Wednesday, September 30, 1992 - - 7:30 pm
* * * * *
Present: Mayor Patricia S. Ticer, Vice Mayor William C. Cleveland, Members of Council Kerry J. Donley, T. Michael Jackson, Redella S. Pepper, and Lonnie C. Rich.
Absent: Councilman David G. Speck.
Also Present: Mrs. Lawson, City Manager; Mr. Sunderland, City Attorney; Ms. Evans, Assistant City Manager; Ms. Steele, Deputy City Manager; Mr. O'Kane, Director of Transportation and Environmental Services; Mr. Lynn, Director of Planning and Community Development; Mr. Gitajn, Director of Financial and Information Services; Mr. Neckel, Director of Finance; Mr. McMahon, Deputy Director of General Services; Mr. Brannan, Assistant City Manager; Senator Gartlan; Senator Calhoun; Delegate Cohen; Mr. Jones, Lobbyist; and Sergeant Mason, Police Department.
Recorded by: Beverly I. Jett, CMC, City Clerk and Clerk of Council.
The Meeting was called to order by Mayor Ticer, and the City Clerk called the Roll; all Members of City Council were present except Councilman Speck who was out of town.
(It was noted that a Notice of this Special Meeting had been previously served upon each Member of Council, pursuant to a provision of the City Charter, a copy of the Notice certified by each Member of Council being on file in the office of the City Clerk and Clerk of Council.)
2. Consideration of a Referral to the Planning Commission of an Amendment to the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens Small Area Plan Chapter of the 1992 Master Plan of the City of Alexandria to Increase the Amount of Development Permitted under the CDD Guidelines for the Small Area Plan from 2.75 to 3.75 Million Square Feet of Office Space, from 3,500 to 4,500 Residential Units, and from 300,000 to 425,000 Square Feet of Retail Space, which, together with the 625 Hotel Rooms Provided under the Current Guidelines, Results in a Total Development Envelope Ranging between 11.5 and 12 Million Square Feet.
(The following persons gave a status report on the pending issues before the General Assembly with respect to the proposed Jack Kent Cooke stadium:
Mayor Ticer introduced the subject by saying that the City Council has called for this Special Meeting tonight as an extraordinary measure. The Mayor stated that Council is unanimous in its belief that action is required. She stated that City Council is being called to make a judgment call based on its best knowledge of what the situation is at this given time. She indicated Council does not have the choice that it had last May. She
further stated that Council is not apologizing for the decision it made last May as it made a very good decision, but what Council is doing is dealing with the reality of today and the reality that Council has heard both from the legislators and from our consultant. She stated that it goes without saying that the City is predominately opposed to the stadium as being extraordinarily detrimental to our City.
Senator Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr., gave Council his judgment on this issue and stated that it is beyond question in his judgment that the action Council contemplates in the resolution before it is in the best interest of the City.
Reggie Jones, the City's consultant and lobbyist in Richmond, gave Council a report on what is happening on this issue in Richmond and feels that to date that things are going well for the City. He stated that the next hearing slated is for RF&P's lobbyists and the lobbyists for Jack Kent Cooke to have their day with the appropriation subcommittee and there is no opportunity for the City to respond to that hearing to take place on Friday, October 2. He elaborated on the types of changes he feels will be made to the proposed legislation. He stated that the Governor is committed to continue with a Special Session of the General Assembly. He indicated that from looking at what the City did on its zoning in May and June of this year and over a long-term process, he is confident that if every legislator had the time to come to Alexandria to see your files to see what has been done, they would be confident that you did the right thing. He felt that they would be satisfied with the process, Council's judgment and its decision; however, that is not going to happen. They do not have the time to come to Alexandria to spend the time to go through the whole process on this issue. The way they see it is a matter in which they have a responsibility to protect the investment of the Virginia Retirement System. He indicated that there are two issues that we are dealing with. We are dealing with the stadium issue and we are dealing with a zoning issue. The stadium issue has brought the spotlight on the zoning issue. He stated unequivocally that it is in the City's best interest to make the change as proposed tonight. The time is right for Council to do something very positive which he realizes may take a lot of courage for the Members of Council to have to face this issue and to do this, but it is his opinion the timing is right to do it. He indicated that Council would be doing something that would be perceived by the Virginia legislature as being not only in the best interest of Alexandria, but in the best interest of the state. He stated that he has had legislators tell him that they believe this type of action would be perceived by the leadership of the legislature and the members of the legislature as a good faith effort to bring this matter to an end. He cannot stand before Council tonight and say that he believes that this type of action would mean that we would not have a Special Session and that we would not have to go through the fight through the floor of the legislature. He indicated that he feels that there is a very firm commitment from the Governor to proceed with the Special Session regardless and he does not believe that the RF&P is in control at this point. He stated that he believes that the Governor will make the decision. He indicated that Council will have to endure the fight and it is not over by making this decision, but in his mind he believes that this is what will be most impressive to the members of the legislature to remove any doubt about the
City of Alexandria willing to be very reasonable in trying to maintain a quality of life and quality of development in the City and would be perceived as a way to stop the stadium and encouraged Council to give it its consideration this evening.
Senator Robert L. Calhoun addressed the Council and indicated that he agreed with the statement of Senator Gartlan. He gave his views as to what he feels is taking place in the legislature. He stated that Council must take some action. He stated he says it with a certain reluctance as he used to sit on Council. He indicated he did not like the people down state telling him what to do when he was a Member of City Council. He stated that he does not think local decision making is something that the Virginia General Assembly collectively has any real expertise in. This Council must do something. He requested the citizens of this City to bear with Council and to support Council's efforts and to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to do what the citizens have asked them to do when they elected them and that is to govern this City in the best interest of all of the citizens of this City. He requested the citizens to give the Council their help and their favorable comments.
Delegate Bernard S. Cohen echoed the comments of the previous speakers. He indicated that after talking with many legislators around the state he was frustrated with the conclusion that many of the legislators had reached that the zoning that the City had done was inappropriate and that you had done an inappropriate zoning. He stated that perception is more important than reality. He stated that the only thing that is going to be possible to win this battle in Richmond is for our delegation to go there and say that this Council acted responsibly in reconsidering this zoning and came up with an olive branch and did what had to be done and responded to the people who have told him their concerns as they perceive them. He stated if Council will pass the sense of this resolution in his opinion Council will not only be doing the right thing, you will absolutely be doing the necessary thing.
The Mayor stated that Delegate Marian VanLandingham is off on a very well-deserved vacation and will be back in just a day or so. She has worked very hard on behalf of the City on this issue and would definitely be here if she were in town.
WHEREUPON, upon motion by Councilman Donley, seconded by Council Member Rich, City Council moved adoption of the resolution that was presented before Council by the City Attorney which would refer to the Planning Commission a text amendment as outlined in the resolution that would increase the development capacity to 3.75 [million] square feet of office space, 4500 dwelling units, and 425,000 square feet of retail space, the 625 hotel rooms would remain constant, bringing the total development capacity to approximately 11.5 to 12 million square feet; [and requested the Mayor to send a copy of this resolution to all members of the Virginia General Assembly and a letter which informs them of this council action.]
(Mayor Ticer read Councilman Speck's statement for the record as follows:
"Dear Madam Mayor:
I regret that I must be away from the City for the Council Meeting on September 30. The action that Council will be taking is one that I support, and one that I believe is necessary to preserve Alexandria's control of land use decisions within its boundaries.
It is deeply unfortunate that the proposed stadium use, and the reprehensible manner in which this has been foisted upon the City, has forced the Council to respond as it is tonight. The decision we made just four months ago on the development plans for the 2020 project was less than the developer requested and more than some in the community desired. One conclusion to be made when neither side in a land decision is satisfied is that we made the right one. Right or wrong, we approved the largest land use project in the history of the City, and then added language to describe the circumstances under which a future Council might look favorably on additional development. If the stadium proposal had not come up, my guess is that we would have had further negotiations with RF&P to increase their development rights, but, it would have been negotiations without a gun to our heads. In conversations with a number of members of the General Assembly, it is clear to me that if the stadium proposal is defeated, there is a high probability that the legislature, under the pretense of saving the Virginia Retirement System, will seize the land and zone it to a level that will be damaging to our community. We cannot allow that to happen, and the action of Council tonight is essential in avoiding that circumstance. Undoubtedly, some in the community will look askance at Council's action, but this is a City comprised of caring, thoughtful people, and when the facts and circumstances are known, I believe we will have the support of the community.
Again, I regret that I cannot be with you, but I join in sending a message to Governor Wilder that we will not succumb to his threats and intimidation; and to the General Assembly that we will do what is needed, by their standards and ours, to make the Potomac Yard developable and preserve the unique character of this city.
Very truly yours,
/s/David G. Speck
cc: Members of Council"
(Further Discussion. Council Member Rich requested the City Attorney to clarify a couple of things for the record. In sending this back to the Planning Commission even though it is fairly specific with regard to what it is that we are looking toward, this does not preclude, Mr. City Attorney, that the Planning Commission will be able to look at the plan in its entirety and make whatever recommendations it wants to make. In other words, it can consider various parts of the plan if it wants to.
The City Attorney stated that even if there was nothing coming from Council, the Planning Commission is free on its own to consider, revise and change the Master Plan provisions pertaining to the Yard. This is a vehicle that gets the subject in front of the Planning Commission and, yes, they would have the ability to alter or make recommendations regarding revisions that they may see fit beyond those or in addition to those that are outlined in the resolution.
Council Member Rich stated that the other item he wanted to raise is the issue of whether the state has the authority to, aside from the stadium and a stadium authority, whether they have the power to take away the zoning and taxing authority from a piece of real estate that happens to be in our jurisdiction.
The City Attorney stated that some people have talked to him about that today. He made a distinction between the power of the state with respect to powers they have delegated to local government versus the power of the state to implement their own powers. Our zoning authority and our taxing authority and lots of our authorities, unfortunately or fortunately, come from the state. We have them by virtue of a delegation from the General Assembly to us and we share them with lots of other local governments. They are rescindable. They are voidable in effect and the General Assembly with respect to a particular piece of land or across the board has the ability to revoke the delegations of authority that it has given to us. It has that authority. It certainly is not good public policy, but it has that authority to effect a rescission or a revocation of delegated powers for any reason that it wants to. That's to be distinguished, that is a rescission of a delegated power, is to be distinguished from the exercise by the state of its own powers. For instance in the context of the stadium, the exercise of eminent domain power or the expenditure of public funds for purposes of the stadium and purposes of a private corporation on the land. When the state is exercising its own powers, then there is the question of whether it is a public purpose, a public good and the constitution imposes some restrictions on the state when it exercises its own powers. There are some questions whether the power of eminent domain and the power of putting public dollars into this project whether the state has the power legitimately to do that. There are questions there, but whether the state has the ability to rescind its zoning power that it has delegated to us, it is the state's power that has been delegated to us in his opinion, the state can rescind that delegation, can do it for a particular piece of property or it can do it across the board in Alexandria or other jurisdictions and there is very little, in fact, there is nothing that the local jurisdiction can do.
The Mayor and Members of City Council expressed their views with respect to this and feel that the action being taken is in the best interest of the City.)
WHEREUPON, Council returned to the motion made by Councilman Donley, seconded by Council Member Rich and carried on a ROLL-CALL vote of 6-to-0, City Council moved adoption of the resolution that was presented before Council by the City Attorney which would refer to the Planning Commission a text amendment as outlined in the resolution that would increase the development capacity to 3.75 [million] square feet of office space, 4500 dwelling units, and 425,000 square feet of retail space, the 625 hotel rooms would remain constant, bringing the total development capacity to approximately 11.5 to 12 million square feet; [and requested the Mayor to send a copy of this resolution to all members of the Virginia General Assembly and a letter which informs them of this council action.] The voting was as follows:
Donley "aye" Cleveland "aye"
Rich "aye" Jackson "aye"
Ticer "aye" Pepper "aye"
The resolution reads as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 1617WHEREAS, on May 16, 1992, city council approved a revision to the city's comprehensive master plan that provided detailed land use and zoning goals, objectives and recommendations for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area, located in the northeast sector of the city;
WHEREAS, on June 13, 1992, city council enacted Ordinance No. 3576 which adopted the 1992 Master Plan for the City of Alexandria that included a chapter containing the land use and zoning goals, objectives and recommendations for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area that council had adopted on May 16, 1992;
WHEREAS, the land use and zoning recommendations for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area enacted on June 13, 1992, as part of Ordinance No. 3576 included Coordinated Development District, or CDD, guidelines for the coordinated, mixed-use development of the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area that called for up to 2.75 million square feet of office space, 625 hotel rooms, 300,000 square feet of retail space, and 3,500 residential units of varying types and sizes;
WHEREAS, on June 12, 1992, a day before council's enactment of Ordinance No. 3576 and unknown to the city, the Governor of the Commonwealth, the owner of the Washington Redskins professional football franchise, and the RF&P Railroad Company, the owner of the Potomac Yard, executed an agreement that called for the construction of a new Redskins stadium at the Potomac Yard in Alexandria, a use of the Yard that would be wholly inconsistent with the land use and zoning goals, objectives and recommendations for the Yard adopted by council on May 16, 1992;
WHEREAS, on July 7, 1992, in a conversation with the mayor and city manager, the Governor first discussed with the city the proposal to locate a new stadium for the Washington Redskins at the Potomac Yard;
WHEREAS, on July 9, 1992, the Governor and the owner of the Washington Redskins announced at a joint press conference that a new Redskins stadium would be constructed at the Potomac Yard;
WHEREAS, at a public meeting on July 9, 1992, city council found that the placement of a new Redskins stadium at the Potomac Yard would be fundamentally inconsistent with the character of the city and with the city's recently adopted land use goals and objectives for the Yard, and would impose severe and irreparable harm on the neighborhoods adjacent to the Yard and on the city in general, and for these reasons voted to oppose the stadium proposal and authorized the mayor to express the council's opposition in a letter to the Governor which was sent on July 10, 1992;
WHEREAS, since July 9, 1992, in a variety of ways and in a variety of forums, including before the Virginia General Assembly, the city, Arlington County and numerous other local jurisdictions in Virginia, together with countless citizens from Alexandria and other localities across the state, have expressed their vigorous opposition to the location of a new Redskins stadium at the Potomac Yard;
WHEREAS, despite this opposition to the stadium proposal, the Governor has continued to advocate for the stadium's construction at the Potomac Yard and, in draft legislation, has proposed not only that the Commonwealth commit up to $150,000,000 in state funds toward the stadium's construction, but also that the General Assembly revoke the city's planning and zoning authority over the entire Potomac Yard, all of Potomac Greens and a 28-acre parcel of land to the west of the Yard that is to be acquired in connection with the stadium;
WHEREAS, the Governor's draft legislation proposes to delegate all planning and zoning authority over the Potomac Yard, Potomac Greens and the 28-acre parcel noted above, including over land that is not even contemplated for the proposed stadium and its related parking, to a State board appointed by the Governor;
WHEREAS, while many members of the General Assembly are opposed to locating the stadium at the Potomac Yard, other members have indicated concern that the level of development permitted under the CDD guidelines for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area may not be sufficient to enable the Virginia Retirement System ("VRS"), which owns over 99% of the stock of the RF&P, to earn a reasonable return on the investment that is required to install the infrastructure for, and otherwise to develop, the Yard/Greens area, and may therefore be willing to support the stadium or, irrespective of the stadium, the revocation of the city's zoning authority in order to ensure that development of the Potomac Yard will provide a greater return to the VRS than the return it would obtain from development pursuant to the current CDD guidelines;
WHEREAS, city council firmly believes that the CDD guidelines for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area authorize development that will provide an adequate and reasonable return to the VRS;
WHEREAS, at the same time, city council wishes to assure members of the General Assembly that it is cognizant of concerns regarding the viability of development under the current CDD guidelines and that, in order to advance the goal of the 1992 Master Plan to provide high quality mixed-use development in the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area, it is willing to take additional steps to facilitate the development of a lively commercial and residential mixed-use community on the Potomac Yard and the adjacent Potomac Greens property, rather than have the property relegated to a professional football stadium and a parking lot consisting of well over 100 acres to the severe detriment of the city, its residents and the VRS;
WHEREAS, to allay such concerns and to facilitate such development, city council is willing to initiate the process whereby the CDD guidelines for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area can be revised, subject to the conditions stated below, to increase the amount of permitted office development from 2.75 to 3.75 million square feet, to increase the number of permitted residential units from 3,500 to 4,500, and to increase the amount of permitted retail space from 300,000 to 425,000, retaining the number of hotel rooms at 625 as provided in the current guidelines;
WHEREAS, it reasonably appears to the city council that an increase of this nature in the amount of development permitted under the CDD guidelines for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area will result in the good faith resolution of all disputes and doubts regarding development of the area, such that the resources of the state and city governments, the VRS and the RF&P may be channeled to advance the legitimate interests of all such parties, rather than dissipated through dispute and litigation;
WHEREAS, the city is currently in litigation with the RF&P over the city's 1987 decision to reject a site plan application for the development of Potomac Greens, and over the city's 1992 decision to rezone the Potomac Yard and Potomac Greens, and the city council's willingness, noted above, to initiate the process for effecting an increase in the amount of development under the CDD guidelines for the Yard/Greens area is premised upon the dismissal, with prejudice, of all such litigation by the RF&P; and
WHEREAS, the city council's willingness, noted above, to initiate the process for effecting an increase in the amount of development under the CDD guidelines for the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens area is also premised upon the withdrawal by the Governor, or the rejection by the General Assembly, of any proposal to locate a professional football stadium at the Potomac Yard and upon the city continuing to possess the sole planning and zoning authority over all land within the City of Alexandria;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
BY THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL
1. That there be referred to the city's planning commission an amendment to the Potomac Yard/Potomac Greens small area plan chapter of the 1992 Master Plan of the City of Alexandria that provides for an increase in the amount of development permitted under the CDD guidelines for the small area plan from 2.75 to 3.75 million square feet of office space, from 3,500 to 4,500 residential units, and from 300,000 to 425,000 square feet of retail space, which increases, together with the 625 hotel rooms provided under the current guidelines, will result in total development of up to approximately 11.5 to 12 million square feet.
2. That the mayor send a copy of this resolution to all members of the Virginia General Assembly and a letter which informs them of this council action.
(Further Discussion. Senator Calhoun asked the City Council what the process is from here.
Mayor Ticer stated that the Council is sending a letter to all of the members of the legislature telling them of this action and requesting that this put the issue of the stadium and the zoning to rest. This is also being referred to the Planning Commission for processing of a text amendment.
The City Attorney stated that there are a number of steps. Number one, this is a proposed revision to the Master Plan and to the portion of the Master Plan dealing with a small area plan area. That matter goes to the Planning Commission. It probably will go at the first meeting in November. That will be a public hearing, discussion, and decision by the Planning Commission. A recommendation on that Master Plan proposal comes to the City Council. The City Council conducts a public hearing, adopts or rejects. It does what it feels it needs to do and has to implement that decision by an ordinance. That ordinance effects the amendment to the Master Plan. What comes out of the Planning Commission is a recommendation one way or another. It is a recommendation to do nothing. It is a recommendation to revise the plan but in a way different than what is the subject of the ordinance. It is a recommendation to revise in accordance to the recommendation. A recommendation from the Planning Commission as changing the Master Plan will presumably come back to this body sometime in November.)
THERE BEING NO FURTHER DISCUSSION, upon motion by Councilman Donley, seconded by Vice Mayor Cleveland and carried on a vote of 6-to-0, at 9:05 p.m., the Special Meeting of Wednesday, September 30, 1992, was adjourned. The voting was as follows:
Donley "aye" Jackson "aye"
Cleveland "aye" Pepper "aye"
Ticer "aye" Rich "aye"
Beverly I. Jett, CMC City Clerk
This docket is subject to change.
* * * * *
Full-text copies of ordinances, resolutions, and agenda items are available in the Office of the City Clerk and Clerk of the Council.
* * * * *
Individuals with disabilities who require assistance or special arrangements to participate in the City Council meeting may call the City Clerk and Clerk of Council's Office at 838-4500 (TTY/TDD 838-5056). We request that you provide a 48-hour notice so that the proper arrangements may be made.
* * * * *