The County Board has given the green light for a year-long process that will suggest changes to the existing development plan for the Rosslyn area.
The last time the County approved significant changes to its Rosslyn Sector Plan was 1992. Now, nearly 20 years later, officials say changes are necessary to help with Rosslyn’s continued development from a mere “collection of office buildings” to “a more balanced neighborhood, offering residents and visitors shopping, recreation and cultural activities.”
The new Rosslyn planning effort will focus on improving transportation options, suggesting changes to Rosslyn’s building height regulations and developing “a more cohesive, functional parks and open space network.” The process will include numerous community input opportunities, facilitated by a dedicated “civic engagement professional” on the planning team.
The planning process comes at a time of major change for Rosslyn. The expansive cultural center known as Artisphere opened last year, a major overhaul is coming to Gateway Park, and construction is either currently underway or imminent on three new skyscrapers, two large residential complexes, a luxury condo building and a new office building.
The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the new planning effort, which will present its recommendations to the board in 2012. Board member Walter Tejada was the lone ‘no’ vote. Tejada advocated for a longer, more comprehensive planning process with additional public input.
On Thursday night Arlington County held a small business ‘listening session’ at Clarendon Ballroom. More than 50 business owners showed up to tell county staff what they like and don’t like about how the county treats small businesses.
The event was part of County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman’s year-long push to make Arlington more small-business-friendly. Zimmerman gave the opening and closing remarks at the event, but it was county planning and economic development staff who led the group discussions that were the evening’s main substance.
Among the things business owners liked about doing business in Arlington were the friendly personal interactions with county employees, the frequent county programs that teach you how to create a business plan, and the relative ease of running a home-based business. As expected, however, complaints far out-numbered compliments.
There was discussion of the advantages larger businesses have over smaller businesses when trying to navigate the county’s regulations and talk of loosening regulations preventing small businesses from participating in certain citizen-oriented programs. By and large, however, the discussion focused on three areas: clarity and accessibility of information, taxes and fees, and the county’s controversial sign ordinance.
The residential portion of Foxcroft Heights only encompasses three one-block streets, but some big changes may be coming to the tiny South Arlington community.
On Saturday afternoon, county staff and urban planning consultants will meet with residents to discuss some of those possible changes. The meeting is being billed as a “mini-charrette” — a hands-on brainstorming session, of sorts.
“Participants will work in small groups with members of the planning team to draw ideas for the future of the neighborhood,” says a flyer distributed to Foxcroft’s 400+ residents. “Ideas could include desired enhancements to transportation networks or open spaces, and potential for building revitalization or redevelopment.”
Foxcroft Heights is perhaps best known for being the home of the Air Force Memorial. Its residential community is surrounded by Columbia Pike to the south, the Henderson Hall to the North, the Sheraton National Hotel to the west and the Navy Annex to the east. Within its confines are 95 homes, two 16-unit apartment buildings and a small park. Along Columbia Pike are a couple of small businesses including Dama Diner, Ruth’s Beauty Shop and an auto repair store, as well as a Virginia Department of Transportation facility and a half-way home.
According to a 2009 planning document that has almost as many pages as Foxcroft Heights has buildings, homeowners have been approached by commercial developers about “various options for the neighborhood.”
Another big change that’s underway is the closure of the Navy Annex. The building is set to be shuttered and torn down, perhaps by the end of next year. The military is planning on using most of the freed-up land to expand Arlington National Cemetery. About four acres will be given to the county for construction of a Freedman’s Village heritage museum.
DCA Tower AWOL as Planes Land – Two airline pilots landing at Reagan National Airport were unable to make contact with the lone air traffic controller on duty in the tower early Wednesday. The FAA is now investigating what caused the tower to go silent for nearly half an hour. Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has ordered a second air traffic controller to start working the overnight shift at DCA. [Washington Post]
School Board Opposed Strict Misconduct Guidelines – Should teachers be forbidden from sending text messages to students? What about becoming Facebook friends? Those are two questions the Arlington County School Board may have to answer if the Virginia School Board approves a set of sexual misconduct guidelines today. Last month School Board Chair Libby Garvey wrote the Virginia Dept. of Eduction to oppose a stricter, more prescriptive set of guidelines. [Arlington Connection]
Meade Street Bridge Redesign Options Discussed — Earlier this week Arlington County staff members sat down with residents to discuss options for improving safety on the Meade Street Bridge, which connects the area near the Iwo Jima memorial to Lynn Street and Rosslyn. Among the options being considered are narrowing vehicle lanes, widening the pedestrian sidewalk and adding decorative “luminous bodies” to the side of the bridge. [Ode Street Tribune]