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Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Today we published 6 articles that were read a total of 7916 times… so far.

📈 Top stories

The following are the most-read articles for today — Dec 8, 2022.

  1. JUST IN: Woman groped, pulled to ground in Lyon Park
  2. Most and least expensive condos sold in Arlington (Nov-Dec 2022)
  3. Two announce candidacy in upcoming races as Ingrid Morroy announces retirement

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Friday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

☔ Friday’s forecast

Clear throughout the day. High of 49 and low of 33. Sunrise at 7:17 am and sunset at 4:48 pm. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Thought of the Day

Trust your intuition, but remember that data-driven decision making can often lead to better outcomes.

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

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Plans to redevelop a local YMCA may have too many apartment units and not enough community benefits, county planners say.

The YMCA is proposing to tear down its existing facility on N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square and build an 87,850-square-foot facility with indoor swimming pools, pickleball and tennis courts, a fitness space and a conference and lounge area, as well as 203 parking spaces. To finance the project, the nonprofit is building a separate 7-story, 374-unit apartment building.

County planners say the baseline for this project is around 270 units and that the YMCA it needs to provide more community benefits to build beyond that.

The reason for the 104-unit gulf is a disagreement over whether the gross floor area of the recreation facility should be excluded from the overall project area. This number determines, for instance, the size of a developer’s affordable housing contribution, either in cash or in on-site units.

The nonprofit’s attorney, David Tarter, says it is financially necessary to exclude the entire facility from density calculations and cites the “best in class” facility as a community benefit to be included in the benefits package.

“This full exclusion is necessary to provide the YMCA the resources needed to construct the proposed YMCA facility,” Tarter writes in the nonprofit’s site plan application.

On its website, the nonprofit says the new building “will serve an estimated 11,415 children, adults and seniors annually, creating 108 new permanent living wage positions and 175 construction jobs.”

Other benefits include three open spaces totaling about an acre and an east-west pedestrian and bicycle connection through the site.

County planner Michael Cullen says past precedent for site plans and ordinances support including the building’s square-footage in density calculations. He said in a presentation these extra 104 units “must be earned through a comprehensive community benefits package” that goes beyond earning LEED Gold certification in exchange for more units.

He says the nonprofit will also have to do more for affordable housing to obtain approval to build apartments in the first place. In the Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road Special GLUP Study governing the site, the land is zoned for commercial use.

The county developed the plan, with community input, to guide the YMCA development and two other projects on the same block.

That includes Terwilliger Place, which Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing completed this September on the American Legion site, and a 270-unit apartment building dubbed Modera Kirkwood, on which Mill Creek Residential broke ground in December 2020. The latter could be completed next year.

Projects in this situation “have generally been expected to achieve greater achievements in accordance with the affordable housing master plan,” Cullen said.

Arlington Dept. of Community Housing, Planning and Development spokeswoman Erika Moore says the county is discussing with the applicant ways to offset the 104 units with more sustainability and affordable housing commitments. Potential approaches will be discussed at a Site Plan Review Committee meeting, a date for which has not yet been set.

The public review process has just kicked off for the project. An online feedback opportunity, which opened on Tuesday, will run through Monday, Dec. 19.

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Join us December 10 & 11 for our Annual Handmade Holiday Workshop Series. We have a myriad of fun and festive programs from linoleum block wrapping paper printing and buttonhole book making workshops led by Eliza Clifford to a meditative grid workshop and Calligraphy Card Making with Anjelika Deogirikar. Join these wonderful artists and get creative this holiday season!

Submit your own Announcement here.

This past week saw 37 homes sold in Arlington.

The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $175,000 while the most expensive was $2,882,580.

Over the past month, meanwhile, a total of 94 condos were sold. Let’s take a look at some of the most and least expensive condos sold over the past month.

Most expensive condos sold

  1. 1781 N. Pierce Street #1101 — 3 BD/2.5 BA — $2,374,500
  2. 2801 Langston Boulevard #303 — 3 BD/2.0 BA — $1,290,000
  3. 1700 Clarendon Boulevard #131 — 2 BD/2.5 BA — $1,250,000
  4. 2109 N. Rolfe Street #D — 4 BD/2.5 BA — $769,900
  5. 1300 Crystal Drive #PH13S — 2 BD/2.5 BA — $750,000

Least expensive condos sold

  1. 4600 S. Four Mile Run Drive #1029 — 1 BD/1.0 BA — $145,000
  2. 750 S. Dickerson Street #413 — 1 BD/1.0 BA — $165,000
  3. 1011 Arlington Boulevard #629 — 1 BD/1.0 BA — $175,000

The local market generally has more condos for sale compared to other housing types. There are currently 328 condos for sale, according to Homesnap.

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National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

File photo

A woman was groped, followed and pulled to the ground by an unknown suspect in the Lyon Park area, police say.

The incident happened last night (Wednesday) around 5:30 p.m.

The suspect initially grabbed the victim’s buttocks as she was walking along the Arlington Blvd trail at 10th Street N., not far from Courthouse, according to Arlington County police.

He then re-approached on the 2500 block of N. Pershing Drive and pulled her to the ground by the shoulders, but ran off when she screamed, police said.

From an ACPD crime report today:

SEXUAL BATTERY (Late), 2022-12070193, Arlington Boulevard trail at 10th Street N. exit ramp. At approximately 7:32 p.m. on December 7, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined approximately two hours prior, the victim was waiting at a crosswalk when the unknown male suspect approached her from behind and touched her buttocks before fleeing the area on foot. The victim continued traveling and was in the 2500 block of N. Pershing Drive when the suspect reapproached her from behind and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, causing her to fall to the ground. The victim yelled and the suspect fled the area on foot. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require medical attention. Responding officers canvassed the area for the suspect yielding negative results. The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 20-30 years old, 5’8-5’10, medium build, wearing a black hoodie and black pants. The investigation is ongoing.

The suspect description is a bit different than that of a man who groped a woman in Courthouse last week, though the victim in that case wrote that she “didn’t get a good look at the guy.” Both suspects were reported to have been wearing a black hoodie and black pants, according to police.

“Both incidents remain under investigation and detectives will work to determine if they are linked,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Falls Church, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.

We hope that all of our readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

In our last legal post before Thanksgiving, we discussed how federal litigation can help applicants get their languishing cases unstuck at USCIS or the Department of State. We recently got news that there may be a major class action lawsuit headed for USCIS’ desk.

A group called IMMpact Litigation is currently seeking plaintiffs who have had their Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, pending before USCIS for more than six months. The plan is for IMMpact Litigation, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the American Immigration Council to work together to file a class action lawsuit against USCIS for the unreasonable delay in processing I-601A cases.

First, some important background information. The Form I-601A is widely used and is important application for many immigrants.  This application is used for noncitizens who are currently in the United States who will later leave to seek an immigrant visa (green card) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Normally, if someone has been in the United States 180 days and up to one year without a lawful immigration status, the departure would trigger a three-year bar to returning the United States. A departure after one year or more without lawful status triggers a ten-year bar to returning.

Congress largely considered family unity as a priority when drafting our immigration laws. The U.S. immigration authorities recognized that it would provide much more security for visa applicants currently in the United States to seek this waiver before departing for their visa interviews. That way, the applicant and their family members would be apart for much less time while the applicant travels for his or her interview abroad.

A couple of interesting things about this particular waiver: First, it is a discretionary benefit only available to applicants who can prove that their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if they were forced to live apart or relocate to the applicant’s home country.

Note that having U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children does not allow a noncitizen to qualify for this waiver. Second, unlike many other immigration processes, this one does not allow the applicant to request any interim benefits like work authorization while waiting for a decision.

So why are these immigration organizations thinking about suing? In the past couple of years, the processing times have ballooned.  Only two USCIS service centers process these applications: the Nebraska Service Center and the Potomac Service Center — the latter, right here in Arlington, Virginia.

Cases are taking an average of 28 months at the Nebraska Service Center. At the Potomac Service Center, the average case is taking 37 months. (37 months ago, the COVID outbreak was restricted to Hubei and Wuhan, and no one here took the possibility of a pandemic seriously. 37 months is a long time!)

After more than three years of waiting, the imagination starts to wander.

These horrendously long delays just keep getting longer, which causes more uncertainty to the families affected. Plus, the longer it takes, the longer the applicant doesn’t have a green card or any other interim benefit, which may be negatively impacting their families. Many applicants, including some of our own clients, are furious about these long processing times. Doran is especially excited because she has been handling I-601A cases her entire career.

Therefore, the idea is to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of essentially all applicants who have been waiting more than six months for a decision. Why a class action lawsuit? Because there are so many people affected that it would be absurd for each and every person to file their own individual lawsuits. A class action would, in theory, benefit anyone who fits into the class, or the specific, delineated group, as defined in the lawsuit.

An important note: if you or someone you know may qualify as a plaintiff, the deadline to register as a potential plaintiff is TOMORROW, Friday, December 9. Anyone who is interested should review IMMpact Immigration’s webpage on this topic.

We hope that this litigation moves forward and is successful in helping these applicants get out of immigration limbo. As always, we appreciate questions and will do our best to respond!

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Rabbi Mordechai Newman lights the menorah at Chanukah on Ice 2012 at Pentagon Row (file photo)

Arlington is set to celebrate the festival of lights with two menorah lightings later this month.

Hanukkah begins the night of Dec. 18 this year, but the menorah is going to be lit a bit early this year in Pentagon City.

The annual “Chanukah on Ice” event at the Pentagon Row ice skating rink is set for Thursday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Organized by the Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington, the evening will feature skating, hot latkes, kosher hot dogs, a raffle, and the lighting of a six-foot menorah.

This family-friendly celebration will also include ice skating, latkes, kosher hot dogs, a raffle, and the lighting of a six-foot menorah for the fifth night of Hanukkah. It will take place from 6-8 p.m.

In case of heavy rain, the rink will be closed.

This fire and ice event has been going on for at least a decade and, often, local officials show up to help light the menorah.

Another Hanukkah celebration is planned a few days later in Clarendon.

Light Up Arlington” is set for Tuesday, Dec. 20, the third night of Hanukkah, at 1307 N. Highland Street. This event is also being hosted by Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington and being held outside, in front of its community center.

There will be latkes, donuts, chocolate gelt, dreidels, hot cocoa, the lighting of a nine-foot menorah, and “lively” Hanukkah music. It begins at 6 p.m.

This event is free, but there’s limited capacity.

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In February of this year, a hoax call about an armed suspect inside Yorktown High School holding hostages triggered a lockdown, evacuations and a massive police response.

That incident is now informing one of Arlington’s legislative priorities for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session. The Arlington County Board and School Board are calling for a law that specifically names and criminalizes false calls to police, describing a life-threatening situation, with the intent to trigger a police response. It is widely known as “swatting” because of the SWAT teams it sometimes elicits.

Swatting is on the rise in Arlington County, according to Lt. Matt Martin of the Arlington County Police Department. There have been four instances in 2022 so far, up from two in 2021 and one incident per year from 2018 through 2020. (Martin says because there is no swatting category in crime statistics, these numbers were pulled manually based on case facts and may not be comprehensive.)

In nearby Fairfax County, there were 11 such incidents in 2020 and 30 in 2021, a police spokesperson previously told our sister site, FFXnow. There were four such incidents in Alexandria this year.

“Swatting has been on law enforcement radar for 15 years,” says Martin. “The intent is to send officers to a call where someone’s life is at risk, which ups the ante, and ups our response.”

It started in the online gaming community, when people would call the police on their target in response to a slight or unpaid bet, Martin says. It has since become a nationwide problem, one where even identifying those behind the incidents can be tricky, says ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

“The person that calls in could realistically call in anywhere in the world, which leads to a challenge for identifying them,” she said.

In September, hoax calls triggered a police response at Washington-Liberty High School and several other schools across the state, including in Loudoun and Fauquier counties. W-L was previously evacuated in October 2021 after a false report of an active shooter.

A 19-year-old man from Vienna was sentenced last year for his roles in numerous swatting attacks that targeted journalists, the Old Dominion University in Norfolk and Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, which has a predominantly Black congregation.

Swatting not only applies to pranksters calling the police, but also to people who call others — schools, for instance — and describe a threat that prompts them to call 911. But Virginia law only criminalizes making a false report, which means people who spread false information but don’t make the call can’t be charged with a crime.

That is what police and elected officials would like to see changed.

“Any law that’s going to prohibit a behavior needs to define the behavior,” Martin said. “The detective who investigated [the Yorktown incident] came to me and said, ‘We looked at potential charges. Making an indirect call doesn’t violate Virginia law… It was that detective who recognized that gap in the law that started all of this.”

Read More

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Candidates are starting to emerge in the races to replace two retiring, long-time local elected officials.

Last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting featured candidate announcements from Jose Quiroz, who is running for Arlington County Sheriff, and Kim Klingler, who is running for Commissioner of Revenue.

Quiroz, a 21-year veteran of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office who would be the county’s first Latino sheriff, has the endorsement of retiring sheriff Beth Arthur.

More from a press release:

Tonight, Jose Quiroz announced his candidacy to be the Democratic nominee for Arlington County Sheriff before the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Jose has served the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office for over 21 years, rising through the ranks of the office and gaining experience in virtually every division.

“As Sheriff, I am committed to running a safe and progressive jail focused on rehabilitation and refocusing lives.” said Jose, “As part of this commitment I will explore eliminating phone and video call fees from the jail so that people in jail are able to maintain contact with their friends and family, which will make it easier for them to rejoin the community after incarceration.”

Additionally, current Sheriff Beth Arthur announced her early retirement this evening. As Chief Deputy, Jose will succeed Sheriff Arthur in January 2023. “I am incredibly thankful to have the support of Sheriff Arthur, a true leader and trailblazer as the first female Sheriff in Arlington County. I wish her well in her retirement after nearly 36 years with the office.”

On assuming the office, Jose will be the first Latino Sheriff in Arlington County. More about his platform and experience can be found at his campaign website: joseforsheriff.us

In Arlington County, the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for running the jail, providing courtroom security, transporting prisoners, serving summonses and assisting with traffic enforcement.

Also announcing a run for public office last night was Kim Klingler, a local civic figure who currently runs the Columbia Pike Partnership. Klingler is running for Commissioner of Revenue — the elected head of the local tax collection office — and would replace Ingrid Morroy.

Morroy, who first took office in 2004, announced her retirement and endorsed Klingler, according to a press release from the Columbia Pike Partnership.

Last night during the Arlington Democrats monthly meeting, Ingrid Morroy announced her retirement as Commissioner of Revenue for Arlington County and endorsed Kim Klingler, Columbia Pike Partnership Executive Director as her successor.

The Columbia Pike Partnership supports Kim’s decision to run for Commissioner of Revenue. “We’re excited about this opportunity for Kim. During the campaign and months ahead, Kim, the staff, and the board will remain focused on our mission and work in the community,” says Columbia Pike Partnership Board Chair Shannon Bailey.

The Columbia Pike Partnership does not endorse any political candidate in the 2023 election.

Klingler has twice unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for County Board, in 2012 and 2017.

Morroy and Arthur have both been relatively popular in their respective roles, re-elected with more than 95% of vote in 2019 after running unopposed.

More recently, Arthur has faced scrutiny after a series of deaths at the jail, primarily among Black men. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Arthur and the Sheriff’s Office earlier this year by the family of one of the men who died. The jail has since updated some of its medical protocols.

More candidate announcements are expected in the coming weeks and months. Two County Board seats will be on next year’s ballot and at least one will be open, with County Board Chair Katie Cristol not seeking reelection.

“We’ll have a lot more candidates announcing,” Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Steve Baker told the Sun Gazette. “Next year will be a busy year.”

Next year’s Democratic primary will be held in June and will feature a ranked-choice voting system.

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With holiday season around the corner, it is easy to put your health on the back burner. If you are looking to get back on track during the holiday season, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.

If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home/apartment gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s gets started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience: https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact

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