Letter to the Editor: New year just like the old year for Karig Estates issue

Letter to the Editor: New year just like the old year for Karig Estates issue
John Scruggs and Loren Needles stand on Scruggs' property, which borders the planned Karig Estates development (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

To the editor:

In Alexandria, 2019 begins much like 2018 did – with a hearing about the city’s poor handling of the Karig Estates development proposal, in which the city abandoned its duty in upholding environmental protective ordinances and misled council, staff and residents — which effectively curtailed civic engagement. As a result, this issue moves to litigation in the circuit court this first week of January, where we hope that these wrongs will be righted.

Central to the city’s counter arguments are that a) council and the planning commission had all relevant material before them to make informed decisions at the Nov. 9, 2017 and Jan. 20, 2018 hearings and b) noted environmental expertise on staff and the city geohydrological consultant were not precluded from attending either of these critical hearings – in a personal capacity.

However, numerous Freedom of Information Act documents and other sources clearly show this to not be the case. Council, and especially outgoing mayor Allison Silberberg, were repeatedly misled by staff, and information relevant to making a proper, informed decision was manipulated by city officials, making a rational decision on merits impossible.

FOIA documents also show that staff were told by city officials not to attend the hearings days before the Nov. 9, 2017 planning commission hearing, despite the assistant city attorney facilitating the request for staff to attend in the event technical questions arose that were best answered by the city’s expert on the matter.

To make matters worse, all of this still continues, as witnessed by the city’s Opposition to the Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment, which contains numerous inaccuracies.

Who knows what the new year will bring for the Karig forest, stream and wetlands, but a good place to find out is the Alexandria Coalition for Responsible Stewardship at KarigEstate.com.

-C. Dara, Jimm Roberts, Cynthia Evans, Alexandria