Arlington, VA

Two area civic associations are weighing in on the potential for ‘big box’ retail development on the industrial areas near Shirlington.

Last week the County Board voted to advertise a change in its zoning rules that would require planned commercial buildings over a certain size to seek a ‘Special Exception Use Permit’ from the Board. As we exclusively reported, the move was in response to interest in the industrial sites along Four Mile Run — near Shirlington — by large-format retailers like Walmart.

After our article ran, we asked the leaders of two nearby civic associations what they thought of the Board’s action and the potential for large-format retail development in the area.

Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr., president of the Nauck Civic Association, said he was happy that the Board took the first step to ensuring that large-scale development in the area is given due consideration by the community.

The Nauck Civic Association participated in the decision to seek a Special General Land Use Permit for the Rosenthal [car lot] site and two additional sites in the designated Shirlington Crescent/Four Mile Run Drive area. The community had undertaken years of study of the area, but the study was curtailed a couple of years ago due to budgetary restraints and never adopted. The Association supports the action of the County Board in that it will bring back a continuation of the study previously worked on for a number of years and especially the results of a traffic study that is not binding if the by-right option is exercised under the present zoning. A change in the GLUP will allow the residents of Nauck have a say in the future development of the area.

John Breyault, president of the Long Branch Creek Civic Association, echoed Dr. Taylor’s support of the Board’s action.

Given that property’s proximity to the Long Branch Creek Civic Association, I am very glad to see that the County short-circuited any attempt by Wal-Mart to develop the property “by right” without Board approval (and, presumably, community input).

A big-box retailer like Wal-Mart has a big impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.  We are glad that the County Board has ensured that there is an opportunity for robust community input into the planning process for this property.  We look forward to participating in that process.

We reached out to two entities that represent business and developer interests in Northern Virginia, but both declined to comment on the record.

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