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Alexandria City Council considers reframing Business Improvement District vote to excise absentee property owners

The 200 block of King Street in Old Town, Alexandria (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated 3:40 p.m.) To get a business improvement district (BID) approved for Old Town, proponents will need the support of 60% of properties in the proposed zone. But a new change could cut property owners who don’t engage at all out of that 60% requirement.

City Council member John Chapman said after outreach was done for the Old Town BID there were over 200 property owners that never responded either in favor or against the proposal.

Currently, not weighing in on the project is tantamount to not supporting it.

“Those business owners wanted to look at adjusting the way we were doing counting to not qualify those individuals for counting toward the percentage of property owners that were either for or against the BID,” Chapman said.

While the proposed BID would get a leg up by not counting absent property owners in that 60% requirement, previous attempts at getting the BID going have faced active community backlash at times.

While many on the City Council expressed their support for that change, Chapman said the city should do more outreach to those property owners first for “another opportunity to have their voices heard for or against the creation of a business improvement district.”

“The goal is to engage those individuals, if they remain not voting at all, that their property would not count toward whether or not we do a BID,” Chapman said. “We do not want those who do not engage with this process to count against this process.”

Others on the City Council generally expressed support for the change. City Council member Sarah Bagley said she’s heard from businesses that support the idea of the BID but have absentee owners who don’t weigh in one way or the other.

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