRAC-133 vehicles on Beauregard and Seminary, there is no reason for a BRT on Beauregard Street. The cost and execution of such a transit plan which doesn’t address traffic outside the area, is flawed. WMATA and DASH service should be expanded to handle additional traffic when it occurs and plans for a BRT on Corridor C should be eliminated. The creation of a Circulator bus should be included in the plan since the Circulator would serve all areas where the BRT could not.
5. Clarity on interspersed affordable housing. JBG will “gift” two apartment buildings to the city in the future. Indications are that they will be converted into affordable housing. From the outset of the Beauregard Small Area Plan, citizens have been assured that affordable housing would be interspersed throughout this plan’s properties. To identify 2 buildings (Leverett Court buildings in JBG’s Hillwood property) with more than 55 apartments as fully dedicated to affordable housing, coincidentally located next to existing townhomes and isolated from the remaining new development, is not interspersing affordable housing. No vote should be taken on this plan until the gifted buildings issue is solved, with considerable input from existing townhome owners.
6. Proposed purchase of a JBG paved parking lot to be converted to parkland. By purchasing a current parking lot with $1.5 million from DoD for lost open space at the BRAC-133 space, the City is losing an opportunity to purchase open space which would benefit a much larger population, perhaps at the Hekemian site. JBG should be requested to “gift” the parking lot adjacent to the proposed affordable housing units at Leverett Court if they are serious about open space
7. Last-minute expansion of the boundaries of the Beauregard Small Area Plan. The public just learned that Goodwin House and the Hermitage are to be included in the development plan. If, as the City claims, this plan is transparent, the addition of new properties doesn’t support that claim. No plan should be voted on until all boundaries are clear.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynn W. Bostain, Seminary West Civic Association President

Seminary West Civic Association Board of Directors and Members

Lynn Bostain (302) | User | April 27, 2012 - 5:08 PM

The draft plan needs a section exploring the potential impacts on the Dora Kelly and Winkler Preserves with ideas to mitigate these effects. The two areas are too precious to leave to chance.

Pennington (250) | User | April 23, 2012 - 8:38 AM

As a homeowner and taxpayer in this area, I support of the plan and only wish it could happen sooner. Unlike the east end of the city, the West End has been largely forgotten without tangible improvements in schools, housing, shopping, transportation, and amenities. Those against the plan fail to recognize the current situation of the area or offer sound alternatives—keeping the status quo of poor emergency services, substandard retail and grocery options, poorly designed streets, and outdated housing will not improve the West End, increase the city’s tax base, or make the community a better place to live. I believe that the plan will greatly help to revitalize the West End and acknowledges the interests of residents, the building owners, and the city’s tax base. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good. I look forward to seeing a revitalized West End that enjoys the improved housing, shopping, schools and other amenities already in other parts of the city.

Alexandria Homeowner (312) | User | April 16, 2012 - 1:11 PM

My family has been a resident since 1955. I live on Fairbanks Ave.
Through these many years, i have watched a steady decline of the west end. An empty, derelict restaurant on Seminary Rd, A Giant grocery store that shelves expired items and cannot keep grocery carts, rising crime, poor schools. Traffic has increased but from what we observe, its from surrounding areas, such as Fairfax County. I am in full support of the SAP. How can we justify shopping, eating and socializing in other areas, such as Clarendon, Shirlington, Pentagon City, Tysons, etc, bringing our money to improve these other neighborhoods and watch them prosper when our own is turning into a rapid downward spiral. How many of these residents live in their sequestered little neighborhood but rarely venture out of them except to leave? If you really want to keep things the same, shop ONLY in the west end-such as Giant at Mark Center, CVS, or Landmark. It puts a whole new perspective on shopping doesn't it? ONLY eat out in the west end also, such as Finn and Porter, Clydes, Illusions.
We are becoming the land that time forgot. Alexandria is running out of money but everyone says 'Not with MY tax dollars'.
Since everyone has specific ideas and suggestions, please bring your development, traffic and zoning expertize to these meetings. Make sure your titles and licensing is up to date, your blueprints, and your own traffic anaylis and where you got your information. I know its expensive but if you are going to counter the ideas of others, make sure you can compete. I dont pertain to be an expert in any of these fields, nor can I afford the thousands of dollars to pay an expert so I do have to put some trust that these people know what they are doing.
The longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes. For 3 years we have gone over, rehashed, beaten the proverbial dead horse-lets finally move on.

Nancy Shanks (311) | User | April 13, 2012 - 12:58 PM

Attached are the written comments I prepared for Monday's Town Hall Meeting.

To accommodate the planned growth in the BSAP, a major public transit center with local circular buses should be considered for the BSAP. This would define the area, make it transit oriented, provide continued economic development and create a more distinctive community. The plan would build off of the current strengths of the community--a willingness to use public transit to Pentagon Metro and other nearby employment centers. Without a major focus on creating a public transit hub at Southern Towers, growth in the area will likely be limited, especially if there is no connection to public transit in Arlington and Fairfax counties. The current vision for transportation and transit in the plan area is insufficient. There is a need for a more integrated, comprehensive transportation plan that considers future plans for population growth in the Beauregard Corridor.

The collection of ideas centered around a BRT in dedicated and mixed lanes (not so rapid), the unknown destination of Corridor C on Beauregard, a potential regional transit hub at Mark Center Station, the Ellipse and a major bus station in Southern Towers don't fit into a cohesive efficient transportation and transit system.

Comments: Town Hall Meeting, April 9, 2012

My name is Dave Cavanaugh and I live in Seminary Ridge. I am a 38 year resident of the City of Alexandria.

I have witnessed the growth of the Beauregard/Seminary Road area and like most people was shocked by the City’s assessment of traffic that resulted in DoD selecting Mark Center as the BRAC site for the Washington Headquarters Service. More alarming is the effort by the City and developers to double down by substantially increasing density in an already congested area without any real integrated traffic, transit, bike and pedestrian plan.

Without a comprehensive plan we are potentially wasting money, jeopardizing the vitality and character of the community we are attempting to create and making conditions in the plan area worse, not better. More importantly, we are missing an economic opportunity to create a major bus transit center at Southern Towers providing convenient access for commuters living and working in the Mark Center area and traveling to Pentagon Metro.

My comments address transportation only—the different ways of moving people through the plan area; automobiles, public transit, bicycles and walking.

The transportation plan for the Beauregard Corridor can only be described as lacking vision and haphazard. It fails to provide a multi-modal approach to managing circulation within the plan area and providing convenient access to the Pentagon Metro Station and other nearby employment centers.

The proposed redevelopment is based on a significant increase in streets, a new street paralleling North Beauregard through the proposed town center, a dedicated high capacity transit corridor, a traffic ellipse at the corner of Seminary Road and North, and a transit way in regular traffic lanes through Southern Towers and Mark Center. There are a number of transportation elements that are missing or have been overlooked in the draft plan, they include:
• How will the proposed HOV reversible ramp at I-395 and Seminary, if approved, impact traffic including buses?
• How will reestablishing the transportation hub at one location at Southern Towers impact transit service? A hub must provide shelter for passengers platform areas for commuters arriving, departing or transferring to other routes.
• What are the design features for a public transit hub at Southern Towers that will accommodate the increased demand for commuter services over the next 30 years?
• How will the proposed new hub at Southern Towers be integrated with the transit hub at Mark Center Station?
• How will the proposed ellipse at Seminary Road and North Beauregard Street function to handle the expected increase in transit service? Will it impair local public transit service?
• How and to what extent will the short and mid-term traffic improvements already approved be incorporated into the transportation plan?

• What pedestrian and bicycle facilities will provide convenient accessibility for residents and employees to the bus transit hubs and retail centers envisioned in the plan?

The Transportation provisions in the Draft Plan should be reevaluated for the following reasons:
• The VDOT Chapter 527 review has not been completed. The report was submitted to VDOT in February 2012.
• VDOT has not made a final decision regarding the HOV ramp. If approved, this will create a major regional transportation hub at Mark Center Station, a feature that has not been considered in the current transportation analysis or the plan.
• There is insufficient information available to the public to sufficiently evaluate safety, functionality, size and impacts of the proposed ellipse on public transit, pedestrian and bicycle circulation.
The ellipse should be discussed as one option, along with others, for relieving traffic congestion. The Beauregard Small Area Plan should not approve or endorse the Ellipse until a comprehensive multi-modal study has been completed and reviewed by an independent group; including citizens.
The purpose and need for the ellipse may be reduced as a result of the short and mid-term improvements that have been approved and the early success of DoD’s implementation of their Transportation Management Plan.
• The Alternative Analysis initiated in October 2011 for Corridor C has not been completed. It is essential the alternatives analysis be completed to better understand the costs and impacts on land use.

• An origin and destination study should be completed on the Beauregard segment of Corridor C. At present there are no heavily used transit routes from Mark Center to Van Dorn Center. This is not a major destination for residents living in the plan corridor.
The Beauregard Small Area Plan process is being rushed and public comments regarding transportation plan proposals are being summarily dismissed. The technical studies performed do not consider other realistic options and are prepared to support predetermined outcomes. The history of transportation planning in the west-end and more recent studies engenders a complete lack of confidence in the analysis and conclusions reached in the technical reports.
Without a thoughtful comprehensive integrated transportation plan we cannot justify indirect or direct expenditure of funds for road improvements, potentially wasting money and impacting future development in the area.

Dave Cavanaugh (71) | User | April 11, 2012 - 3:39 PM

I believe that citizens should be able to hold their representatives accountable for their actions. In order to do that, we need to understand exactly what are the requirements (must do’s) of this development plan, not what are the recommendations (nice to have’s).

It would appear that over 95% of what this Plan talks about are recommendations (nice to have’s), but only a few substantive requirements are included such as the ability of the developer to increase the density of the area.

While I recognize that many of these recommendations cannot be known at this time and thus turned into requirements, I also believe that we must set minimum requirements at this point in the planning.

Due to the lack of good prior planning on the part of the City when it comes to traffic and BRAC 133, I would hope my City officials would have learned a lesson. They need to recognize that the traffic problems that currently exist will only get worse when they are combined with demolition and construction traffic once this Plan is approved and development begins. Therefore the City needs to set minimum requirements when it comes to traffic movement in the West End before they can expect this resident to support this Plan.

I strongly urge the City to create a list of minimum requirements for this project in all areas including housing, transportation, land use, open spaces, etc. It is impossible for City residents to understand fully what they are giving up and what they are getting in return when there are few, if any, requirements and no minimum requirements.

k hoekstra (310) | User | April 9, 2012 - 9:53 AM

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