Your View: Don’t disregard residents on Alfred Street Baptist Church

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By Pamela Zitron, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
This letter is not about your approval of the Alfred Street Baptist Church design, structure or mass. It’s about the reprehensible way you, members of the Board of Architectural Review for the Old and Historic District, treated the residents at the meeting held on November 16, 2016.

Yes, under your collective breaths and out of the sides of your mouths you made mention of the concerns of residents, but for the most part your acknowledgement of us was nonexistent. It was obvious your minds were made up in advance.

We were told when we spoke that our comments were to be limited to the mass, size, and structure of their proposed project — and nothing else. Yet you allowed three or four members of the church to speak about their deeds in the community and who urged you to accept the proposal, with no interruptions by you about their comments being off topic.

If we knew that speaking about our contributions to Alexandria were allowed, we would have asked the neighbors to tell you about all the good deeds we do in this community as well.

We volunteer, we promote the city to our friends and family and tell potential homeowners, “Yes, buy.” We spend our money here, and, unlike the church, we pay hefty taxes every year that allow the city to carry out its functions.

To begin your comments by stating how wonderful it was to see Mary Catherine Gibbs, the attorney who represented the church, bordered on a conflict of interest. To say how you “loved” the steeple/bell tower because it will stand as a “gateway” into Alexandria was said with a total disregard for those people who live in this area, who are of differing religions that do not regard the structure to be a gateway into Alexandria.

It’s obvious none of you live in the area where this three-year construction project will take place.

You hover over the smallest of details when it comes to business or home construction and design in the city: archways, paint, types of wood and materials used, etc. and yet, when it comes to the building of a structure that will rival the National Cathedral in seating and size, you were for the most part complicit in ignoring significant issues that will impact residents and visitors for years.

It may be time for you all to stop and take a good look at how using compassion and regard for the sensitivity of the residents you supposedly represent on issues that are of grave concern to them would go a long way.

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