Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Solutions Identified

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Solutions Identified

The following open letter was addressed to the mayor, vice mayor, City Council and appropriate city staff.

I support appeal of the Nov. 9 decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission to the Alexandria City Council. The decision approving the Karig Estates (3832-3834 Seminary Road) Site Plan as amended and the Subdivision Plan should be temporarily set-aside and referred to staff and the applicant to satisfactorily resolve concerns raised in the Beth El Hebrew Congregation Appeal.

I also add my name to the Alexandria Coalition for Responsible Stewardship petition in support of the Nov. 22 Beth El Hebrew Congregation’s letter appealing the decision.

Remaining issues include the setback of Lot #1 from Seminary Road, the location of Lot #4 on the edge of the ravine and the resulting increase in slope erosion and water flow into the ravine and wetland, and the location of the proposed sewer line through the wetland buffer zone.

Community concerns were casually dismissed by the Planning and Zoning Board. City staff pledges that they will continue to monitor and work with the applicant before granting final approval were not reassuring.

As a neighbor to this property for the last 24 years, I ask the Planning and Zoning Decision be remanded back to staff for re-consideration of the following:

  • Re-evaluate the building setback from Seminary Road to conform with the setback of adjacent residential subdivision lots. This will allow movement of all four houses closer to Seminary Road and away from the steepest and most vulnerable part of the ravine. A preliminary plan to do just that was developed and approved by city staff and the applicant but set aside when the Planning Commission ruled this was not an amendment to the site plan but would require a whole new site plan submission. This decision was made late at night without proper consideration of all the time and effort that the applicant and staff had put into this compromise over the previous two years. This decision should be reversed by City Council allowing resolution of these issues in a more timely fashion as an amendment to the approved site plan.

  • Ensure the house on Lot #4 is set back from the edge of the ravine so as not to increase slope erosion and storm water drainage into the ravine and onto adjacent properties. This will shorten the new road, decreasing the amount of impermeable surface, the amount of mature forest that needs to be clear cut, and the distance to Seminary road that the sanitary sewer needs to traverse; and

  • Relocate the proposed sewer line away from the buffer zone and wetland to connect with the sanitary sewer on Seminary Road. The goal here is to minimize impacts on the buffer zone, spring, wetland and the saturated soils on adjacent properties. This will reduce the need for clear cutting mature forest, the amount of disruption to the natural aquifer, and the subsequent increase in storm water flow and water degradation.

This proposal was made by the Stormwater Section of the City Department of Transportation and Environmental services, but was not given adequate consideration by the Commission at their late night meeting. It should be given the attention it deserves, as it addresses so many of the concerns about this project.

Thank you for your serious consideration of these concerns.

Pat Tokarz