In Alexandria, 2019 begins much like 2018 did — with a hearing over the city's poor handling of the Karig Estates development proposal, in which the city abandoned its duty in upholding environmental protective ordinances, deceived council, staff, and residents, and effectively robbed all of fair and transparent civic engagement and due process. As a result, all of this moves to litigation in the circuit court this first week of January, where it is hoped that these wrongs will be righted.
Central to the city's counter arguments are that (a) council and planning commission had all relevant material before it to make informed decisions at the Nov. 9, 2017 and Jan. 20, 2018 hearings and (b) noted environmental expertise on staff and city geohydrological consultant were not precluded from attending either of these critical hearings — in a personal capacity. However, numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and other sources clearly show this to not at all be the case. Council, and especially outgoing mayor Allison Silberberg, were repeatedly deceived by staff, and information extremely relevant to making a proper, informed decision was manipulated again and again by city officials, making any kind of rational decision on merits impossible.
FOIA documents also clearly show that staff was decidedly told by city officials not to attend the hearings, and just days before the Nov. 9, 2017 Planning Commission hearing, despite the assistant city attorney facilitating the request for staff to attend in the event technical questions arose that were best answered by the city's expert on the matter.
To make matters worse, all of this continues to the present time, as witnessed by the city's Opposition to the Petitioner's Motion for Summary Judgment, which is rife with inaccuracies and untruths.
Who knows what the new year will bring for the Karig forest, stream, and wetlands, but a good place to find out is the Alexandria Coalition for Responsible Stewardship webpage at KarigEstate.com.
C. Dara, Alexandria