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This fall, Alexandria’s city council approved plans for a new project at the still-developing Potomac Yards site along Route 1. As a blurb in the December issue of the city’s citizen newsletter FYI Alexandria pointed out, the development will feature 216 condos, the city’s first new fire station in 30 years, and 60 units of affordable housing—to be built right on top of the station.
Those involved in the project insist it’s an innovative way to provide housing for the city’s workforce, not a case of sticking poor people in noisy, undesirable units that no one else wants. “I think that’s a very rational sort of comment initially, but certainly there are examples, historic examples, of where people live over fire stations,” says Jeff Farner, of the city’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
Among the measure being taken to ensure that the housing is as noiseless as possible are special doors for the truck bays that open and close quietly, advanced building technology that will abate noise, and a plan for trucks not to turn on their sirens until they’re actually out of the station house.
“We’re not thinking of it as a negative at all,” says Farner. “Through construction and programming at the fire station, there are ways to deal with these things.”