May 9, 2018

Meeting Recap Alert: City Council’s Legislative Meeting May 8, 2018

Recap of City Council’s Legislative Meeting

held May 8, 2018

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Last night, the Alexandria City Council held their regular legislative meeting, where they received a presentation on De-Scoping Changes to the Potomac Yard Metro Station and discussed a Recommendation to Rename Portions of U.S. Route 1 as well as a Resolution supporting the Underground Transmission Line Working Group (UTLWG) Recommendation on Dominion Energy’s 230kV line proposals and Memorandums of Agreement related to Dominion’s proposed purchase of certain real property rights related to the transmission line. In a related item, they also considered an ordinance to sunset the Tier II Tax District in Potomac Yard.

Details can be found online and below.

Item: De-Scoping Changes to the Potomac Yard Metro
Action: None. Oral Report provided to City Council by the City Manager.
Next Steps: Public meeting and briefing to the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Group (PYMIG) tonight (Weds. 5/9/18 at 7:00 PM- details)
Description: City staff provided a briefing on changes to the scope of work for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station reporting that “the original price proposals substantially exceeded the project budget requiring the City and WMATA to evaluate an array of possible changes in project scope that would reduce the project cost while remaining consistent with the primary project objectives.”
Details & Issues of Interest:

– See attachments for visuals that illustrate the following changes:

Elimination of the south entrance at East Glebe Road and removal of the south station mezzanine, including the west ramp (this entrance would serve existing offices under construction and residents south of those offices on both sides of the tracks)

Removal of the planned south pedestrian/ bicycle bridge and east ramp

– Park improvements have also been eliminated, other than restoration of existing park features required due to the Station construction

– A public entrance to the north mezzanine to accommodate pedestrian access from the Potomac Greens (east side) of the station will be included

– While the station design will be amended to remove these elements, the City will actively consider future grant opportunities that may expand capacity and improve access to the station based on need

– These changes allow the construction of the smaller station to proceed with delivery in late 2021-early 2022

– City Council members asked questions and made comments in response to this oral report.

Item: Renaming Portions of U.S. Route 1
Action: Unanimous vote to receive the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway and to schedule a public hearing on the adoption of a related ordinance.
Next Steps: Introduction of an ordinance that would rename Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway, and scheduling of a public hearing in June 2018.
Description: In 2015, City Council unanimously established an Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names. One of the functions of that body was to “develop recommendations on actions, if any, that it believes City Council should consider with respect to … the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the City of Alexandria.” In 2016 the body submitted its final report to City Council and included the recommendation that “the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the City of Alexandria should be changed.” Later that year, City Council received the report and held a public hearing. After receiving public comment, City Council voted unanimously to direct the City Manager to begin the process of renaming Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria by creating a robust community engagement process that may include Arlington County.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– After reviewing the public input, each of the four members stated that “Richmond Highway” was his or her preferred name

– The members pointed out that U.S. Route 1 is already named “Richmond Highway” in Fairfax County, and that the name would have historic and current significance without inherent controversy

– The members voted unanimously to recommend “Richmond Highway,” contingent on vetting the selection for any technical issues

– The members also expressed specific concern about Patrick Henry, commenting that it would not be within the spirit of the name change to replace the name of one slaveholder with another. The Advisory Group did not suggest changing the name of Patrick Street or Henry Street on which Route 1 crosses Alexandria.

– City staff provided a presentation to City Council, followed by a few questions and deliberations by the body.

Item: Underground Transmission Line Working Group (UTLWG) Recommendation on Dominion Energy’s 230kV line proposals and Memorandums of Agreement related to Dominion’s proposed purchase of certain real property rights related to the transmission line
Action: Unanimous vote to receive the Work Group’s recommendation, initiate a resolution recommending that both Potomac Avenue and the CSX Railroad Corridor Alternatives be designated “least objectionable” and proceed to a public hearing
Next Steps: Public Hearing on Saturday, May 12, 2018
Description: Since mid-2014, the City has been working with Dominion Energy on their proposal for a new 230-kilovolt underground transmission line from the existing Glebe Substation in Arlington County to Pepco’s existing Potomac River Substation in Old Town North. Dominion has cited multiple electric reliability studies that have determined by summer 2020 the existing transmission facilities in the City and Arlington County will no longer adequately meet demand and mandatory North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reliability criteria.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– Dominion initially proposed nine potential alignments for a transmission line and requested that the City identify an alternative that it could support as part of Dominion’s planned submission to the State Corporation Commission (SCC), which is the state entity charged with approving transmission line proposals.

– In response, the UTLWG adopted a resolution opposing any overhead transmission lines and identifying a route that included the CSX Railroad Corridor as a “least objectionable alternative”- which was then adopted by City Council.

– After more than a year of work with the railroad, Dominion returned to the UTLWG and City with news that costs to implement the CSX option had increased by $100 million to a total of $420 million, making this option unapprovable by regulatory agencies.

– The group and City were asked to reconsider the Potomac Avenue option- which will cost $330 million.

– The UTLWG identified the following concerns with the Potomac Avenue option:

loss of trees

impacts on open space

electric and magnetic fields (EMF)

construction impacts- noise, nighttime work & traffic

– The Potomac Avenue alternative will require Dominion to pay the City $43.3 million in compensation for an easement

– The City Manager proposed that City Council consider a repeal of the Tier II Potomac Yard Tax District (within this 230kv project area), contingent on receiving at least $14.6 million in compensation from Dominion for either the Potomac Avenue Alternative or the Railroad Corridor Alternative

– Council’s consideration of the 230kv line Resolution and memorandums does not obligate the City to determine at this time how the $28.7 million balance of funds from the Potomac Avenue Alternative would be allocated

– City staff and Dominion staff provided an presentation, answered questions and engaged with Council during their deliberations on these actions.

Item: Potomac Yard Tier II Special Tax District- Sunset
Action: Unanimous vote to pass on first reading and proceed to a public hearing
Next Steps: Public Hearing on Saturday, May 12, 2018
Description: Proposal to “sunset” the Tier II Special Tax District in Potomac Yard, which will levy a special tax on all properties within the boundaries of up to 10 cents beginning the first calendar year after the Potomac Yard Metrorail opened.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– See notes above about the link to compensation as part of the 230kv line Resolution

– The Tier II district was adopted in June 2011 as part of an overall financing plan for the Potomac Yard Metro, prior to construction of residential properties in the area.

– The tax is scheduled to go into effect January 1st of the year following the opening of the Metro station.

– The sunset action would effectively prevent this tax from ever being levied on property owners in the Tier II district- identifying a portion of the compensation from Dominion as part of the 230kv line easement as replacement revenue.

– There was no discussion by City Council on this item.

 

 

Weigh in on these issues!

Contact the Planning Commission – PlanComm@alexandriava.gov
Contact the City Council – Call.Click.Connect.