Alexandria City Council Moves to Resolve Old Dominion Parking Lot Dispute
The Alexandria City Council held a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, to provide a discussion and public hearing to examine the City’s options, including eminent domain, for 1) implementing the approved Waterfront Small Area Plan and 2) resolving a longstanding dispute with the Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC) concerning the Club’s parking lot and adjacent areas. The disputed property is located in a key area of the Waterfront Plan.
At the special public hearing, the Alexandria City Council voted 6–1 to direct City Manager Rashad M. Young to continue discussions for 90 days with the Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC), in an attempt to resolve issues relating to the City’s Waterfront Small Area Plan and the ODBC parking lot. The Council also directed the City Manager and the City Attorney to take the steps required to initiate the eminent domain process for the necessary property in the event a consensual resolution is not reached. At that time, the Council can, or will, consider action to exercise its right for eminent domain.
Council also discussed the City using an independent mediator during discussions with ODBC, if both sides concur.
The Waterfront Plan, a 20-30 year vision for the City’s Potomac shore, was approved by City Council in 2012. The Plan provides a framework for revitalizing Alexandria's waterfront through several means, including: incorporating Alexandria's history as a foundation for planning and design, expanding and enhancing public open spaces, improving public access and connectivity to the waterfront, promoting the waterfront as an arts and cultural destination, and ensuring compatible development.
After more than 15 years of negotiations and discussion, in June the City offered ODBC a compromise proposal regarding the disputed property. The proposal outlined nine parameters containing significant concessions to ODBC, while affirming the City’s approved Waterfront Small Area Plan. The Plan, approved by City Council in 2012, is designed to improve the waterfront’s appearance, increase public access, and implement vital flood mitigation measures. To date, ODBC negotiators have not formally responded to the City’s compromise proposal.
The City wishes to resolve this issue for the following reasons:
- Implementation of the approved Waterfront Plan assures continuous public access and connectivity to the waterfront. The disputed property is the last barrier to ensuring this access.
- Implementation of the Waterfront Plan has begun; park and public space development will start this month; redevelopment is taking place and stakeholders need to know how to move forward.
- Flood mitigation measures planned for the lower King Street area, necessary to the sustainability and vibrancy of lower King Street, will be integral to the overall success of the Waterfront Plan.
The City has made every effort to offer the ODBC fair solutions; however, the Club’s requests remain outside of what the City considers necessary for the public good. While no decision has been made about what tool City Council will use to implement the Waterfront Plan, one option under consideration is eminent domain. Eminent domain is the government’s ability to acquire private property for public use after fair and just compensation to the property owner. There is an established judicial process in place so property owners are fairly and adequately compensated for any land acquired by eminent domain.
Old Dominion Boat Club Responses
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