To the editor:
The controversy over the proposed Heritage development, accompanied as it has been with the blithe lack of concern on the part of the current City Council to the wishes of those who live nearby, has brought home to me the very real possibility that our beloved Old & Historic District designation and the accompanying height district limits are in jeopardy.
Thanks to council, the promises of the South Patrick Street Affordability Study have been cast aside and – while wringing their hands rhetorically at least – council has sold out to a developer for construction of buildings which are too large, too dense, inappropriately placed next to residential housing and ugly to boot.
I cannot stress enough how important the designation of the Old & Historic District is to the economic success of our city, as it was first enacted in 1946. This is what has brought us a tourist explosion during the past several decades. This is what brings both people and tasteful renovation to our city. This is what has made our town a unique place to live and to visit.
However, pressures are building and will continue to build. Council has demonstrated a striking disregard for both the residents in and near the Heritage project and has ignored the possibility of restoring the appropriate height limits that control development in the Old & Historic District by permitting the rebuilding of a non-conforming use at Heritage. Council has, in short, failed to protect the height limit in the district by permitting this use to continue, if not expand.
This unfortunate occurrence has prompted me to produce a short list of questions for potential candidates for the new council. In fact, I have three questions:
• First, do you support upholding the current Old & Historic District and Parker Gray District boundaries?
• Second, will you consider expanding them if that were deemed appropriate for the protection of those districts?
• Last, do you support the continued height limits in those districts? These questions should be put to each candidate for council. They require a “yes” or “no” answer. It’s pretty easy.
James Lewis has answered all those questions with an unequivocal “Yes.” Lewis has demonstrated that he has spent a lot of time already learning about the city, and he has an immediate grasp of what is most important to all of us and how we want our future to look. He has a city-wide grasp of the most important issues, and he has already demonstrated to me anyway that he is taking a new and fresh look at all challenges we face today.
Jim has my vote.
-Yvonne Weight Callahan, Alexandria