To the editor:
The Alexandria Times’ coverage of the great historic chain-link fence preservation tussle (“Has preservation impeded progress?” October 20, 2011) brought back memories of my own trying experience seeking BAR approval for a renovation project on my home that a year later won a beautification award from the city. Not that anyone would know it by the ugliness that came first.
At the time, the official objection was that the project would “encapsulate” historic brick that would then be lost to public view — never mind that 96 percent of the same brick remained right there on the house for anyone’s viewing pleasure. But the real story came out in the hearings when opponents testified that my house should be “big enough” for anybody and if I wanted more space I should “move to McLean.”
The problem with the BAR process and those who use and abuse it is not a lack of respect for Old Town’s unique charms and commitment to historic preservation. This we all value and enjoy.
The problem is a long history of arbitrary application of the guidelines, extensive, costly delays for homeowners, and hearings that provide a forum for neighborhood grudge matches and emotional diversions that corrupt the process and undermine our sense of community.
– Amy Bayer, Alexandria