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by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm 2,734 6 Comments

Commuters are experiencing major backups on the GW Parkway due to a serious accident in Fairfax County.

The crash occurred on the GW Parkway near Route 123. According to an Arlington Alert email, traffic was shut down in both directions to allow a Medevac helicopter to land.

Backups on the northbound lanes of the Parkway reportedly extend down to the Memorial Bridge

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm 683 28 Comments

Site plan for Potomac Regional Overlook ParkEven though it was recently scaled back, a plan to add amenities to Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 N Marcey Road) is still drawing strong criticism from a group of residents.

The plan calls for a new stage/shelter, a new scout camping area, a renovated bird of prey structure and, possibly, a tree house overlook and a small urban farm. The initial plan, which included a zip line, a rock climbing wall and a paved parking lot, was modified after an outcry from residents.

Opponents of the plan have formed the Potomac Overlook Preservation Association, and launched a website that implores visitors to “Save Potomac Overlook Park.”

The association will be holding a public meeting tonight (Tuesday), with scheduled speakers from the organization as well as from the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which owns the park and proposed the changes at a public meeting last month.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Church of the Covenant (2666 Military Road).

Children in Potomac Overlook Regional Park (photo via Potomac Overlook Preservation Association)Stephen Blakely, president of the Potomac Overlook Preservation Association, says the he expects “a strong turnout and a lively meeting.” He accused the NVRPA of attempting “to turn a nature preserve into a theme park.”

The Donaldson Run Civic Association, which also opposes the plan, sent a letter last week asking the NVRPA to “press the ‘reset button’” on the park plan.

Both associations accused the NVRPA of giving residents an inadequate amount of time to respond to the proposed changes.

“It is unfortunate that the many users of Potomac Overlook were brought in at such a late point in the process,” said the Donaldson Run letter. “Arlington has a long tradition of engaging its residents when major decisions such as this one, come before a community.”

Potomac Overlook Regional Park is a 67-acre park. Current amenities include “peaceful woodland, trails, educational gardens, a small picnic area,” a birds of prey facility and a nature center. The park also hosts summer concerts and summer camps.

Photo (bottom) via Potomac Overlook Preservation Association

by Peter Rousselot — March 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm 2,049 148 Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotRepublican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be elected Virginia Governor this year. If he succeeds, the values on which he has built his political career ensure that he would exploit every opportunity to set Virginia’s women back 60 years to an era in which they were “stuck in the drudgery of domestic servitude.”

You think I’m exaggerating? Cuccinelli supports a “personhood amendment” to Virginia’s Constitution.

The practical effect of enacting a personhood law in Virginia would be to end or cripple a series of personal rights and private decisions that Virginia’s women have enjoyed for decades, such as:

  • Birth control
  • Fertility treatment
  • Management of a miscarriage
  • Access to safe and legal abortions

Cuccinelli is also the godfather of the effort to drive all abortion clinics in Virginia out of business. In 2011, the Virginia legislature passed a law that classified abortion clinics that perform more than 5 first-trimester abortions per month as hospitals rather than doctor’s offices. The intent of the law, candidly admitted by many of its sponsors, was to drive these clinics out of business entirely because of the expense of compliance.

This 2011 abortion clinic law was patterned after an earlier bill that Cuccinelli had sponsored when he was in the Virginia State Senate. In his current role as Attorney General, Cuccinelli has fought every step of the way to be sure that this abortion clinic law is harshly and mercilessly applied to wipe these clinics out.

Further cementing his role as a champion of setting women’s rights back decades, Cuccinelli recently welcomed a $1.5 million pledge to his campaign for Governor from the Susan B. Anthony List — “a national organization known for its extreme stance on women’s health care.”

A Virginia governed by Ken Cuccinelli would be a 21st century real-life version of Margaret Atwood’s classic 1985 science fiction novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Cuccinelli’s views on the proper role of women in our society are central to his values and the way in which he would govern our state.

This is not science fiction — this is all too real. We can’t afford to take a risk like this.

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm 1,103 19 Comments

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: I’m planning to purchase a home in Arlington this spring and have heard stories about how crazy the market is getting. I’ve read about people waiving their appraisal contingency in markets like this. Can you explain how that works?

It’s important to first understand why someone would consider this strategy… residential appraisers primarily employ the sales comparison approach to determining a home’s value. This method is heavily reliant on past comparable sales. In situations where a home may sell for more than the recent sales prices of comparable homes (i.e. due to competition from multiple offers), the property may appraise for less than the agreed upon sales price.

If an appraisal comes in low, we usually use it as leverage to try and negotiate a lower sales price. It isn’t exactly fair to the seller because they agreed to a higher price at the onset, but sometimes it is necessary for a buyer to be able to continue with the purchase. Therefore, you can see how waiving the appraisal contingency up front would strengthen an offer by relieving the seller of having to worry about whether a contract they are considering will appraise for the agreed upon purchase price or not.

From a purchaser’s perspective, waiving the appraisal contingency could result in a situation that requires more funds than initially expected, change the loan terms (i.e. monthly payments could be more expensive) or even cause the contract to be in default if the purchaser is unable to proceed with the purchase.

Based on the loan program you use, the lender will require a minimum amount of equity on your part. In turn, they are only willing to finance the balance of that equity. For instance, if your loan requires a minimum of 20% owner equity, it will lend up to 80% of the lower between purchase price or appraisal value. If you are stretching financially to meet the minimum requirement of your loan program then waiving the appraisal contingency is not an option for you.

If you are putting down a lot more money than is required by your loan program, then waiving all or a portion of the appraisal, contingency may be an option, one you could consider very carefully. In this situation it might affect your down-payment or monthly payments. However, it eliminates your leverage to try and negotiate a lower purchase price if the appraisal comes in low.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm 4,965 105 Comments

A smash and grab robbery at the Tourneau store at Pentagon City mall on 3/19/13

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A group of robbers got away with $609,000 worth of Rolex watches in a smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall this morning.

According to police, four men wearing ski masks and gloves entered the Tourneau watch store, near the main S. Hayes Street entrance to the mall, around 10:30 a.m. The men smashed the front of a display case with a hammer, then grabbed 23 Rolex watches valued at $609,000, police said.

The men then fled, hopped in a getaway vehicle parked in front of the mall with an accomplice in the driver’s seat, and took off. The car was described as a charcoal gray, four-door sedan.

The entire robbery took less than 30 seconds, according to police.

No customers or employees were on the “floor” of the store at the time of the robbery. One employee who was cleaning the outside of the store yelled for someone to call police during the robbery. Five employees were in the back of the store, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The crime is similar to another smash and grab robbery at the mall last month — during which 27 rings worth approximately $128,000 were stolen — but police so far have not been able to determine a definitive connection.

Surveillance video of the robbery is expected to be released at some point. Still images from the video are provided below.

Surveillance image of smash-and-grab robbery at Tourneau in Pentagon City mall (photo courtesy ACPD) Surveillance image of smash-and-grab robbery at Tourneau in Pentagon City mall (photo courtesy ACPD)

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 11:15 am 2,076 104 Comments

Child care (photo via Arlington County)A group of residents is organizing to oppose a proposed cut to child care regulation in Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed budget.

Donnellan’s budget, which is under consideration by the County Board, cuts the county’s Child Care Office, which regulates local daycare centers. Three full time positions would be eliminated, saving $250,000 annually.

If the cut were made, a local ordinance regulating daycare providers would be eliminated, and oversight of such daycare centers would be returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which opponents say has weaker standards than the county. In addition, family daycare centers with up to 5 children are not regulated by the state and would instead go unregulated.

Opponents of the Child Care Office cut have formed an online petition, now with 288 supporters, and a Facebook page, with 113 fans, to send a message to county leaders.

“The County Code and Child Care Office PROTECT our children by requiring small home daycares to be licensed and by requiring SIGNIFICANTLY higher standards for all settings,” says the petition page. “Investing in early childhood is SMART ECOMONICS: research has shown high quality early care and education significantly decreases major social and economonic problems such as crime, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of high school and adverse health conditions.”

The petition was started by Sandra Redmore, director of the Clarendon Child Care Center.

In addition to eliminating local oversight of the county’s dozens of licensed daycare providers, the closure of the Child Care Office would eliminate professional development programs run by the office.

Child Care Office supporters are being asked to register today to speak at the upcoming March 26 public budget hearing.

Photo via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 10:00 am 578 45 Comments

Extra Virgin in Shirlington (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Extra Virgin restaurant in Shirlington has closed its doors. The Italian eatery announced the closure this morning via Twitter and Facebook.

“We’ll miss all loyal customers,” the restaurant said. “Thank you so much for the good times.”

Said another social media post: “Restaurant items for sale. Call 202-256-0444. Everything must go!!”

Via Twitter, Extra Virgin said that the restaurant closed because it was not making enough money in sales to pay the rent.

As of December, Extra Virgin owed Arlington County $38,402.12 in unpaid meals taxes. That debt has since been repaid.

“All taxes owed by Extra Virgin have been paid so that their present balance is zero,” Arlington County Treaurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com.

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2013 at 9:15 am 1,313 11 Comments

Car drives through standing water in Pentagon City

Water Change Underway — The annual, temporary switch from chloramine to chlorine as the tap water disinfectant is beginning, as part of a flush of the water system. During this time, Arlington residents may notice a change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. The water system’s “spring cleaning” is scheduled to run through April 29. [Arlington County]

Ballston Garage to Get $3.5 Million in Repairs — The Arlington County Board on Saturday awarded a contract of up to $3.5 million for structural repairs to the eighth level of the Ballston Public Parking Garage. The eighth level of the garage was added in 2006, but the concrete was found to be deficient for long-term use — prompting claims that resulted in the county settling with the original contractor for an undisclosed sum. Kettler Capitals Iceplex, which is located on the top level of the garage, will remain open during the construction, which is expected to take 5-6 months. [Sun Gazette]

Spring Yard Waste Collection Begins Updated at 12:20 p.m. — Arlington’s annual spring yard waste collection began Monday. During the collection, which runs through April 26, residents can get paper bags full of yard waste picked up the next business day after their regular trash collection day. [Arlington County]

Pentagon Row Ice Rink Closes — Yesterday (Monday) was the last day of the season for ice skating at Pentagon Row. The Pentagon Row ice rink is now being dismantled. Skating is expected to resume in November. [Pentagon Row]

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