Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Preserve Natural Environment

To The Editor:

The appreciation for old trees, a steep, forested ravine, and natural springs and stream inspired the Karig's nearly a century ago to carefully build their home amidst old-age oaks and commemorate the setting with the name Derwyddon — "An Oak Grove Where the Druids Dwell." Sadly, if the spirits of the Druids still inhabit this property's old forest canopy they are sure to be soundly evicted if the environmentally destructive "Karig Estates" development plan, approved by Planning and Zoning in November, is not checked and balanced by City Council on Jan. 20.

The disastrous construction plan for Karig Estates at 3832 and 3834 Seminary Road calls for razing much of the property's forest, regrading and filling in much of the ravine, adding four oversized houses and extensive impervious surface, replacing a natural waterway with an artificial, soon-to-be overburdened storm water system, and a myriad of other serious environmental concerns. There's a reason steep, forested ravines like this with streams and wetlands weren't developed in the past.

However, Alexandria believes such sites are perfectly suitable for major development, ignoring the many valid concerns raised by experts, by science based studies and reports, and by the experiences of city residents — voters and taxpayers — whose properties have been damaged by previous development in the contiguous area of Seminary Ridge. Remember, too, all of the carbon taken out of the air by these old trees that helped purify the air we all breathe will be released. Clearly, nothing in the proposal advances the goals of the city’s Environmental Action Plan, or substantiates claims of Alexandria’s being an “Eco-City.”

For example, there is a forested spring and wetlands on the property designated to be protected by a 50-foot buffer. In Alexandria, however, such protection does not preclude allowing a 15-foot wide sanitary sewer line through the wetlands, thereby destroying the very resource "intended" to be protected.

If it is to be developed, the Karig's Derwyddon can only accommodate a maximum of two buildings, including the current residence; three new buildings is reckless, and four even more so. While tearing down the current home and squeezing in another building close to the Beth El Congregation property will still result in lots of old oaks and woodland nearer Seminary Road to being removed, but it's the only effective compromise to both sides if development is imminent.

Let's make a fresh start in 2018 to appreciate and preserve the last of Alexandria's natural environment — not after everything valuable is gone but while there's still time. It's up to City Council to do just this by remanding this sure-disaster back to Planning and Zoning for proper planning and overhaul.

Robert and Suzanne McLaughlin

Alexandria

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