Hearing Tonight

On Park Proposals

Alexandria's Park and Recreation Commission will host a public hearing tonight to discuss the acquisition of the CSX property south of Witter Drive and west of Telegraph Road for recreation fields and the property known as the Freedmen's Cemetery, at South Washington and Church streets, for a memorial park. The public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Ave.

New recreation fields are being proposed for 13.7 acres on Witter Drive, to be acquired from the CSX Railroad.

The CSX property would be acquired with federal funds as part of the settlement of a lawsuit related to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction project. The settlement also will provide funding for the construction of fields, restrooms and adjacent parking, which are scheduled to be completed in 2008 and 2009.

Also as part of the settlement, property will be acquired for the purpose of a passive memorial park, called Alexandria Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial Park, to honor refugees from slavery during and immediately after the Civil War.

A special meeting of the Park and Recreation Commission will immediately follow the public hearing.

New Political Sign

Rules in Arlington

The Arlington County Board has approved a zoning ordinance amendment about political signs placed on public and private property. The ordinance language was developed in consultation with representatives from the Democratic and Republican parties and the League of Women Voters, county officials said.

"This was an effective bipartisan effort. This new ordinance will help to ensure that our public right-of-way is not cluttered with sign spam, while preserving Arlingtonians' rights to express themselves politically," County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a press release.

County officials said the approved changes ease restrictions on private property. Unlighted temporary political signs will be allowed to be placed on private property, in windows and in multifamily buildings. No permits will be required.

The allowed size of political signs increased slightly from a total sign area of four square feet to 41/2 square feet. In addition, "issues of public interest" were added to the definition of political sign.

No changes are proposed for noncommercial or "for sale" signs on private property except that a permit will no longer be required. The allowed size of noncommercial signs remains the same.

Similar to real estate directional signs, political signs on public property are allowed from sundown Friday to sundown Sunday and holidays year-round.

The new ordinance creates a provision for allowing temporary political signs on medians and limits the number of signs to two per candidate or issue per median segment. Signs are not permitted to be placed "Burma-Shave" style, one after another the length of a median.

In addition, the new ordinance places time constraints on the placement of signs in the public right of way, limiting political signs to being placed 31 consecutive days before an election.

The signs must be removed within five days after the election. The size of political signs can be no larger than 41/2 square feet, and the height of the signs is restricted to three feet to improve driver visibility and pedestrian safety.

Voting Rights Restoration

Clinic in Alexandria

Alexandria will host a voting rights restoration clinic from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St.

The event is a joint effort between the city's Office of Human Rights, the Alexandria Human Rights Commission, the District-based Advancement Project, the Virginia Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants and the Alexandria Bar Association. During the clinic, participants will learn about the voting rights restoration process and its eligibility requirements.

In Virginia, the right to vote in state and federal elections is taken away from residents convicted of a felony, whether the conviction occurred in Virginia or another state. These rights can be restored. The governor has the discretionary power to restore civil rights to eligible people who seek to have their rights returned; the process takes six months or longer.

Volunteers from the Alexandria Human Rights Commission and the Alexandria Bar Association will help people convicted of a felony begin the application process.