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Julie Collier Edelson (user 314) - Comments by Date

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 | Beauregard Small Area Plan