Members of the Alexandria City Council have scheduled an emergency closed-door meeting on Saturday to chart a new course for the Alexandria waterfront, after a ruling from the Board of Zoning Appeals that could overturn the controversial waterfront plan. In a late night vote, the Alexandria Board of Zoning Appeals reversed a determination by the city planning director to reject a protest petition filed by opponents of the plan.
At issue is a challenge filed by hundreds of property owners along the waterfront who oppose the city's efforts to increase development and allow hotels. Bert Ely and others who have opposed the plan for months said the decision was a hard-won victory.
"We're absolutely delighted at how the Board of Zoning Appeals voted tonight in support of the citizens who filed a petition, played by the rules and now the ball is going to be in the city’s court," he said.
The protest petition filed earlier this year would have required the City Council to have a super-majority of votes to pass the waterfront plan. The proposal was adopted on a 5-2 vote back in January, one vote shy of a supermajority.
That means the Alexandria waterfront plan is on hold, at least for now.
The city will appeal the decision to the Alexandria Circuit Court, according to city attorney James Banks. "They were, I think, sidetracked on a couple of issues and I think there’s plenty of grounds for an appeal," Banks said.
Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals say the planning director erred in her decision to reject the petition, adding that city officials seemed to go out of their way to prevent citizens from being involved in the process.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the outcome of the Board of Zoning Appeals' vote. Board members voted in favor of the opponents of the waterfront plan.