The Alexandria City Council targeted the West End and Arlandria last night as the areas most urgently in need of new planning studies to control what council members called rampant development.
The studies, which are expected to show that a flurry of new projects such as the recently approved $150 million high-rise development near Landmark Shopping Center are cluttering the skyline and clogging traffic, will be the first step in updating the city's master development and traffic plan.
Dayton Cook, director of Transportation and Environmental Services, said the studies were needed to justify "downzoning," which reduces the building density legally permitted on certain lots.
"We have less and less land in this city to work with," Mayor James P. Moran Jr. said in an interview earlier this week. "Zoning will play an intricate and important part in controlling development."
In addition to unanimously approving the West End, the city's southwest corner also known as the Landmark area, and Arlandria, the area including Mount Vernon Avenue and the Rte. 1 corridor, as the two most in need of planning attention, the council named the downtown business district and the 700 to 1200 blocks of Prince Street as secondary priorities for planning studies.
John O. Woods, president of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce told a reporter in an interview yesterday the city sorely needs to overhaul its main development plan. He said much of the present zoning law is based on a 1953 master transportation plan. That 32-year-old plan, he said, allowed for relatively dense development because it called for major road improvements that never materialized, such as widening Duke Street to six lanes.
City Council member Redella (Del) Pepper, a Democrat who represents West End residents, said newly proposed developments including Skypointe, the largest building ever planned in the city and an 18-acre site called Park at Landmark, have residents pounding on her door and fuming. "We are searching for answers to meet this problem," she said, "but the developers are hearing that we want to downzone and site plans are coming in faster than ever."
Pepper said that while she and council members are cautiously moving to ward off potential lawsuits from developers by ordering environmental impact studies, and altering the city's master plan, unchecked development may continue.