A developer is cutting down an oak tree thought to be more than 200 years old today in Bluemont, prompting outcries from some neighbors.
The large, willow oak tree, on the 5600 block of 8th Road N., is on a 12,000-square-foot lot that WSD Homes is in the process of redeveloping. According to nearby residents, the homebuilding company is planning on building two $1.2 million houses on the property — where now sits an unoccupied house ready to be torn down.
A request for comment from WSD Homes has not been returned. The tree was more than 100 feet tall and more than 23 feet around at chest height, neighbors said. WSD Homes had originally said it would try to preserve it, but its director of sales, Jon Ferris, changed his mind after talking with neighbors, they said.
“Ferris stated that even if the tree could be saved, people who would buy a nice $1.2 million home would not want such a tree in their front yard,” Mark Haynes, who has been one of the leaders of the campaign to save the tree, told ARLnow.com in an email this morning. “A petition asking WSD and the County to attempt to save the tree has been circulated and has well over 100 signatures including many from local tree experts and neighbors.
“Last week, when local representatives of the Arlington Tree Stewards group and others requested a meeting at the site to discuss how the tree might be saved (with WSD still able to make a profit), Ferris stated that WSD would hurry to cut the tree down to stop the discussion.”
Workers from The Care of Trees were at the house today, chopping the tree down with chainsaws and woodchippers. Several truckloads of tree chippings had already been hauled off site, with the majority of the trunk still firmly in the ground. It’s unclear what, if anything, will be left of the tree when the work is completed.
“This magnificent Willow Oak is estimated to be 180 to 250 years old and predates the American Civil War by at least 50 years,” Haynes said. “Willow Oaks are one of the more long-lived (up to 400 years) and hearty of the oaks. This particular tree was, in the view of a number of experts, very healthy and had many, many years left in it.”
Arlington keeps registries of “Champion Trees” and “Notable Trees,” but the willow oak does not appear to be on either list. Trees that are listed as “Specimen Trees” or in a Resource Protected Area have some protections on them that prevent them from being cut down. The Willow tree has no protections, said Arlington Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“The County cannot stop a private landowner from taking down a tree on their property unless it is a Specimen Tree or in a Resource Protected Area and sadly this tree is neither,” Kalish said.
One of the residents who contacted ARLnow.com said it was the second-largest tree in the county, but ARLnow.com hasn’t been able to confirm its official height or how it compares to other trees in the county.
“To us, it was a magnificent tree no matter it’s ranking,” Kalish said.
Preservation Arlington notes that 115 of the 122 demolition permits applied for are for homes, 22 of which are located in National Register Historic Districts.
“The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” Preservation Arlington wrote in its mid-year report. “These buildings are often replaced with new construction that is out of scale and proportion to the community. Preservation Arlington urges citizens to adopt Local Historic District designations for their communities, with standards for design, height, and placement that could be customized to reflect community needs while still allowing reinvestment to occur.”
The number of demolition permits is well ahead of the record pace set in 2013, when 92 permits had been applied for in the same time period. Preservation Arlington said historic districts in Arlington are seeing one home targeted for demolition about every week.
Arlington County Planning Director Bob Duffy told ARLnow.com that the county is “watching the trend” of increased home demolition closely, but has no plans to recommend changing the Zoning Ordinance to stem the tide of house tear-downs.
“We’re watching it and tracking it as we always do,” Duffy said. “At this point, Arlington’s housing market is quite robust. The investment in our single family neighborhoods will continue and we’ll work with everyone to make sure our zoning regulations are in place.”
Duffy said there is no provision in the current zoning regulations to prevent multiple demolitions on the same block at the same time. He said the East Falls Church, Williamsburg and Cherrydale neighborhoods have seen the most demolition permits, and the vast majority of all the home tear-downs are north of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The roof of an East Falls Church house partially collapsed this afternoon (Friday), sending one construction worker to the hospital.
A construction crew was building an addition onto the back of a home on the 2400 block of N. Quantico Street when the roof of the addition collapsed, according to fire department personnel on the scene. The worker was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor injuries.
The residents of the house were not home when the roof collapsed, and the house, besides the addition, remains “structurally intact.” Inspectors were called to the scene to assess what caused the roof to cave in.
The Ballston-area house, a duplex on the 4200 block of Washington Blvd near Washington-Lee High School, was built between 1895 and 1910, according to county documents. Its owners have submitted a site plan proposal for two semi-detached townhouses to take its place.
The proposal calls for the building to be demolished and replaced with a 4,707-square-foot, 43-foot-tall brick structure. The home’s solid-paneled doors, metal gutters, downspouts and other interior and exterior elements will be preserved as part of the redevelopment, according to the proposal.
The proposal is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission and County Board no later than November, according to county documents.
A new green home, once the subject of a neighborhood controversy, is now up for sale.
The home at 2617 N. Nottingham Street, in the Leeway neighborhood, was built on a so-called pipestem lot — a parcel carved from the back of a larger lot, connected to the street only by a narrow “pipestem” driveway.
Plans for the home’s construction initially caused a neighborhood “uproar,” as reported by the Washington Post in February 2012. Existing residents strongly objected to the house being built behind their own homes. Ultimately, a compromise was reached following discussions between neighbors and home builder Arlington Designer Homes, and the controversy died down.
Now, with construction complete, Arlington Designer Homes is hosting an open house at 2617 N. Nottingham Street. The open house, for both prospective buyers and interested residents, is taking place on Sunday, April 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The home’s asking price is $1.1 million.
In a press release, the company touts the building as “one of the greenest houses in the county.” Its green features include a “living green roof and an advanced storm water management system.”
The new 3,100 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home, located at 2617 N. Nottingham St., is the first house built under Arlington County’s Use Permit process, established after the county changed its zoning ordinances for pipestem lots. The permit process included extensive collaboration among the builder, Arlington Designer Homes, county staff, neighbors and community members, and resulted in a green design that is truly one of a kind.
Responding to county and neighborhood priorities, Arlington Designer Homes committed to extensive storm water management techniques and practices. “Our new home showcases what in-fill construction of the future will look like,” said Andrew Moore, President of Arlington Designer Homes. “In fact, the lot will produce less storm water runoff post-construction than it did prior to development.”
“These storm water management techniques include multiple rain gardens, native plants and grasses, permeable pavers and a living green roof,” said Moore, a Certified Green Professional. “The Liveroof® system is a modular system where sedum plants that serve to absorb rain and protect the roof are grown in trays and then transported to the building site ready to go. The advantage to this system is that you can install a fully planted green roof in a day.”
The house also features an advanced insulation package including both cellulose and spray foam insulation, Energy Star Jeld-wen windows, a high-efficiency furnace with a heat pump, 1.28 gallon per flush toilets, pre-finished flooring and siding, and PVC trim for a low maintenance exterior. It will be certified under the Energy Star 3.0, Arlington County Green Home Choice, and Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified programs (expected).
Photos courtesy Arlington Designer Homes
A construction worker suffered critical injures after falling from the roof of a new home under construction in Arlington’s Riverwood neighborhood.
The incident happened just before 11:00 a.m., on the 3700 block of 27th Street N. The man, 34 years old and from Woodbridge, was working installing trusses on the roof of the new home when he lost his balance and fell three stories (30-35 feet) onto a patch of dirt, according to police.
The victim was semi-conscious when he was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to George Washington University hospital. His injuries are described as “critical.”
The family of the victim has been notified, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. State occupational safety officials were also notified. Police remained on scene to help investigate the accident.
Update on 12/3/12 — The man’s injuries “do not appear to be life threatening,” police say.
Given the potential for stringent new energy efficiency requirements for new and renovated homes in Arlington, you may be wondering what such a “green” house would look like.
The answer: something like this.
Local builder Arlington Designer Homes is showing off this custom-built house on North Underwood Street today, after it received Arlington’s first Gold-level Green Building Certification from the National Association of Home Builders.
According to the builder, this is only the sixth house in Virginia to receive Gold-level certification.
It’s 45 percent more energy efficient than a standard new home, thanks to a solar water heater, Energy Star appliances, and spray-in foam installation. It was built using environmentally-friendly construction techniques and is sealed from outside pollutants and allergens.
Family-owned Arlington Designer Homes says they’re now busy building two new green homes in Falls Church.