1. Calling the Roll.
Mayor Euille called the meeting to order and the City Clerk called the roll. All members of Council were present.
2. Public Discussion Period.
(a) Gary Carr, 216 Aspen Street, expressed condolences to the family of Emma Cabrara, noting that his daughter was taught by her. Mr. Carr spoke of the restoration of the running tracks and fields at Frances Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools, and he noted the lack of running tracks in the City, and there are no running track facilities after 5:00 p.m. in the City. He asked if they will build an artificial turf that is funded for this fiscal year at a park or at a school - does it fix a nonfunctional field at Hammond or a functional field in need of maintenance at Ben Brenman Park. He spoke to strategic planning goal #2, respects, protects and enhances the health of its citizens, and goal #4, the public schools should be among Northern Virginia's best. He said the field at Brenman will be fenced and empty during school hours, and a new field at Hammond will provide inspiration to the next generation of athletes and leaders. Mr. Carr said his daughter Christine will not be speaking, but she was going to speak to the lack of a fixed concession stand at T.C. Williams.
(b) Jack Sullivan, 4300 Ivanhoe Place, asked that the two parcels east of 395 that are currently part of the Beauregard Corridor planning process be eliminated from the process. Any changes in the area should be considered within the existing Strawberry Hill/ Seminary Hill Small Area Plan, noting that the two parcels are not in the Beauregard corridor but separated by a major highway. He said many were closely involved in the crafting of the current Seminary Hill/Strawberry Hill plan, it has served the neighborhood well and they do not want to see it vitiated in this way and to allow two parcels to be carved out of the existing plan is akin to permitting spot zoning, and the current process will slow down consideration of the proposed development on the sites. Mr. Sullivan said Council can ask the Planning Director to eliminate these parcels from consideration. He said Seminary Hill has not yet had a chance to vote on the proposed change but will have consideration at its December meeting, and they will likely will be back formally requesting action if nothing positive has occurred in the meantime.
(c) Eileen MacLennan, 903 N. Howard Street, spoke of political signs in residential areas, noting the three small median strips near her street and on each of them were posted 25 signs, and it is an eyesore and a safety hazard. She said the numbers of signs need to be limited and the signs should not go up more than 30 days prior to the election.
(d) Gwen Fuller, 4017 Forth Worth Avenue, said she is a Council appointed member of the Alexandria Library Board, and she spoke of her concerns about the projected cuts suggested for the City's libraries. She noted the percentage of population that have library cards and use computers in the libraries and she asked the Council to support the libraries and think and re-think the deep cuts that have been proposed.
(e) Eileen Bradley, 4705 W. Braddock Rd, Friends of Burke Branch Library, urged Council to do as little possible cutting in the library budget. She noted how the libraries operate on a daily basis and how citizens use the libraries. She said the library is not just a discretionary activity or an expendable activity, but it is a critical and essential service that provides help to all members of the community.
(f) Susan Birchler, 311 Lannon Court, said she is speaking on behalf of 12-14 people who live in her neighborhood, and she spoke of the Norfolk Southern night operation, noting the noises and sounds that come from the operation at midnight and throughout the night. She asked the City to find a regulatory agency and have them see what Norfolk Southern is doing, to ask them to stop doing it at night, and to have Norfolk Southern out of their backyard.
(g) Mindy Lyle, Cameron Station Civic Association, spoke of the City's winning the Virginia Municipal League communications award for the handling of the Norfolk Southern fiasco. She said the City should only enter competitions where the award was deserved. The purpose of the VML award was to recognize the commitment to creative, imaginative and cost effective local government, and the entries should reflect the highest standards of professionalism and innovation. Ms. Lyle said that if this was the basis of the award, the City should never have entered the competition. She said the 2,500 pages posted to the City's website was only done after a FOIA request from the Cameron Station Civic Association. Ironically, she said, the award-winning communication plan also failed to notify residents and the public of a recent ethanol spill until a day after it occurred. She said this should be classified as inept management in the City government and ineffective oversight by elected and appointed officials. The entry into the competition and the City's acceptance of the award are a slap in the face not only to Cameron Station, but Summers Grove and the entire West End community. She said residents are awakened in the middle of the night by the rail car operation, when it begins activity after 11:00 p.m. and continues to 4:00 a.m. She said they suggest a sound barrier with both a sound wall and a vegetative barrier should be constructed on the railroad side of the run and along the park. Ms. Lyle said another thought is to call David Lawson's home when the transloading operations start in the middle of the night, so that if he shares their pain, something might be done about it, along with calling Mayor Euille and Mr. Hartmann so they can see what the residents are going through. She said the City needs to actively look for solutions and not just give lip service to the problem.
(h) Nancy Jennings, 2115 Marlboro Drive, King Street/Beauregard Project, spoke of the King Street/Beauregard improvement project. Ms. Jennings said the project is good news, and the project is slated to improve capacity and flow on King Street by adding more turn lanes and restricting some movements, but it does not yet reduce congestion caused by three lanes of traffic being reduced to two. She said the City may now have the opportunity to widen King Street to the west between Beauregard and Dawes Avenue, and the project should be extended about 100 yards west to the City boundary with Fairfax County, widening that section to six lanes, as well as improving the sidewalks. She said she hoped the project would benefit them all by reducing overflow traffic on residential streets and allowing customers easier access to the businesses in that end of Alexandria.
(i) Ingrid Sanden, 5238 Bessley Place, secretary of the Cameron Station Civic Association, said tone-deaf is what she wrote down when the discussion of the communications effort came up, because it equals spin and they are tired of spin. Ms. Sanden spoke of the proposed new stormwater tax structure, noting that at the November Cameron Station Civic Association meeting, City staff presented the new proposal to their residents, and the Cameron Station Homeowners Association is responsible for and maintains all sidewalks, private parks, a community center, streets and other services in their neighborhood, including stormwater management. She said the new tax would fall on each individual home, the various condo associations and the HOA itself, which they already pay for via their quarterly dues to the HOA - essentially the Cameron Station residents would pay the new stormwater tax twice and it would still be the HOA's responsibility to maintain the community stormsewers and not the City's responsibility. Ms. Sanden also spoke of the shuttle service to and from the Van Dorn Metro Station, noting that they are not allowed to use the drop off point at the kiss and ride because the shuttle buses are six inches too long and instead are dropped off on Eisenhower Avenue itself. She said they are begging Council to reopen and solve the issue.
(j) Katy Cannady, 20 E. Oak Street, president, Alexandria League of Women Voters, spoke in support of a basic league principle that Americans should not be impeded in the exercise of the right to vote. She said she spoke to Registrar Tom Parkins about the 2012 election with the Presidential race, the Council seats and the School Board seats all on the ballot, using the resources he had in 2008, voters might wait in line to vote for 4-6 hours, and she asked how could the Council contemplate such a thing. The City will have to spend money - she has heard $200,000 in additional expenses, over what would have been needed for a Presidential election alone. Ms. Cannady said they were told last Spring that having Council elections in November would make things easier for voters and save money, but it doesn't look that way today. She said they need a Council election in 2011, as it is the only solution.
(k) Amy Slack, 2307 E. Randolph Avenue, said she is a member of the Del Ray Citizens Association, the co-chair of the land use committee for that body, a member of the Federation, on the Federation of Civic Associations Board and their representative to the Wayfinding Program, and a member of the Traffic and Parking Board, and said she is an engaged and interested citizen and participates and she finds herself increasingly found irrelevant by many members of Council, who seeks the disengaged and disenfranchised and those who don't participate, at the expense of those who do. She said she found it increasingly disconcerting that those who have gone to the public meetings and hearings and tried to form and participate in their small area plans and policies on many different issues are being found irrelevant because the special interest groups are superseding what they have had to say. She said most recently on Monday evening, she was supposed to participant in a public hearing on the taxi industry, and the outcome of that was a u-turn by Council and the City Manager to form a workgroup, and she said she is a member of the workgroup and she asked each member of Council to contact her and let her know what is the intent of the workgroup and their feelings of the outcome of the workgroup.
(l) Poul Hertel, 1217 Michigan Court, president, Old Town Civic Association, said the Planning Commission rejected the adult use text amendment on November 5, and during the public hearing, representatives of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership, and the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association spoke in favor of keeping Alexandria a business friendly City, and the Commissioners decided that the right to buy objects and not harming any business overrode all other considerations. In the end, he said, the Commissioners proudly announced that Alexandria is still the only local jurisdiction that does not regulate adult stores. He said he is disappointed that the members of the business community pushed the City into something that could jeopardize all retailers on King Street. Mr. Hertel said that one of the Commissioners commented on how important the business community turnout had been for the result, so in the end it was about business is business, and being so afraid to appear business unfriendly. He said it now has to be porn friendly on King Street. He said Council has the authority to bring the text amendment on its own and he urged Council to do so, as it is not about being business friendly.
(m) Anne Paul, 706 Prince Street, with the Alexandria Historical Society Board of Directors, spoke of their concern with the Alexandria libraries and special collections. She noted that Brooksie Koopman, chair of the Library Board, Dick Hobson, a member of the Library Board, and Lindon Brenner, the deputy director of Libraries, are all present today. She said special collections opened in 1975, and the Historical Society collected over 12,000 documents for that particular library. She said the City has cut the hours of special collections to a bare minimum and is giving them a skeletal staff. She asked Council to reconsider what it is doing to their libraries and to special collections, as it is giving a setback to education.
(n) Carla Fleming, 4918 A Barbour Drive, Alexandria, chair, Alexandria Regional Council of the United Way of the National Capital Area, said the United Way campaign has kicked off and the chair for the campaign this year is Delegate David Englin. She invited Council to join them on December 11 at the Alexandria mid-campaign launch at the Dunbar Alexandria Olympic Boys and Girls Club on Payne Street. She said the goal is to raise $1 million for the regional council of the United Way capital areas community impact club - #9001. She asked for Council's help in making a personal commitment to contribute $500 to the community impact fund, and they ask the residents of the community to match them and meet their challenge.
REPORTS OF BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES
ACTION CONSENT CALENDAR (3-4)
3. SPECIAL USE PERMIT #2009-0053
616 C SOUTH PICKETT STREET (Parcel Address: 600 South Pickett Street)
AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP
Public Hearing and Consideration of a request to operate a general repair automotive shop; zoned I/Industrial. Applicant: Qasem Rawad
PLANNING COMMISSION ACTION: Recommend Approval 6-0
4. SPECIAL USE PERMIT #2009-0047
CARLYLE DEVELOPMENT - 333 JOHN CARLYLE STREET
Public Hearing and Consideration of a request for an amendment to the special use permit for the Carlyle development to extend the time frame that office space is permitted in the southeastern corner of 333 John Carlyle Street; zoned CDD-I/Coordinated Development District. Applicant: 1900 Duke Street, LP by Kenneth Wire, attorney
PLANNING COMMISSION ACTION: Recommend Approval w/amendments 6-0
END OF ACTION CONSENT CALENDAR
City Council approved the action consent calendar, with the removal of item #4, which was considered under separate motion. The approval was as follows:
3. City Council approved the Planning Commission recommendation.
4. City Council approved the Planning Commission recommendation, as amended, with a change to condition #102C to delete the words "running until December 31, 2019, upon which any and all office uses shall be discontinued" and adding the words, "The permitted office lease term shall commence upon tenant occupancy of the space, but in no case shall the term extend beyond December 31, 2021." (separate motion)
REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CITY MANAGER
5. Public Hearing on the Report from the Naming Committee on Naming the Gymnasium and Pool at Charles Houston Recreation Center. (#6, 11/10/09)
City Council named the rooms at the Charles Houston Recreation Center as follows: The gymnasium be named after Coach Louis Johnson and Mr. Morris Seibert and the swimming pool be named The Memorial Pool in honor of the nine African American youths who drowned in the Potomac River, recognizing that before integration, African American youths were not permitted to swim in the Alexandria Municipal Pool.
6. Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Proposed Route I-395 Direct Access Ramp Alternatives for the BRAC-133 Project at Mark Center:
a) Presentation of Alternatives by Representatives of the Virginia Department of Transportation; and
b) Preliminary Public Hearing on Proposed Alternatives.
City Council held the public hearing to receive testimony on the seven direct access ramp alternatives being considered by VDOT for their IJR analysis; requested the Transortation Commission to hold a second public hearing on this matter on December 2, 2009; and scheduled the item for final Council public hearing and consideration on Saturday, December 12, 2009.
7. Public Hearing on the City's Proposed Legislative Package for the 2010 Virginia General Assembly.
City Council held the public hearing, received the report and scheduled it for final adoption on November 24, 2009.
8. Public Hearing on the Following Charter Amendments: 1. An amendment to increase the membership of the City’s Board of Review of Real Estate Assessments (sometimes referred to as the Board of Equalization) from five to nine; 2. An amendment to authorize the Board of Review of Real Estate Assessments to create panels of three members to hear assessment appeals. All three members would have to be present to constitute a quorum for any appeal. If the panel decision is unanimous with regard to an appeal, the panel decision would be final unless the full Board voted to hear the appeal. The full Board would also hear any appeals in which a panel decision was not unanimous; and 3. An amendment to authorize the Board of Zoning Appeals to grant a variance to a property owner to “alleviate a clearly demonstrable hardship.” Charter language currently requires a property owner to demonstrate that the hardship is “approaching confiscation.” This change would bring Charter language into conformity with the language in State law, which was amended in the 2009 General Assembly Session.