Westover Farmers Market Approved — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a use permit for the proposed Westover Farmers Market. The market will operate on Sundays starting on May 6. [Arlington County]
Complaints About Parking Meters at New Park — The Arlington Soccer Association has raised concerns about parking meters at the recently-opened Long Bridge Park. It’s expensive for parents and referees to park their cars in the Long Bridge Park lot, Arlington County Board members were told over the weekend. Board members asked county staff to study the impacts of allowing free parking on Saturdays. [Sun Gazette]
‘Earth Day Every Day’ in Arlington – Sunday might have been the nationally-recognized environmental awareness day known as Earth Day, but to the county government “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county touted some recent environmental initiatives, including obtaining LEED Silver certification for Fire Station No. 3, reducing county government electric and natural gas use by 3 percent, and work in progress to install 153 energy-efficient LED streetlights along Columbia Pike. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
The Arlington County Board is set to consider a proposal for a new farmers market in Westover Village at its Saturday meeting.
Organizers are asking the County Board to approve a market that will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays along the 1700 block of N. McKinley Road. The street location is temporary — organizers are hoping to eventually hold the market on the adjacent Walter Reed School property, but are still awaiting approval from Arlington Public Schools.
Taking vendor setup and breakdown times into account, the street will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. That has drawn criticism from the owners of some businesses in the Westover Shopping Center, since it will limit access to the shopping center’s driveway and parking lot. However, county staffers are recommending the open air market request be approved, stating that “the market should not have a substantial adverse impact on neighboring properties.”
As part of their application, market organizers agreed to encourage market patrons to park along Washington Boulevard and in the Reed School’s McKinley Road parking lot, instead of in the nearby residential neighborhoods.
Should the application be approved, organizers are hoping to kick off the farmers market’s inaugural season on May 6.
It’s been a contentious couple of weeks for the Westover Market and Beer Garden. Upon receiving a warning from Arlington County, it suddenly declared the beer garden would shut down until April 1. Today, the saga continues as management has decided to re-open the beer garden against the County’s wishes.
Owner Devin Hicks said he’s tried working with the county on the matter but his efforts have not been successful. Now he’s going to do what he believes Westover Market is entitled to do by law — operate a year-round patio area.
Bob Brosnan, Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, clarifies that Hicks did not receive an actual citation — as stated in a previous article — but rather a courtesy letter requesting compliance. A violation notice will likely be sent out on Monday and Westover Market will have 10 days to bring itself in compliance, or face fines, Brosnan said.
The goal is not to hinder businesses or to collect fines, it’s to keep businesses in compliance with county ordinances, according to Brosnan.
“We’ve been trying to work with them to make them understand how we can work with them legally, that is our goal,” he said. “Our goal in these cases is always compliance.”
Arlington County has developed a web page specifically relating to the beer garden at Westover Market. On the page, it states that establishments with outdoor patios must have ample parking for the number of people being served, but that parking requirement is reduced if the establishment is near a Metro stop. The County allows establishments to get around the parking rule by becoming “seasonal” and closing for three or more months each year.
Because the Westover beer garden isn’t deemed as having enough parking, it’s supposed to be seasonal. However, Hicks points out the rule is technically a “guideline” and not an actual “ordinance.” He believes the county has been enforcing a measure that was never officially put in the books.
The County’s web page for Westover Market links to another County page, titled “Guidelines for Outdoor Cafes.” On that document it states: “Unless otherwise required by the County Board, outdoor cafes shall be exempt from any parking requirement.” It goes on to say: “There is no explicit requirement in the Zoning Ordinance that requires them to be temporary or seasonal.”
Of his long-running trouble with the county, Hicks said relations have improved over the past year or so, but he believes he’s currently being unfairly targeted with the enforcement of the seasonal rule.
“We’re just going to go ahead and do what’s legally right,” Hicks said. “There’s nothing in the rules that says it has to be seasonal.”
If you were hoping to enjoy the nice weather with a beer outside at the Westover Beer Garden, you’re in for a disappointment. Westover Market and Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) owner Devin Hicks says the beer garden has been shut down until April 1 due to county zoning rules.
Arlington County requires that certain outdoor cafes, like the beer garden, be closed for three months of the year due to the seasonal nature of the business. Hicks says he wasn’t serving beer outside, but was allowing customers to bring their beers to the garden (which has a fire pit) from his indoor bar area. That, he says, earned him a
citation warning letter from the county.
Until it reopens on April 1, the beer garden will be off-limits to customers. Hicks says he’s disappointed with the county’s strict enforcement.
“You would think they’d be on our side but apparently they’re doing everything to make our business less successful and less available to the community,” Hicks told ARLnow.com. “They’re not being business friendly. I don’t know why they keep picking on us.”
When it does reopen, however, music will finally return to the beer garden.
Under a compromise reached between Hicks, neighbors and the County Board, music will be allowed at the beer garden on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. In April and May, only non-amplified music will be allowed. From June 1 to Oct 31, amplified music will be allowed on Saturdays.
Hicks says he’s in the process of booking bands now.
“It’s going to be a ton of fun for everybody, obviously everybody’s been waiting a long time for it,” he said.
Update at 11:40 a.m. on 2/24/12 — Via Facebook, the Westover Market says they will open the beer garden tonight (Friday) in defiance of the county’s orders:
“We tried to cooperate and follow the county’s imaginary rule about outdoor patios required to be seasonal; we took out the tables, chairs, tvs, bar. That apparently wasn’t enough. The county wanted to cripple our business even more so they told us to take out the stumps, turn off the lights, and not allow patrons to go outside. Enough is enough. WBG & Haus in Full Force open 11am-1:30am.”
Bill Would Open Classrooms to Parents — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has proposed a bill that would require local school boards to “ensure that the parent or legal guardian of a student or prospective student enrolled in the school division may, subject to reasonable notice and with minimized disruption, act as an observer in the child’s classroom.” The bill is in response to a Washington Post column about a couple whose request to observe a class at Arlington Traditional School was denied by school officials. [Washington Post]
Lyon Hall Named ‘Best Beer Bar’ — Lyon Hall (3100 N Washington Blvd) has been named one of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars by Draft Magazine. “Its bartenders have a passion for of-the-moment beer, and no one will care if you drink your 21st Amendment Back in Black straight from the can,” the publication said. [Draft Magazine]
Board Wants Speedier Farmers Market Permit Process — The County Board asked Arlington County staff to speed up the permit approval process for the planned Westover Farmers Market. Organizers — who would like to open the market in May — have said that the permitting process has been proceeding at a slower-than-hoped-for pace. [Sun Gazette]
The proposed Westover Farmers Market is getting closer to becoming a reality.
A group of local volunteers has incorporated a nonprofit company to run the farmers market, and have applied for recognition as a charitable organization from the IRS. The nonprofit is currently seeking donations and vetting applications from farmers market vendors.
Meanwhile, organizers say they hope to hold the first farmers market in May, on the grounds of the Westover Branch Library and Reed School on N. McKinley Road. The start date could potentially be held up, however, by the arduous process of applying for county permits and permissions.
“The County recently changed the application process for open-air markets to one requiring issuance of a use permit by the County Board,” farmers market organizer Robert Swennes noted in an email. “The details of implementing that change are still being worked out, and that is creating more delay for us than a well-established approval process would. Also, the site selected for the market is property owned by the Arlington County Public Schools, so permission from ACPS must also be obtained.”
When it finally does clear all regulatory hurdles, the market will operate from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
“Many people within County government and generally in Arlington have expressed their support for a farmers market in the Westover area, so we are confident that one will be launched this year,” Swennes noted. “The question is how soon that can be done.”
Photo via Arlington Green Party
The shop — which offered gourmet cuts of locally-sourced meats — closed last week after butcher shop proprietor Bruce Saunders decided to call it quits. Now, we’re told, the shop is coming back with many of the same meat options, but under new management.
The Westover Market Facebook page says the shop will be offering a $16.99 special tonight on two cuts of beef and two sides, in celebration of the re-opening.
We were unable to reach anybody at Westover Market today to formally confirm the news, despite multiple calls to the store’s listed phone number.
Photo via Facebook
To the dismay of its loyal customers, the butcher shop at Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd) will be closing this week.
Via an early-morning announcement on Facebook, butcher shop proprietor Bruce Saunders said that he had made the difficult decision to close up shop.
After much thought and soul searching, I’m sorry to inform everyone that as of this week, the Butcher Shop at Westover Market will be closing. Cody and I extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our friends and neighbors in and around Arlington for your support and patronage over the past year and a half. It’s been great to serve you and to have supported our local farmers and their families. Please continue to support these fine farm families and the hard work they do. See ya around town!
Since it launched in 2010, the Saunders-run butcher counter at Westover Market has specialized in premium, locally-sourced meats.
Hat tip to EatMore DrinkMore
A car rammed into the Grand Hunan Chinese Carry-Out restaurant in the Westover Shopping Center last night.
The accident happened around 7:45 p.m. The car hopped a curb and slammed into a low brick wall, coming to rest across the sidewalk. Amazingly, no one was hurt.
The brick wall was damaged, but there was only minor damage inside the restaurant.
Photo (top) courtesy Anne W.
The Shirlington Branch Library will be screening family-oriented movies all summer, starting this week. At 2:00 p.m., every Friday through the end of August, the library will show a different kid-friendly flick. The selections include Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Sword in the Stone, Cars, Shrek Forever After, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland (1951 version) and The Tale of Despereaux.
For adults, the Westover Branch Library will be taking moviegoers on a cinematic tour of the world. The library will screen the “mid-week movies” every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., starting on July 6 and ending on August 10. The schedule includes Chariots of Fire, Motorcycle Diaries, Out of Africa, the Joy Luck Club, Under the Tuscan Sun and Enchanted April.
Westover will also be screening three family movies this summer: Princess and the Frog, Ponyo and Ratatouille. See the library blog for dates and times.
County staff is recommending that the County Board approve AT&T’s request to put new cell phone antennas in a pair of North Arlington church steeples.
Last month the company went before the board to request permission to replace older antennas and equipment at 15 existing cell sites around the county. The equipment will allow AT&T to offer high speed ‘Long Term Evolution’ (LTE) data service to cell phone customers in Arlington. The board approved the replacement at 13 of the sites, but withdrew two for further consideration after a number of neighbors voiced opposition.
The two sites in question are both churches: the Westover Baptist Church (1125 Patrick Henry Drive) and Walker Chapel United Methodist Church (4102 N. Old Glebe Road). AT&T already has cell phone antennas in the steeples of both churches, but neighbors objected to what they saw as the possible health risks of the new antennas. Those opposing antennas at Walker Chapel also cited the historic nature of the 140-year-old church, even though the building itself is just over 50 years old.
Ultimately, county staff sided with AT&T, which argued that the new antennas will not be substantially heavier than the existing antennas — thus posing no anticipated structural problems — and will remain compliant with FCC regulations regarding radio frequency exposure.
“AT&T will contribute less than five percent of the maximum permissible exposure allowed,” staff wrote in the board report. The company agreed to annual, independent electromagnetic emission tests at all 15 sites to ensure compliance.
Last week’s revelation that the World Health Organization now considers cell phone use to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” however, will likely only serve to increase the resolve of antenna opponents. Even if the County Board wanted to decide the matter on the basis of health concerns, however, it is legally prohibited from doing so. According to the board report, federal law “prohibits localities from basing decisions on the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if the facility complies with FCC regulations.”
The board is scheduled to consider the cell antenna requests on Saturday.
There will be concerts at Westover Market’s beer garden (5863 Washington Boulevard) this summer, after all, thanks to a unanimous vote by the County Board to approve a rare outdoor live entertainment permit — with some strict conditions.
Westover Market manager Devin Hicks has agreed to abide by 14 conditions, which were laid out by county staff in response to the concerns of residents who own homes near the beer garden. (Initially, staff recommended against the permit, but were instructed by the Board to come up with conditions more acceptable to concerned neighbors.)
The conditions include:
- Live entertainment will take place only on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., on Fridays from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
- Music will be acoustic only — no amplifiers allowed, at least initially (see below)
- The decibel level from the performances will not exceed 60 decibels before 9:00 p.m. and 55 decibels after 9:00 p.m. — which is consistent with the county’s residential noise control ordinance
- Maximum capacity at the beer garden during live events will be 98
- Performers will face Washington Boulevard, not the residential neighborhood behind the beer garden
- Patrons and performers will be prohibited from dancing, unless the Market applies for and obtains a Dance Hall Permit
- Westover Market will designate a “neighborhood liaison” to handle noise complaints
- The Market will hire an acoustical expert to develop a “sound management plan”
- The performances will be subject to random compliance checks by county staff
- Live entertainment will only be performed between April 1 and October 31
As a show of good faith, Hicks also agreed to not use “piped in” or recorded music (e.g., a radio) in the beer garden on nights when there’s no live music, even though he would be permitted by right to do so. He will also voluntarily set up a live web cam that will display a decibel meter for residents to review.
The conditional live entertainment permit will be reviewed by staff in September. At that time, if the county determines that “the owner has complied with all conditions… to that point,” the beer garden may be granted approval for amplified music. The permit will come up for County Board review in February 2012.
“The Board is striving for a balance here that will both allow limited live entertainment outdoors at this neighborhood restaurant and protect the surrounding neighborhood,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “In the coming months, we will be monitoring the situation carefully.”
Westover Decision Delayed Until Tuesday — The County Board voted on Saturday to delay a decision on live entertainment for the Westover Market’s beer garden until Tuesday, giving county staff three days to come up with permit conditions that would be more acceptable to concerned neighbors. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Police Seek Tips in 1997 Cold Case – ACPD’s cold case unit is asking for the public’s help in solving the case of 17-year-old Vu Huynh, who was murdered outside Hi-Cue Billiards on Columbia Pike in March 1997. [Washington Examiner]
Arlington to Issue Bonds — The County Board has approved the sale of up to $207 million in bonds, to fund projects like the Arlington Mill Community Center, Long Bridge Park, the new Yorktown and Wakefield high schools and the Water Pollution Control Plant. The bonds will go on sale next month, and will be available to individual investors. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
Update at 2:10 p.m. on 5/14/11 — The County Board has put off final action on the Westover Beer Garden until Tuesday. It appears that the board is leaning toward approving some sort of live entertainment permit with additional restrictions.
Below are letters from the presidents of four civic associations in favor of a compromise that would allow the Westover Market’s popular beer garden to host live entertainment three days per week. The proposal is up for a vote by the County Board on Saturday.
County staffers are recommending against granting a live entertainment permit for the beer garden.
Dear Members of the County Board,
I am writing to you as the president of the Westover Village Civic Association. In the past few months, we have had several community meetings to discuss the Westover Beer Garden, allowing residents to voice their opinions about the garden and to seek common ground in addressing issues associated with it. During the last week of April, the civic association conducted a vote to determine community feelings. The residents of our civic association overwhelmingly voted to support the beer garden and its live music permit on the condition that it make a good faith effort to minimize noise disturbances to the immediate neighbors.
For most people in Westover and the neighboring civic associations, the Beer Garden is a treasured part of Westover life. It is an anchor for the community where neighbors young and old frequently gather on warm evenings to share a meal and listen to live music. Along with the new Westover Branch Library and Reed School, the beer garden has helped to strengthen a sense of community belonging and spur civic spirit. The garden has also revived the fortunes of the Westover Market, which faces stiff competition from the nearby Safeway and Harris Teeter without the niche advantage that the beer garden provides. The owners of the garden argue that live music brings in many customers and helps keep the business going.
The main problem with the garden is the noise that it has created in the past, disturbing the immediate neighbors who live directly behind it. These neighbors raise valid concerns that deserve to be addressed. Accordingly, it would be sensible to put a series of conditions on the beer garden live music permit. Based on the civic association vote, the majority of residents support limiting live music to 6 to 8 pm on Wednesdays and 6-10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights as a reasonable compromise. The sound levels should stay within existing county requirements. In order to enforce these conditions, the Beer Garden owners have committed themselves to investigate technical means to measure the sound at the fence of the nearest neighbor and record these measurements over time with data possibly posted to the Internet as a way of ensuring that the Beer Garden operates within legal limits.
Out of 109 valid votes from residents in the Westover Village Civic Association area, 90 voted to support the above recommendations; 13 supported fewer hours of operation for the live music; and 6 were opposed to granting this permit. I hope that you will take this input into account as you prepare to vote on the live music permit at your May 14 meeting.
Westover Village Civic Association President
More letters, after the jump.
(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) County staffers are recommending against Westover Market’s application for live entertainment at its popular outdoor beer garden.
The County Board is set to vote on the permit application at its meeting on Saturday. The permit would allow the beer garden to host concerts, open mic nights and other forms of live entertainment.
The presidents of four surrounding civic associations have all written letters to the County Board in favor of live entertainment at the beer garden. The leaders said their associations voted overwhelmingly in favor of a compromise plan between Westover Market and neighbors.
The compromise would allow the beer garden to host live entertainment from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, plus open mic nights from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, provided that the Market keeps the sound at decibel levels consistent with the county noise ordinance. The Market has also agreed to only host outdoor entertainment from April 1 to October 31, according to the staff report.
Nonetheless, some neighbors have remained steadfastly opposed to the beer garden and the noise and crowds it generates. Here’s the summary of the county staff recommendation against the permit:
The applicant is proposing a use permit for outdoor live entertainment in association with a restaurant at the Westover Market, located in the Westover Shopping Center. The applicant requests approval for live entertainment in the Market’s outdoor café, popularly known as the “Beer Garden”. The existence of the Beer Garden itself would not be affected by this decision, only whether live entertainment is permitted in that Beer Garden. Staff’s practice has been to not permit outdoor live entertainment due to the negative effects such use would have on the surrounding area and land use conflicts. The proposed use is located in a low-density area in close proximity to single-family dwellings. Several immediate neighbors have raised concerns over the noise generated by past (and unapproved) live entertainment in the outdoor café Beer Garden. Approving the subject use would likely lead to future requests from restaurants and nightclubs throughout the County for outdoor live entertainment, including the increasingly popular rooftop bars , allowing more intense uses with substantial adverse effects on surrounding residential properties.
Staff does not support the request for several reasons: The outdoor café’s close proximity to single-family residences (residential back yards abut the shopping center parking lot), and the low-density and low-activity character of the Westover Shopping Center area and the “C-1” Zoning District in general; practical difficulties in the enforcement of live entertainment conditions and noise and capacity regulations which largely rely on self-enforcement, and the present applicant’s past history of noncompliance with County ordinances and regulations. Furthermore, only once before has the County Board approved a request for outdoor live entertainment (SoBe in Clarendon, located in a “C-O” zoning district); that was termed an “experiment” and was approved only with the justification that the location was a high-density commercial area far away from residential uses. Therefore, staff recommends denial of the use permit request for a restaurant with live entertainment.
The permit does not address the legality of the beer garden itself.