Your View: Planning Commission trivialized residents concerns at waterfront plan hearing


To the editor:
As a native Alexandrian and former Alexandria City Council member, I want to thank all the people that spoke against key aspects of the citys waterfront plan and the one-sided, one-dimensional process that produced this mediocre document. 
For those of you who could not attend the public hearing on April 5, or did not listen to the remarks of the Planning Commissioners at the very end of the hearing, I urge you to do so. They can be found on the citys website. 
With one possible exception Donna Fossum every single commissioner expressed full support for the plan to commercialize the waterfront using hotels as the best and only revenue engine. They expressed no real concern about the community process, the economic assumptions, the lack of viable alternatives, the fact that the plan barely expands park land or showcases our seaport heritage and minimal concern about parking.
The only plan they believe will turn the waterfront into a vibrant jewel ignores the impact new development at the warehouses owned by the Washington Post will have on the citys storm water sewer system and resulting water pollution. 
They ignored entirely the pollution being generated by the 19th century coal-gas leak at the foot of Oronoco Street. They could care less about the historic value of West Point, and they seem oblivious and unconcerned about the impact the equivalent of 12 to14 new Charthouse-sized restaurants and several big hotels will have on the waterfront and surrounding community. 
All but one of the commissioners expressed admiration for the aspirational nature of the plan, whatever that means. Im not inspired by it, nor were most of the speakers that night. Commissioners expressed disbelief that the planning process had not offered residents much opportunity to explore different development strategies and suggested that when it comes to planning, they know best. Chairman John Komoroske said the plan we see now came from the people. Which people he meant Im not sure. Certainly not the residents who showed up at 7:30 p.m. and stayed until the last speaker had spoken hours later.
The planning commissioners comments make light of community concerns and harms the notion that a planning process should include people genuinely concerned about their community. These are the people most affected by the design goals and inflated benefits. The people that should be ensuring a fair and equitable process clearly have other goals in mind. This plan is about development and money, apparently, and not a whole lot more.