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Lynn Bostain (user 302) - Comments by Date

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 | Beauregard Small Area Plan

Lynn Bostain’s comments on the Working Draft, Beauregard Small Area Plan
February 7, 2012

These comments are based on first look at the entire plan; some may have already been raised (but I don’t see that they were noted or they need more scrutiny and community input, in my opinion). I appreciate the opportunity to comment on them, and I hope the City listens to its citizens who actually live in the jurisdictional area of the Beauregard Small Area Plan.
Regional and Local Context
Pg. 5: C. There’s mention of “adjoining jurisdictions” in Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Columbia Pike’s changes will most likely be much less than was originally introduced, so this should draw attention to the much talked-about joining up of traffic solutions on Columbia Pike with the much talked-about Beauregard Street “improvements.” I’ve pointed out many times that so-called improvements aren’t necessarily improvements at all, but should be called “changes”. Not as rosy, but more accurate. Also, where is mention of the Pentagon route here since most of what’s occurring on Beauregard is due to the BRAC construction?

Vision and Guiding Elements
Pg. 6: #3. #4 states “To provide dedicated affordable and workforce housing.” Current plan doesn’t do this. In the following paragraph, …”The Plan also recommends the developers contribute $147.5 million to fund public improvements…” Recommends should be changed to demands (or something stronger than recommends)
Pg. 6: D. Integrating Urban Ecology – Sustainability. This needs a LOT of work and the Dora Kelley Nature Park (name implies that this park is more than a City park—it’s a Nature Park and Wildlife Sanctuary; very different from a “city park”) needs to be brought into the equation. This Nature Park and Sanctuary needs to be protected from all current and future development. It’s protected in perpetuity.
Pg. 10: A., 1st bullet. ”minimize the number of car trips”. This is exactly why we don’t need a road next to the Dora Kelley Nature Park. See above.
Pg. 11: C. “The Plan recommends a significant level of replacement of affordable and workforce housing…” What’s being recommended in the Plan isn’t significant at all! It’s less than what’s there now!
Pg. 11: E. “The Plan also expands the Dora Kelley Nature Park. The proposed new open spaces, parks, and greenways will constitute approximately 45 acres. Where is this 45 acre area? My understanding is that the current Dora Kelley Nature Park is 50 acres. I’m not seeing the additional 45 acres.

Urban Design-Plan Framework
Pg. 21: 5 types of streets. The ellipse is included in this plan although the proposed funding won’t cover the entire cost of this design. There’s also no mention here of the proposed VDOT ramp. Where does that figure in? This section is very misleading.
Pg. 22: Ellipse. See above Shouldn’t be included at this time.
Pg. 23: Dotted area adjacent to Dora Kelley Nature Park. There should be no road next to a Nature Park!
Pg. 23-24 maps. We’ve requested numerous times that Rayburn Avenue not be extended to Sanger. To date, there has been no design to show that it wouldn’t attract much more traffic than it now has. Rayburn Avenue residents do not want this street extended.
Pg. 29: J. Vistas. If vistas are to be included for all people, the area fronting Dora Kelley Nature Park should have no road next to the Nature Park.
Pg. 32: 3.19. Much more discussion is needed about North Beauregard Street and transit lanes.
Pg. 32: 3.21 and 3.22. More emphasis: NO road facing toward Dora Kelley Nature Park

Land Use
Pg. 44: Concentration of Retail. The proposed retail looks much larger than what has been presented to date.

Pg. 44: Building Types-Heights. Office building heights range from 90 to 110 ft (isn’t this 9-11 stories? Not what page 47 says) Existing buildings: “The existing high-rise residential buildings range from 120 ft to 170 ft. I think this is 12-17 stories high. Where are the existing buildings that are that tall on the map on pg. 47?

Pg. 53: I. Open Space: Emphasis needs to be on the fact that Dora Kelley is a Nature Park and Sanctuary; NOT an ordinary City Park.

Pg. 68: Table 4. Are the figures shown here, especially for hotel and optional retail the same numbers that were given the BCSG originally? These seem higher.

Pg. 70: Building Height – Types: What does the 2nd sentence mean—“…maximum heights the future zoning will establish minimum heights for each neighborhood.” What is meant by a “minimum height?”

Pg. 72: 4.35. #4.35, “The greenway, Dora Kelley extension (?) and the park within the Upland Park neighborhood will be dedicated to the City. The remainder of the open spaces will provide a perpetual public access easement and will be privately maintained.” The 2nd sentence is disturbing. Needs explanation, and the whole proposition needs extensive public discussion.

Pg. 76: There are many aspects of the plan on this page that need a lot of public discussion and study. For example, why are there only 700 replacement affordable and workforce housing units? The paragraph, “The City defines housing as affordable if the cost of the housing and its related expenses….” also needs a great deal of study and public discussion.

Pg. 77: Paragraph beginning, “The Plan does not currently contain any publicly-assisted affordable, non-profit owned, Resolution 830 or ARHA owned public housing units. In addition, there is currently not a single dedicated affordable housing unit in the Plan area.” This needs a great deal of study and scrutiny. The City is developing more and more upscale areas with proposed hotels and restaurants. Where does the City believe the workers in these establishments who are not generally seen by the public (i.e., housekeeping staff, busboys, cleaning staff, etc.) are going to come from? They certainly won’t take 2 or more buses to come to work in a congested area if they’re able to find work closer to where they live.

Pg. 77: Paragraph B. The current affordable and workforce housing units section needs much more scrutiny.

Pg. 79: D. Ensuring Economic Sustainability. This paragraph says what the City needs to do, and the final sentence is most important! Without committed affordable housing, Alexandria may (change to “will” lose talented human capital and its associated consumer spending to other jurisdictions. This important point needs illumination!

Pg. 80: Phase I – Tenant Assistance. The point is made that funding for affordable and workforce housing “does not become available until approximately after 2020.” My question is, what happens between now and 2020?

Pg. 84: 2nd paragraph. The paragraph beginning “JBG has offered and the City has conceptually agreed to….transfer ownership of two existing multifamily buildings in the Hillwood community to the City….sometime in about 2010. The timing of the transfer depends on current financing restrictions. These 56 units, …” As I understand it, there are only 700 affordable units to replace what’s being lost, and this transfer adds only 56 additional units. That’s not enough.

Urban Ecology Sustainability
Pg. 93: Stream restoration. I’m not clear about the location of “Turkey Run”, but if it’s the stream running south from the Chambliss entrance to the Dora Kelley Nature Park/Wildlife Sanctuary, there’s been considerable damage already done by the City. Riprap was installed at the beginning of that stream, killing at least 3 mature trees, one a beautiful healthy Oak. Everything that has been done subsequent to that has resulted in dumping of huge quantities of rock or dirt at the base of trees which has killed an additional 5 or 6 well-established trees. Large machinery is brought into the Nature Park which leaves huge tire tracks that are left and then fill with water and mud. This results in large amounts of silt in the waterway. What’s been done so far in the Dora Kelley Nature Park’s streams is disgraceful.

Pg. 96: 6.1 h. “Install LED of comparable efficiency lighting that will also be dark skies compliant.” I don’t believe that what the Winklers installed throughout the complex meets this requirement. The lights that are there now are blindingly-bright. Certainly not “dark skies compliant.”

Pg. 97: Aspirational goals. We need discussion about what (b), (d) are. The (g) point is good!
Community Facilities and Infrastructure
Pg. 103: B. Childcare. If there’s increased need for childcare to “serve residents and employees of the existing and proposed development”, it doesn’t make sense that there will be no need for new schools in Alexandria? Where will these children go to school?

Pg. 106: F. Sewer. 3rd paragraph—there is a letter attached dealing with the Holmes Run problem. This paragraph states that “the City has an on-going extensive rehabilitation program in this Holmes Run Sewer Shed…” The residents of this area aren’t seeing this!

Pg. 110: 2nd paragraph. “The topography, I-395, existing roadways, developed parcels, and existing parks limits some opportunities for additional east-west streets. .” The Dora Kelley Nature Park/Wildlife Sanctuary should not have roads next to it simply because of what it is.

Pg. 111: Ellipse at Seminary Road/Beauregard Street. VDOT has told the City and citizens repeatedly that VDOT is not allowed to include the ellipse in its Ramp Plan because it’s a “proposed” ellipse. If VDOT can’t include it in their plans, why does the City do it? There is no guarantee for the ellipse funding.

Pg. 111: Parallel Road to Beauregard Street. Any parallel streets to Beauregard should be on JBG’s property, NOT Rayburn Avenue. Those of us who bought homes on Rayburn Avenue most likely were attracted by the quiet neighborhood. Extending Rayburn Avenue to Sanger will give more and more access to traffic trying to avoid Beauregard. Even if there is an additional Sanger Avenue built in the future, the overflow traffic should be directed to a road through JBG’s property, not on Rayburn Avenue.

Pg. 113: New High Occupancy Vehicle(HOV) Ramp. See comments under Pg. 111, Ellipse. Why is the City including a HOV Ramp when it’s not even approved? “The traffic analysis assumes the proposed new HOV ramp…”

Pg. 117: Last sentence. “This is largely due to the construction of the Ellipse.” My point is that there are a lot of assumptions built on the ellipse which isn’t funded yet!

Pg. 118: transportation improvements, including the ellipse. See all above comments, Pg 111-117.


Pg. 138: A thirty-year buildout is probably realistic since funding clearly will depend on the market. Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks commented at one BCSG meeting that “in 2020, 85% of present buildings will still be there.” I think citizens and public officials need to watch this carefully. Earmarking funds is a good, but tricky endeavor, it seems to me.


Pg. 144: 1.b. (4) The public asked for committed affordable housing units; the City needs to pay attention to that request.

Pg. 144: 2.a.(1) The “existing homes” referred to certainly include the Westridge Townhouses which have been in existence since the 1960’s. Since these homes will be profoundly affected by any sort of development, homeowners need to have regular and consistent updates with ample time for comments. It is hoped that both the City and JBG will heed comments.

Pg. 146: (2) (d) There should an absolute minimum of tree wells. Tree wells can’t sustain full sized or mature trees; the wells are decorative and, in my opinion, are designed to fulfill developer’s tastes, not the integrity of the neighborhood or the life of the trees themselves. Any loss of trees, which should be minimal--especially when trees are mature and would be extremely difficult to replace--should be replaced with more than saplings. They should also be native species and chosen for their ability to provide shade. There are trees on the JBG property which Winkler left standing for several reasons; one is the shade provided by the trees, and another is their age. Some are older than 50 years and are very valuable to the environment. These should be protected—not encased in concrete or have “decorative” rocks piled around them.

Pg. 146: E. (6) Option 1 is the plan I support. Developers already have entirely too much voice in Alexandria; they certainly outweigh ordinary citizens.

Pg. 147: 4.a. (5) Option 2 is the plan I support. Tree canopy over Beauregard is essential. The last sentence, “To the extent possible, existing healthy mature trees should be preserved and new trees should be as mature as possible when planted.” should be the mantra of any and all development in the West End.

Pg. 148: (5) c. Option 2 is the plan I support. We shouldn’t establish a new CDD zoning but should preserve existing zoning for land owned by JBG, Duke Realty, Home Properties, and Southern Towers.

Pg. 148: d. (16) Options 1 and 2 Eliminate “cinemas” from the Plan. There is not enough space for all that developers are dreaming of! However, Option 2 is the plan I support. There definitely should NOT be large format destination retail stores in the Beauregard Plan.

Pg. 150: (20) There is another plot of land in back of Hammond Middle School that is considerable larger than the athletic field which is proposed for Sanger and Beauregard. The City should look into that space (google map attached) I believe the land is owned either by the school or the City. Either should be willing to develop the space into an athletic field. The space at Sanger and Beauregard would encroach on the Dora Kelley Nature Park (which was designated a “nature” park in 1976 and set aside only for its natural preservation, in perpetuity. Extending the land at Sanger and Beauregard up against the Dora Kelley Nature Park (and wildlife sanctuary)would endanger the wildlife and also the encroach on the floodplain area (RPA) resulting in serious destruction to the nature park. This is outrageous! Trails in the Dora Kelley Nature Park would be jeopardized by this encroachment as well. The state of Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail Guide, published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, on page 11 states, “Dora Kelley Park is an excellent example of conscientious urban planning and conservation efforts. Surrounded by urban sprawl, this woodland gem should be a prime birding spot any time of the year…..A beautifully maintained self-guided interpretive trail traverses the deciduous woodland habitat, which is primarily composed of spectacular red, white, black and chestnut oaks and American beech in the uplands.” Development of a field which would definitely encroach on this “woodland gem” should be taken off the books completely! I would strongly suggest looking into other areas for an athletic field.

Pg. 151: (25) What is stated in this “incorporated” statement is yet another reason NOT to put a road adjacent to the Dora Kelley Nature Park (and Wildlife Sanctuary). “..walking rather than driving.”

Pg. 151: h. (9) Option 2 is the plan I support.

Lynn Bostain (302) | User | February 16, 2012 - 1:23 PM | Beauregard Small Area Plan