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‘Weapon and Gear Shop’ Plans Move to Nauck

by Ethan Rothstein | August 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,608 views | No Comments

A store selling civilian and military-grade weaponry and tactical gear is planning to move into the ground floor of a condominium building in the Nauck neighborhood.

SpecDive Tactical, which currently operates out of an apartment building on S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington, hopes to move into the ground floor of 2249 S. Shirlington Road, next door to Pizzoli Pizza. When contacted, SpecDive Tactical’s owner Gerald Rapp confirmed an agreement was in place to move into the space, but otherwise declined to comment on the record.

SpecDive’s initial building permit application was rejected, according to Arlington Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Helen Duong, “because there were no parking spaces available for the new retail.” CPHD has asked for a new plan with parking provided, Duong said.

The shop has been in business since 2012, according to the owner profile section of SpecDive’s Yelp page. It has a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Federal Firearm License, according to ATF records. On the Yelp page, Rapp says he was in the Marine Corps from 1985 to 1994 and a U.S. Navy deep sea diver after that.

“SpecDive, LLC., a veteran owned small business, was created in direct response to the need for the Military and federal law enforcement  to partner effectively with private industries to meet the current and future needs of a citizen-centric government and world leader,” the Yelp page reads.

The shop was the subject of a petition from Nauck residents back in March, who were hoping to prevent it from moving in.

“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” an email announcing the petition stated. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”

Reached for comment last week, Nauck Civic Association President Alfred Taylor said nothing has changed regarding the NCA’s position on the gun shop. He noted that Rapp is expected to attend the September NCA meeting.

“The position of the Association has not changed in that they would rather not have a facility of that sort at that location,” Taylor wrote in an email, “but realize it is a by-right retail business in accordance with all zoning regulations.”

Rapp has already met with representatives from the county and Arlington Public Schools and members of the community, including Drew Model School Parent Teacher Association President Evan Thomas. Thomas said the PTA has no formal position on SpecDive’s planned move, and may or may not take one when its membership reconvenes after the school year begins.

“The general tone of the meeting was pretty cordial,” Thomas told ARLnow.com today. “What Jerry spent most of his time discussing was their security protocols, what they do, their process for selling firearms, answered questions in regards to how a person could go about obtaining a firearm, what types of firearms they could purchase and the difference between the requirements for a shotgun or rifle or pistol. Those are the items you can buy off the street, assuming you can pass the background check they do.”

Thomas, speaking as a parent and resident of the area, said Rapp assuaged some of his trepidation about a gun dealer moving into the neighborhood.

“I have two kids who attend Drew… so you’re always concerned about the safety of the area where there school is,” Thomas said. “At the end of the meeting I felt as comfortable as you can with a business like that. He’s very cognizant of the perils, the need for security and the implications of what could happen to him in terms of losing his business, losing his license, facing potential jail time if he slips up. I felt comfortable with him as a business owner.”

New Benches to Be Installed Near Ballston Metro Station

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 2,516 views | No Comments

The Ballston property manager that replaced planters to prevent people from sitting says benches will soon be installed in their place.

Stephen Gilbert, the vice president of marketing for Gates Hudson, the property manager of the building adjacent to the Ballston Metro station, said the company plans to install 15 benches near the station and next to the new planters by mid-August.

Additional “street furniture” is also planned for the busy bus stop.

“This is a cross promotion with the Ballston [Business Improvement District] and we are investing nearly $28,000 to improve the seating area,” Gilbert wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “The bus shelters currently in place and managed by WMATA and Arlington County are not adequate in our opinion.”

Gates Hudson replaced the planters earlier this month because, as an employee told ARLnow.com, “they’re meant to be planters and that’s it… A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.” Gilbert said that the new planters’ capstones “were only a small part” of Gates Hudson’s master plan for improving the space on N. Stuart Street.

“I ensure you that once you see what we have under construction you will see that we are creating a very convenient and comfortable space for commuters and pedestrians,” Gilbert wrote.

Ballston Planters Replaced To Prevent Sitting

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 6,096 views | No Comments

Ballston planter before it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)  Ballston planter after it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)

Several planters on the sidewalk of N. Stuart Street in Ballston, just outside the Ballston Metro station were recently rebuilt to stop people from taking a seat.

The planters were replaced by property manager Gates Hudson this month, and while the trees are still there, the flat surface around the soil has been converted into a sharply angled corner designed specifically to prevent people waiting for the buses from sitting down.

“They’re meant to be planters and that’s it,” a Gates Hudson employee told ARLnow.com. “There are many benches outside, and the goal was to have people sit there and not on the planters. A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.”

In a letter to the Arlington County Board, Metrobus rider Jana Lynott said the property owners around the Metro station had “vitriol” for transit riders who are perceived as loiterers.

“As a regular Metrobus 1A rider, I was offended by the insinuation that we riders were viewed as dirty loiterers that bring down commercial property values,” Lynott wrote. “I’m not convinced that my fellow transit riders are a scourge upon society that need to be dealt with through exclusive design… Why in Arlington, VA, a community that invests millions of dollars a year into recruiting new riders to our world-class transit system, would we possibly embrace such a backward notion of transit accessibility? Please. Do not let this exclusive design become standard practice in our community.”

Photos courtesy Jana Lynott

Moran Banned From Entering Russia

by Ethan Rothstein | July 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,839 views | No Comments

Rep. Jim Moran speaks at the groundbreaking of the Central Place residential construction in RosslynRep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been banned from entering Russia, a Russian official announced this weekend.

Moran is one of 13 people banned from entering the country, all of whom, according to the Associated Press, are “connected with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”

In a press release, Moran countered by saying the ban is a result of his proposed amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have stopped U.S. helicopter purchases from Rosoboronexport, the “sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services.” Moran proposed the ban because of Rosoboronexport’s alleged supply of arms to Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.

“While this does clarify my overseas travel plans,” Moran said in his statement, “it seems that the Putin regime would be better served by addressing the consequences of encouraging and enabling Donetsk separatists to perform such a heinous act of cold blooded cruelty or utter incompetence that resulted in the mass murder of nearly 300 innocent civilians.”

Moran was the only congressman on the blacklist. The others include Guantanamo commander Rear Adm. Richard Butler, Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, retired Col. Janis Karpinsky and Gladys Kessler, “a federal judge who rejected a Guantanamo inmate’s complaint of being force-fed while on hunger strike,” according to the AP.

The bans were a tit-for-tat response to the U.S.’s ban Russian parliament member Adam Delimkhanov, according to a statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. Lukashevich said Moran was “repeatedly accused of financial misdeeds,” but didn’t give any specifics.

Moran’s office said the congressman, who is set to retire at the end of his term, “has no plans to travel to Russia.”

Morning Poll: Should News Outlets Ban the Name ‘Redskins?’

by ARLnow.com | July 9, 2014 at 11:55 am | 1,801 views | No Comments

Washington Redskins HelmetThe controversy over the name of Washington’s professional football team shows no signs of dying down.

Earlier this week, Democratic blogger and former Arlington resident Ben Tribbett made national news when he resigned from the Redskins. The team hired him two weeks prior to support the public relations battle against sentiment that “Redskins” as a racial slur against Native Americans.

Tribbett, a supporter of the name, said he resigned because the debate got too personal — “things got too hot to handle” and became a distraction to the team.

Tribbett’s hiring came as pressure mounts on the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder to change the name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month revoked the trademark on “Redskins,” saying it is “disparaging of Native Americans.” For that same reason, media organizations from the Washington City Paper to the Seattle Times to a student newspaper in Pennsylvania have been banning the use of the team’s name in news coverage.

Tribbett, who now lives in Lorton, says he continues to support the Redskins and thinks news outlets should report, not moralize when it comes to the name.

“The reason I support the Redskins name is, I don’t think it’s a slur first of all,” Tribbett told ARLnow.com this morning. “Having grown up in this area, nothing brought the entire D.C. area together more than the Redskins, and the idea that it’s now a divisive issue really bothers me.”

“I don’t see why anyone would not publish the name, the name of the football team is the Washington Redskins,” Tribbett continued. “Until Dan Snyder or someone else says otherwise, i think journalists should report the news and not make it.”

What do you think? Should news outlets — including ARLnow.com — ban the name or keep using it?
 

County Manager to Recommend Permit Process, Fees for Pub Crawls

by ARLnow.com | July 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm | 2,798 views | No Comments

Pub crawl organizers should have to obtain a permit for each crawl and reimburse the county for the cost of extra police on the street.

That’s what Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is expected to recommend to the County Board at its meeting later this month. Donnellan will recommend that pub crawls be classified as “special events,” subject to the county’s special events policy, according to county officials.

Arlington’s special events policy was last updated in 2012. The policy is designed to ensure that adequate resources are available for special events while allowing the county to recover its support costs.

Classifying pub crawls as a special event is seen as a compromise, somewhere in between the crawl participants who would like the events to continue unabated and residents who see the crawls as a nuisance and would like them curtailed. The events will continue, but in a more regulated environment, provided organizers can afford the extra costs.

“Organizers would have to get a special events permit and would be required to cover the costs of additional police, fire and trash services — above core services — generated by their event,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com. “At this point, the Manager’s recommendation does not include any minimum or maximum allowed numbers of pub crawls — the applications will be reviewed as they come in and approved based on the availability of resources.”

Donnellan’s recommendation is coming less than a month after an attendee at the All American Bar Crawl (photos from the event, above) allegedly stripped naked and led police on a car chase that ended in a crash in Clarendon. In an email to a concerned constituent, County Board Chair Jay Fisette addressed the incident.

“I want you to know that we have no tolerance for this kind of behavior. At the same time I want to stress that this incident was highly unusual,” Fisette wrote. “Our top priority is safety. The Board has concerns about the impacts of pub crawls and in April asked the Manager to research options to address these impacts.”

Fisette went on to say that pub crawls can be regulated, but not banned.

Clarendon is one of our most vibrant and lively areas. We support the businesses there, and we welcome visitors who patronize our many great restaurants, shops and pubs. We want to keep it a great place to live, visit, dine, work and shop. It’s important to know that, under Virginia law, we can’t ban pub crawls. We can, however, regulate pub crawls to ensure that they are safe for all and effectively managed. Part of that regulation must include ways that the County can recover some of the costs associated with the stepped-up enforcement activities during the events, and trash and litter cleanup after the events. In the meantime, as part of the FY15 budget, the Board approved one-time funding ($42,000) for overtime costs in the Police department while a longer term strategy is developed to address the increasing frequency and cost associated with pub crawl events.

In addition to the June incident, a bar crawl attendee made the news in March when she allegedly showed up naked at the Arlington Magistrate’s Office and demanded that she be allowed to visit her husband, who was arrested earlier that day during a St. Patrick’s Day-themed pub crawl.

Both bar crawls were organized by Courthouse-based Project D.C. Events. According to the company, the two events attracted a combined 8,500-9,000 registered attendees.

“It’s two incidents out of thousands of people,” said Project D.C. Events co-owner Alex Lopez, who also pointed out that neither happened inside a bar. Lopez and fellow co-owner Mike Bramson said they work closely with Arlington County Police and with participating bars to ensure there’s plenty of security on hand.

Neither could explain why bar crawls in Arlington have resulted in high-profile incidents and controversy while D.C.-based crawls seem to go off without a hitch.

“We’ve taken the same steps in D.C. as we do in Arlington,” Bramson said.

“You don’t hear about bar crawls in D.C. because nothing happens at them,” said Lopez. “If you say, ‘oh everything was peaceful in the last bar crawl,’ well, no one is going to read that.”

Bramson and Lopez said they and other bar crawl organizers shouldn’t be on the hook for the cost of extra police staffing because the events are already generating thousands in extra tax revenue.

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Fire Chief Gives Recommendations for New Station

by ARLnow.com | June 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,402 views | No Comments

Arlington Fire Chief Jim Schwartz on Tuesday presented the County Board with recommendations from the county’s latest fire station location study, and the results are not without controversy.

A consultant has recommended that Arlington move Fire Station 8 further north, defying neighborhood protestations; close the “neighborhood treasure” Fire Station 7; and build a new fire station on the eastern portion of Columbia Pike.

Tuesday was the first time the Board had received a detailed public rundown of results in the TriData report from December 2012. The report assessed Arlington’s need for emergency services and how needs have changed. The last assessment of Arlington’s fire response needs had been nearly 13 years prior.

“Communities on a regular basis need to assess where their fire stations are,” said Schwartz. “Communities change a great deal, this one certainly has in the last couple of decades.”

Schwartz explained that 60 percent of Arlington County Fire Department’s activity comes from emergency medical calls, 30 percent from fire or hazmat calls and 10 percent are non-emergency public service calls, such as stuck elevators. The sections of Arlington County producing the most calls consistently coincide with the most densely populated areas. Fire Station No. 5, near Crystal City, is currently the busiest in Arlington.

ACFD aims to respond to all fire calls within four minutes of being dispatched, and respond to medical calls within eight minutes. However, those goals are not being met in the northern portion of the county, Schwartz noted. He said there is no fire station located in the northernmost part of the county, which causes response times there to be longer than in areas with better station coverage.

“We have not been physically located where we can get to the northernmost portion of the county in four minutes. So that has been a long term goal of the department, to move a facility into an area that physically enables us to get there as quickly as possible,” said Schwartz.

The need to offer better coverage in the northern part of the county prompted a recommendation in the TriData report to move Station No. 8 from its position on Lee Highway in the Hall’s Hill/Highview neighborhood to county-owned land at Old Dominion Drive and 26th Street N., near Marymount University.

That proposal rankled members of the Old Dominion Civic Association, who say the county did not reach out and allow residents to give feedback. Several residents of that neighborhood believe the land on which the new station would be built should instead be preserved as park space.

“I will acknowledge the report recommended as better sites from a response perspective, Williamsburg Blvd at Glebe Road, and Rock Spring Road at Glebe Road. Both areas where there is a lot of private property that I do not envision us taking. And so we said, what’s the next best alternative, and they focused back on the recommendation of 26th and Old Dominion,” said Schwartz.

Several County Board members echoed the community concern over a lack of explanation for building a fire station at the proposed site.

“We do need more information,” said Board member Walter Tejada. “I guess the concern people feel, the reason is they have been surprised or blindsided by it. I’m hoping those questions will be answered so we can pass them on to our residents who want to know how did this come about.”

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Morning Poll: Too Much Complaining?

by ARLnow.com | June 2, 2014 at 10:35 am | 2,693 views | No Comments

County Board budget hearingArlington is a famously civically-active community. It’s the “Arlington Way.” But do residents sometimes take their expectations for responsive governance and residential serenity too far?

Arlington residents — many of whom are government workers and, perhaps as a result, have high expectations for the way things ought to be here – are not shy about letting their opinions known. In the past week, we’ve seen complaints about a proposed fire station, local restaurants, and an article about a basketball player serving ice cream.

In the past, varying degrees of neighborhood controversy have erupted over new streetlights, a house with a “cornhole-friendly yard,” a small fence, a proposed bocce court, a proposed five-story apartment building and grocery store, an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, outdoor restaurant seating, rooftop signs, boisterous bar-goers, and kids dancing in the street.

Do Arlington residents take their complaints too far at times, or is it just the sign of a healthy, active community?
 

Old Dominion Residents ‘Blindsided’ by Planned Fire Station

by Ethan Rothstein | May 30, 2014 at 12:30 pm | 3,975 views | No Comments

The proposed site of Fire Station 8The Old Dominion Civic Association says it was “blindsided” by a plan to relocate a fire station to the neighborhood — a plan the association says amounts to the county “hijacking” green space.

The plan, to relocate Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned parcel of land on Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University, was included in Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommended Capital Improvement Plan. The plan (see pp. C-86 and C-88) also calls for the county’s Emergency Operations Center to be relocated from Courthouse to the new fire station site, and for an adjacent salt and mulch storage yard to be replaced and modernized.

The existing Emergency Operation Center is located in a building that’s set to be torn down to make way for the county’s Courthouse Square project and the salt storage yard, which serves snow removal crews in North Arlington, is past its useful life, according to the CIP. The fire station is set to be relocated from 4845 Lee Highway following a 2013 study that suggested the Old Dominion location would improve fire department response times in the area.

The 'Salt Dome' at the proposed site of Fire Station 8The Civic Association, however, is not pleased with the planned facilities, which they say will utilize a piece of currently unused land that they want to be turned into a park.

“When Arlington County published their Proposed FY 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan on May 13th, the residents of the Old Dominion and Donaldson Run Civic Associations, did not have a clue as to the green space ‘hijacking’ the County had in store for their residential neighborhoods,” an Old Dominion Civic Association representative told ARLnow.com via email.

A flyer is being sent to local residents, encouraging them to speak out in opposition to the plan.

“STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR GREEN SPACE!” the flyer reads. “The proposed CIP calls for leveling of all the county-owned green space from 25th Street through the corner of 26th Street and Old Dominion… OPPOSE THE APPROVAL OF THE 25th/26th STREET OFFICE PARK AND FIRE STATION AND MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!”

Richard Lolich, president of the Old Dominion Citizens Association, said that there are lots of families with young children in the neighborhood.

“Because of this there is a real need for good park space for these children and families,” he said. “The County’s proposed location for the relocated fire station is on property that is ideal for a park in the neighborhood — the only neighborhood in Arlington currently without a dedicated park. We strongly feel that the County should address this issue before destroying green space in the middle of our neighborhood.”

The proposed site is within 2 miles of Potomac Overlook Regional Park and 1 mile of Greenbrier Park.

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Pike ‘Super Stops’ Redesigned, Cost Nearly Cut in Half

by Ethan Rothstein | May 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,957 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) The county’s plan for “Super Stop” bus stops on Columbia Pike, which led to the much-maligned $1 million Super Stop at the corner of the Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, has been scrapped in favor of a more affordable design.

The county announced this afternoon that the new plan calls for building the 23 additional transit centers along the Pike for about 40 percent less than the previous budget, dropping the total price from $20.9 million to $12.4 million. The cost of individual stations will be between $362,000 and $672,000.

The freshly-redesigned stops — which were designed by the county and a consultant — will feature six covered, concrete seats, as opposed to the Super Stop’s steel seats. The canopies, which on the Super Stop did little to keep out the elements, will be lowered in height from 13 feet to 10 feet and the angle reduced from 10 degrees to 1.5 degrees. The total canopy coverage will also increase from 243 to 295 square feet on standard transit centers. In addition, side windscreens will be added to enhance weather protection.

“Our goal was accountability, to pinpoint what went wrong in the project management on the Super Stop design, to account for how the money was spent and, going forward, to ensure the transit stations will be built effectively,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said at a press conference held at the Arlington Mill Community Center on Columbia Pike. “Our new design firm has produced… a transit station with a price tag far below the Walter Reed prototype.”

The new stops, which the county is rebranding from “Super Stops” to “transit centers,” have a modular design, meaning each is built with standardized parts that can be added on to in order to create larger stations, as needed. A “single-size” station will cost $362,000, a “standard” transit center will cost $469,000, and an “extended” transit center — planned for the north side of the Pike at S. Glebe Road, for example — will cost about $672,000.

The county will soon issue a request for proposals, after which it will undergo a design phase, with hopes to start work on the first eight stops by FY 2017. The county will directly oversee construction, whereas WMATA was the construction lead on the original Super Stop — something Arlington officials blamed in part for project delays and high costs.

Donnellan said the review of why the Super Stop was so expensive and took too long to build isn’t finalized yet, but hopes to announce its findings within two months.

“I am disappointed the review is not done yet,” she said. “We are working really collaboratively with Metro to finalize the information. It’s sort of like a reconstruction of the information that’s been compiled over the last 10 years.”

The first eight stops to be built are expected to be on either sides of the Pike at S. Glebe Road, S. Oakland Street, S. Barton Street and S. Buchanan Street. As for the Walter Reed Super Stop, it won’t be torn down, said Transit Bureau Chief Stephen Del Giudice. Instead the county will “examine what can be done to improve its performance and weather protection.”

The county surveyed 732 individuals, 515 of whom were users of the Walter Reed stop, and used their input — largely complaints about the lack of weather protection — to design the new transit centers. The survey respondents all liked, however, the real-time information display and the “overall aesthetic” of the stop. Both elements have been incorporated into the new stops.

The county’s press release on the topic, after the jump.

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Nauck Residents Rally Against Possible Gun Shop

by Ethan Rothstein | March 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 3,347 views | No Comments

Nauck Community sign (photo via Nauck Civic Association web site)Nauck residents have started circulating a petition to the Arlington County Board protesting a potential gun store in their neighborhood.

The Nauck Civic Association sent out an email this week saying it heard from “reliable sources” that a gun shop was in lease negotiations with the owners of the Shirlington Heights Condominiums (2249 S. Shirlington Road).

“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” the email states. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”

The petition has 246 signatures as of 4:00 p.m. today with a stated goal of 1,000. The discussion on the petition page has only three comments, one of which suggests a coffee shop in the space, one, from Cara Schatz saying: “A gun shop is not needed, not welcome, and not in line with the priorities of our neighborhood. The residents of 22204 would prefer to see a business that can thrive and provide benefits to those of us who live here. Guns don’t build communities — guns tear them apart.”

One commenter showed that not all local residents are on board with the opposition to the gun store.

“I’m a resident, homeowner, taxpayer, business owner, churchgoer, philanthropist, and community member in South Arlington,” writes Sean Steele, who said his business has been open since 2005. “I’m also a gun owner. And a hunter. And a concealed carry permit holder. All here in the neighborhood. The last time I checked guns were legal here in Arlington, and in Virginia. And, indeed, in the entire country.”

“Until and unless we get past the indefensible, knee-jerk, non-fact-based assertions… we’ll never improve our collective lot,” he continued. “This is a shameful, hysterical petition. It’s sad to see it gain such unthinking support from otherwise intelligent South Arlingtonians.”

Photo via Nauck Civic Association

Restaurant Lashes Out at County Board Over Revoked Permit

by Ethan Rothstein | January 29, 2014 at 11:35 am | 11,557 views | No Comments

Darlene Wilcher(Updated) The Arlington County Board revoked the live entertainment permit for Pines of Italy (3111 Columbia Pike) last night, siding with dismayed neighbors over outraged management.

Pines of Italy General Manager Darlene Wilcher calmly presented the case for a permit renewal. After the board’s unanimous vote against the restaurant, a woman can be heard going up to the live microphone in the board room and calling County Board members “c–ksuckers.”

Wilcher, who said she took over as manager in October, had earlier asked to speak again during the Board’s discussion.

“Can I just say one thing?” she asked while Board Chair Jay Fisette was speaking.

“No, I’m sorry, the discussion is with the Board,” Fisette responded, before telling Wilcher, an Arlington native, “I do want to compliment you personally because you appear to be someone with great possibility, you present yourself very well.”

Less than two minutes later, the Board voted and the expletive was hurled before leaving the room.

The decision to revoke the permit came after neighborhood controversy in 2012 over fights outside the restaurant/hookah bar/nightclub and multiple deferrals by the Board to approve a live entertainment permit, which it finally did in March 2013. Restaurant owner Jorge Escobar — who has owned the building and business since it was called Coco’s Casa Mia a decade earlier — and his management group had vowed to reach out to the community and to put a stop to the health and Alcoholic Beverage Control Board violations that had been repeatedly reported.

“That meeting was one of my high points 9 months ago because I felt so good about it,” Board Member Libby Garvey said. “Where we are now, I find myself thinking about the classic abusive relationship. Things are really awful, and then you say ‘oh no I’m going to be better now,’ but look at this list [of violations since March]… We’ve got to stop this.”

Pines of Italy at 3111 Columbia PikeSince the permit was approved in March, the Arlington County Police Department has reported six calls for service at the restaurant, including “use of the premise for residential purposes” and serving alcohol when the kitchen was closed. According to county staff, it was the second such occurrence since 2011 of an individual appearing to be living in the space.

Five residents of Arlington Heights, some of whom live down the street from the business, asked the Board to revoke the license, citing broken promises in the past from the management to do things differently.

“It’s been a bane in the neighborhood for many years,” resident Scott Winn said. “We’ve had new management, new agreements, new promises and I think it’s time once and for all that we cut the problem to the quick and that the live entertainment license is revoked.”

Wilcher, in her presentation, said since she has taken over the operations, all the code violations and issues with the use permit agreement have been fixed.

“In those months, we have done better,” she said. “We have fixed all of our violations and have no issues with anyone.”

Escobar wasn’t present yesterday during the meeting. He had previously attended meetings on the issue and, in April 2012, his attorney “promised the board that the three partners of this establishment are interested in starting anew.”

Without music, DJs and dancing — all of which will be prohibited without the permit — the nightlife-oriented business faces long odds of survival.

“The main protagonist of this drama is still the owner of the property,” Fisette said. “This doesn’t happen very often, but time’s up. The words that come back to me are fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you. But fool me thrice, shame on me, and that’s where we are.”

Update at 12:55 p.m. — The video of Fisette’s comments and the restaurant manager’s outburst can be found below. It’s not safe for work.

Video: Arlington’s LED Streetlight Program

by ARLnow.com | December 27, 2013 at 11:30 am | 871 views | No Comments

Arlington County is touting its LED streetlight program.

In a new video from the county-run Arlington TV channel, the county says the program of replacing older streetlights with new LED streetlights is saving the Arlington $300,000 annually, thanks to the fact that the new lights are 75 percent more energy efficient. The LED lights will eventually save $1 million annually, after more are installed.

The video also indirectly touched on the controversial aspect of LED streetlights — resident complaints that the new lights are “offensively bright” and shine a blue light that’s “just plain ugly.”

“The lights shine a pure white light that is closer to natural sunlight, and may initially appear overly bright or harsh,” the narrator says. “This is normal. In fact, they’re actually less bright than the older bulbs. So it’s just new — and different.”

Failing Sewage Line Could Prove Costly for Some Lyon Park Homeowners

by ARLnow.com | November 12, 2013 at 10:35 am | 3,857 views | No Comments

Home on the corner of N. Danville and 9th Streets (via Google Maps)Homeowners on the 900 block of N. Daniel and Danville Streets in Lyon Park may have to shell out thousands of dollars to keep their toilets flushing.

A deteriorating, 85-year-old sewage line that runs along the back of residents’ yards was determined, after “extensive research” by county staff, to be privately-owned — built as part of the original development on the block.

Though county workers have in the past cleared the line of blockages, that “cannot continue… because of the extent of deterioration and because the County has no rights to operate or maintain this line,” wrote Dave Hundelt, Arlington County’s Streets Manager, in a letter to a dozen impacted homeowners.

“This line is in failing condition and is beyond repair,” Hundelt wrote. “This is due to the age of the line, its state of deterioration and the physical obstructions that make replacement of this line impractical.”

Residents are being told that they’ll have to construct a lateral connection from their homes to the county-owned sewage lines that run along the street.

Such work typically varies in cost from $5,000 to $10,000, according to Kewin Greenhill, general manager of Ashton Heights-based All Plumbing, Inc. The least expensive option requires a trench to be dug across the homeowners’ front yard. The pricier option can be done less invasively, by use of a pneumatic mole.

If homeowners don’t install a new connection, “the consequences of a failed sewer line would make your home uninhabitable,” Hundelt wrote.

The County is holding a meeting with affected homeowners on Nov. 13 at Key Elementary School. Hundelt promised to arrange follow-up meetings as necessary.

One resident, who did not want to be identified by name, said she felt the county is “abandoning us” by so far not offering to pick up the tab.

“Are we really at the mercy of poor record-keeping on the part of the County after all these years?” she wrote on a neighborhood listsev. “Do we have any rights? Any expectation for financial help, especially those over 70 and on fixed incomes?”

The full letter from Hundelt, after the jump.

Photo via Google Maps

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Death Sentence for Dogs that Kill Chickens Under Va. Law

by ARLnow.com | October 10, 2013 at 10:45 am | 1,442 views | No Comments

Chicken (file photo)It’s a part of Virginia law that mostly pertains to rural areas, crafted to protect farmers and their livestock. But it could also potentially apply to Arlington, should the county allow residents to raise egg-laying hens.

Virginia law section § 3.2-6552 allows for citizens to kill any dog caught in the act of killing or injuring poultry. After the fact, Virginia courts have the power to order animal control officers to kill any dog found to be a “confirmed poultry killer.”

The little-known law may be a deal-breaker for dog-loving Arlington residents, should the county follow a task force recommendation and require potential hen owners to first win the approval of adjacent property holders.

“That could really cause some problems between neighbors,” said Jim Pebley, of the group Backyards, Not Barnyards, which opposes urban chickens in Arlington. “This just adds another reason why relaxing restrictions on raising poultry in residential areas is not a very good idea.”

Asked about the law, supporters of backyard hens didn’t seem concerned, however.

“Thankfully, dogs, people and hens co-exist happily in Baltimore, Richmond, Raleigh, and hundreds of other urban communities across the country that embrace henkeeping,” said Ed Fendley, of the Arlington Egg Project. “We are confident that in Arlington, too, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Other states have similar laws on the books. Two weeks ago in the San Francisco area, two dogs were killed by the owner of chickens the dogs had just killed. The killing of the dogs would be legal under California law, unless the dogs “suffered unduly” and animal cruelty charges can be brought.

The Virginia law is as follows:

It shall be the duty of any animal control officer or other officer who may find a dog in the act of killing or injuring livestock or poultry to kill such dog forthwith whether such dog bears a tag or not. Any person finding a dog committing any of the depredations mentioned in this section shall have the right to kill such dog on sight as shall any owner of livestock or his agent finding a dog chasing livestock on land utilized by the livestock when the circumstances show that such chasing is harmful to the livestock. Any court shall have the power to order the animal control officer or other officer to kill any dog known to be a confirmed livestock or poultry killer, and any dog killing poultry for the third time shall be considered a confirmed poultry killer. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the dog to produce the dog.

Any animal control officer who has reason to believe that any dog is killing livestock or poultry shall be empowered to seize such dog solely for the purpose of examining such dog in order to determine whether it committed any of the depredations mentioned herein. Any animal control officer or other person who has reason to believe that any dog is killing livestock, or committing any of the depredations mentioned in this section, shall apply to a magistrate serving the locality wherein the dog may be, who shall issue a warrant requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a time and place named therein, at which time evidence shall be heard. If it shall appear that the dog is a livestock killer, or has committed any of the depredations mentioned in this section, the district court shall order that the dog be: (i) killed immediately by the animal control officer or other officer designated by the court; or (ii) removed to another state that does not border on the Commonwealth and prohibited from returning to the Commonwealth. Any dog ordered removed from the Commonwealth that is later found in the Commonwealth shall be ordered by a court to be killed immediately.

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