Ice House fine lowered

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Developer Boyd Walker came to City Council Saturday to appeal a $25,000 fine levied by the Board of Architectural Review for the Old and Historic District for Walkers removal of an historic canopy from the old ice house at 200 Commerce Street.

We are seeing more and more of these after-the-fact cases and they are most often caused by people who have recently moved into the Old and Historic District and claim ignorance of the process, even though the staff notifies them about the regulations at least twice a year, said Arthur Kellehur, a member of the BAR who came to explain the Boards decision. Mr. Walker grew up in Alexandria and lived in the Historic District. He is the president of a new organization that promotes historic preservation. He, of all people, should know the process and yet he failed to get a building permit, failed to get a permit from the BAR and then failed to notify his neighbors of the BAR hearing, three separate times. City staff had to make those notifications. We believe that we need to send a very clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

Walker said that the demolition was unintentional. I hired a contractor to remove some plywood and other materials from the front of the building. I did not tell them to remove the canopy, Walker said. It has always been my intention to fully restore this little building to the way it was when it was an ice house and turn it into a breakfast restaurant. If I have to pay a $25,000 fine, I may not have the money to do that, he said.

Vice Mayor Redella S. Del Pepper expressed concern about the timeline, which showed the process continuing from December through April. This is of real concern, Pepper said. Why didnt you notify your neighbors?

Walker said that he attempted to do so but was unable. I notified most of them, he said.

In the end, Council reduced the fine to $6,500, $1,500 for the three times you did not properly notify adjacent property owners, $1,500 for taking down the canopy without permission and $500 for the staff time to make the notifications you were unable to make, Pepper said.

Councilman Rob Krupicka added a condition to the fine. If you have not restored the canopy within six months, we will reinstate the entire $25,000 fine and the clock could start running on the allowable $1,500 per day fine, he said.

Pepper added, I think you should get it done within the timeframe or you wont get a lot of sympathy from any of us.

Councilman Paul Smedberg was the lone dissenting Council member in the 5-1 vote.

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