Press Club

Unauthorized Construction Caused Clarendon Gas Leak

The gas leak in Clarendon that caused several buildings to evacuate last weekend was caused by unauthorized construction, ARLnow.com has learned.

Interior construction on the small, vacant space of 3127 Wilson Blvd caused the gas leak, and Arlington County’s department of Community Planning, Housing and Development said they have not approved any permits for work, and ordered the work to stop after the gas leak.

“On Saturday, our Building Inspector issued a notice of violation on the business and posted a stop work order,” CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong said. “The business was doing major renovation without a permit.”

The small space, next door to Goody’s pizza shop, is owned by Tara Sharma, who also owns Classic Cigars & British Goodies (2907 Wilson Blvd). Sharma, who bought the space two months ago, said he doesn’t know what he plans to put into the space — except it won’t be a restaurant, coffee shop or ice cream store — but plans to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Sharma told ARLnow.com today that Washington Gas, which owns the gas line and the right-of-way for construction work, turned off the gas meter in the space at his request because “we don’t need the gas for the business.”

“I called them and told them there was a pipe there,” Sharma said. “They said ‘do whatever you want, there’s no gas in the pipe.'”

According to county staff, any penalties for unauthorized work in the right-of-way that caused the gas leak would be levied by Washington Gas. Representatives from Washington Gas did not return multiple messages seeking comment. Sharma said he hasn’t had any indication he’d be penalized for causing the leak.

Sharma agreed to stop construction while waiting for the county to approve his permit.

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