Letter to the Editor: Green cities protect open spaces and tree canopies

Letter to the Editor: Green cities protect open spaces and tree canopies
(Courtesy photo)

To the editor:

I would like to encourage all Alexandrians who support the concept of being a green city to call or write those who sit on the planning commission and city council to ask that the approval for the development of four huge homes ranging from 6,500 to 9,000 square feet be reconsidered. The more people who make their wishes known, the greater the chance that they will reconsider approval of this environmentally disastrous project.

Our property at 1211 St. Stephens Road abuts the ravine, which makes up a good part of that property. When we purchased our home in 1997, we were informed by our realtor as well as the seller’s realtor that the property to the back of ours was unbuildable and would be wooded in perpetuity. Sadly, that now appears to have been untrue. The woods, wetlands and ravine that we love are in danger of being lost.

There are old growth trees there from the 1860s. There is an intermittent stream and, we suspect, an underground spring and stream on our property that feed into the headwaters of Strawberry Run and on into the Potomac River. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of water quality knows that wetlands are nature’s filters. Destroying any wetland area has repercussions beyond the immediate property. The proposed development cannot help but impact the wetland area. The developer plans to run the sewer line from the huge new homes down through the wetland. This is unacceptable.

The woods are also home to wildlife that those of us who live here are lucky enough to enjoy. The balance of nature is maintained as long as the woods remain. It seems that the entire city benefits directly from maintaining tree canopy, maintaining healthy trees whose roots help to stabilize the marine clay slope and maintaining a greenway for our wild creatures. Despite testimony at the planning commission hearing by a lawyer involved in the sale of the property, there are many old trees down in the ravine.

Several are right at our property line. These, too, add to our city’s tree canopy. We moved here because we believed that Alexandria was dedicated to the preservation of green space. We are happy to pay our property taxes — a portion of which go to sustain parks and wild spaces throughout the city.

Privately, we used to clear invasive species from the ravine behind our home for the elderly woman who lived on the property that is now slated for destruction. Should the city see its way clear to purchase that property outright in order to preserve it, we would be more than happy to volunteer as much time as necessary to help save that treasure for everyone in Alexandria.

I hope council will step in and stop the devastation that this development will cause. This is a unique property and a wonderful opportunity for the city to show its true priorities. I hope you will rethink this development in order to live up to the title of being an Eco-City.

-Cynthia B. Evans, Alexandria