Alexandria waterfront residents present lawsuit

Alexandria waterfront residents present lawsuit

Some Alexandria waterfront residents are taking legal action against the city's new re-zoning of that area.

The citizens announced their lawsuit Tuesday evening outside Alexandria Circuit Court.

Three residents are suing the city, claiming Alexandria leaders did not follow the right process when voting two weeks ago to approve a new waterfront plan. The residents fear that the plan could bring unwelcome hustle and bustle to their historic neighborhood.

Alexandria homeowner Beth Gibney said she does not want to look out her back door and see hotels, restaurants and condos being built.

“We felt it was very much stacked against the residents that had concerns,” Gibney said.

Gibney is now joining neighbors in a lawsuit, saying city leaders did not listen when they filed papers protesting a new waterfront plan.

Gibney is part of a group of vocal residents that are behind the suit.

"We're arguing that the city has not taken into account the impact of this project on the community,” said Andrew MacDonald, who is the co-chair of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan.

The city's recent rezoning of this part of town will make way for bigger and taller developments. But, residents argue their protests have been ignored.

“It’s hard for me to believe that anyone can truly make that case because this is a matter that has been the subject of intense public comment and review for almost 3 years now,” said James Banks, who is an Alexandria City Attorney.

The City Council in January approved the new waterfront plan. Hoping to delay the vote, 200 homeowners presented a petition.

“A very simple thing to do that day was to say 'look, there's at least half of the community that's very unhappy with this Waterfront plan, let's work toward a compromise,' and they chose not to do that,” MacDonald said.

Their signatures, however, were not considered.

"Listening does not always equal doing what someone is demanding,” Banks said.

The city has 21 days to respond to the suit and neighbors wonder how long they'll wait for answers.

“The same questions we had on the way in are the same questions we had on the way out,” Gibney said.

The city's attorney was not able to address the specifics of this suit this afternoon because he says he has not yet been served with papers. However, Banks says that petition was not considered because under law, it was not valid on the type of vote the City Council was taking that day.