Members of the Beauregard Rezoning Advisory Group hashed out details about architectural standards and implementation phasing Saturday morning at James K. Polk Elementary School.
The group reviewed architectural standards and guidelines for buildings in the proposed redevelopment presented by Marina Khoury, a partner with DPZ, the project's planning firm. Group member and lawyer Cathy Puskar warned against creating an overly-detailed form-based code that could allow developers to build without further community input.
A form-based code sets general standards for buildings, such as width and height. Puskar also said despite comments from some in the community the project was being rushed, several of her clients have been waiting to build in the area for years.
“It's just wrong,” she said. “And what's going to happen is these guys are going to say, enough is enough.”
Khoury said form-based codes can be as restricted or as loose as planners decide but some standards should be prescribed, such as block sizes.
Group member Carolyn Griglione questioned whether standards set now could be changed in the future.
“It's a little bit scary when we don't get it right,” she said.
Jeff Farner, deputy director of planning for the city of Alexandria, said the city should mandate style and quality standards, such as street and sidewalk width, and leave other options more flexible. Other elements of buildings can be prescribed through a development special use permit.
The group discussed how the standards and guidelines can be used as a living document.
“Things do change, and things will change,” Puskar said.
Group member Kevin Posey cautioned the group should maintain flexibility in the project, saying not all group members will see eye-to-eye on all elements. Puskar said while some members may like elements others find horrific, setting standards will at least ensure the buildings are high-quality.
The group then launched into a discussion on details of the plan's implementation phasing, which determines at which point in the planning process different elements will be addressed, concurring with city planners on provisions including alleyways, a grocery store, land use strategy, a fire station, parking, building orientation and walkability.
Group members recommended changes to the implementation phasing on elements including street cart vendors, provision of government services such as a post office, a community facilities proposal and prohibition of surface parking lots.