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State Supreme Court Could Decide Fate of Highlander Motel Redevelopment

The Virginia Supreme Court could soon decide the fate of the Highlander Motel near Virginia Square, as the property’s owner continues to push to redevelop the site.

Arlington County has been locked in a legal battle with local businessman Bill Bayne for nearly two years now over the property at 3336 Wilson Blvd, arguing that Bayne shouldn’t be able to use an existing parking lot for the same purpose after replacing the 55-year-old motel with a CVS Pharmacy.

The matter went before the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals in July 2016, and was twice considered by Arlington’s circuit court, with a judge ultimately deciding last year that Bayne should be able to move ahead with his plans. But Bayne says the county is appealing that ruling to the state’s highest court, which could drag out any redevelopment of the property indefinitely.

“There is no reason for them to fight it,” said Bayne, who also owns the Crystal City Restaurant and co-owns Crystal City Sports Pub. “There’s no upside benefit for them… You’re dealing with an old, outdated property that’s behind its time. It’s much better for a neighborhood to have a CVS than an old, beat-up hotel.”

Bayne hopes the Supreme Court will decide by late August whether or not it will hear the county’s appeal. If the court takes the case, Bayne fears it could drag out the process for “another year” or more, further endangering his already damaged plans to redevelop the property.

But even if the court rejects Arlington’s appeal, Bayne worries his deal with CVS has already likely “fallen apart.” He was set to sign a 50-year lease to bring the pharmacy to the site, bringing him close to $45 million over the term of the lease, and believes he may never engineer a redevelopment of the lot even if he emerges successful in court.

“There would’ve already been a CVS built and open, but they’ve dragged me through a legal process that’s taken years,” Bayne said.

County Attorney Steve MacIsaac did not respond to requests for comment seeking clarity on why the county is appealing the court’s ruling.

The county’s legal filings over the years suggest Arlington officials were concerned with the size of the pharmacy Bayne hoped to build, particularly on a site bordering residential neighborhoods just on the edge of Clarendon, even though county lawyers challenged the project on the basis of some arcane zoning laws.

The legal spat over the Highlander began when Bayne asked for permission from the county to use a parking lot just behind the motel on N. Kenmore Street as parking for the proposed CVS.

A county zoning administrator pointed out that the hotel’s owners received permission when the motel was built back in 1963 to use that lot as “transitional” parking, and never sought any subsequent zoning change. That same lot would help Bayne’s company meet the county’s parking requirement for a retail building of the CVS’s size, a shop that would essentially replace the motel in its entirety.

The county changed its zoning ordinance in 1983 to ban the use of transitional lots for meeting minimum parking requirements, as Arlington moved toward a more transit-focused mentality and officials viewed requests for large parking lots more skeptically. Accordingly, the zoning administrator rejected Bayne’s proposal, setting up a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Board members pressed Bayne’s lawyers on whether he couldn’t simply shrink the proposed CVS and reduce the need for more parking. Land use attorney Evan Pritchard noted in the July 16, 2016 hearing that CVS viewed a smaller location as “no longer worth the trouble” of pursuing.

The Board unanimously denied Bayne’s appeal, arguing that the zoning administrator’s interpretation of the law was the correct one, even if such a distinction over parking lots seemed trivial.

“I’m not saying the proposed commercial use is a bad one, or that it even isn’t in the interest of Arlington County, but the County Board has written the zoning ordinance this way,” Board member Peter Owen said during the hearing.

Bayne appealed that ruling to the county’s circuit court, arguing in an Aug. 11, 2016 complaint that simply using the parking lot for a different establishment would not “change the character or intensity” of the property.

But in motions opposing Bayne’s appeal, county attorneys reiterated their historical zoning arguments and repeatedly cited the size of Bayne’s proposed CVS as a troublesome factor.

“It is as a result of the size of the CVS that all required parking can’t be located on the site,” assistant county attorney Christine Sanders argued in a trial on the matter.

In an Oct. 26, 2017 motion, Sanders also dubbed Bayne’s effort “an end run around the public process of a rezoning” from a residential designation to a commercial one, which “continues to foist upon the neighborhood a noxious use” of the property.

Retired Judge Alfred Swersky sided with Bayne, and denied the county’s subsequent request for another hearing, setting up a potential state Supreme Court fight.

Bayne says he “fully expects” to emerge victorious in the end, whether he’s ultimately able to realize his vision of a CVS on the property or not. He simply remains frustrated that this process has even dragged on for so long in the first place.

“It’s a good thing for the county, how can you argue with it?” Bayne said. “They’ve been told they’re wrong twice by a judge, why do you need to be told a third time?”

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Morning Poll: What’s Above the CVS in Clarendon?

Last Friday, as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup in Clarendon, a few ARLnow staffers had some time to kill.

As the minutes ticked by and Lord Stanley’s cup was still somewhere between Dulles and Don Tito’s, we looked up at the CVS Pharmacy across the street and realized something: there was a second floor. It might seem obvious to others, but we hadn’t noticed the windows there before.

What exactly was up there, we wondered?

Before Slacking the intern to request a full investigation the following week, we saw two people peering out the window at the growing crowd below.

The clothes they were wearing were a pretty good clue as to what’s up there — but that’s not going to stop us from making the most of this mystery and posting it in the form of a morning poll.

So we put it to you, our readers: what do you imagine is above the Clarendon CVS?

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Rosslyn CVS to Close in January

A CVS in Rosslyn will close early next year.

A sign on the door of the pharmacy and store at 1555 Wilson Blvd says it will shutter on January 3.

The CVS is on the first floor of a soon-to-redevelop office building, alongside the now-shuttered Quiznos Subs and Domino’s Pizza.

Developer Penzance is planning to raze the current building and replace it with two apartment buildings, ground-floor retail and the new Fire Station 10.

The site is also close to the Wilson School, future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, where construction is underway. Both properties are a part of the broader Western Rosslyn Area Plan, a vision for development in that section of the neighborhood.

The other CVS in Rosslyn is located at 1100 Wilson Blvd.

Hat-tip to Allix H.

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Morning Notes

Youth sports practice at Barcroft Park (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]

Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]

Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]

High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]

Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Police: Women Pepper Sprayed Employees During CVS Robbery

Arlington County Police are looking for two women suspected of stealing cosmetics from a CVS store and pepper spraying two employees who tried to stop them.

The alleged robbery took place at 3:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, at the CVS Pharmacy at 256 N. Glebe Road in Buckingham. This afternoon, police released surveillance images from the store in an effort to solicit the public’s help in identifying the suspects.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating two suspects involved in a larceny and assault incident at a CVS Pharmacy store.

The suspects entered the CVS Pharmacy, located in the 200 block of N. Glebe Road, at 3:30 a.m. on September 23, 2013. Suspect one was captured on surveillance video placing numerous cosmetic items in two handbags. Suspect two was serving as a lookout in the aisle. After securing the items, suspect one proceeds to the self checkout and pretends to pay for the items. When she attempts to exit the store, an employee confronts her and she discharges pepper spray in his face. A second employee attempts to intervene and she is also pepper sprayed. The suspects fled the scene in an unknown type vehicle.

Suspect one is described as a black female in her 20’s, approximately 6’0” tall and 180 lbs. She was wearing green pants, a white t-shirt and tan flats at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black female with a thin build. She was wearing a blue jean jacket and black yoga style pants.

If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of these individuals, please contact Detective James Stone of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703.228.4245 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Crime Report: Man in Wheelchair Robs CVS

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Last Thursday, a knife-wielding man in a wheelchair robbed the CVS Pharmacy in Courthouse, according to this week’s Arlington County, Va. crime report.

Police say the man attempted to shoplift an electric razor and several bottles of wine. After initially leaving the store, a CVS employee reportedly wheeled him back in and asked him to replace the stolen goods. The employee backed off and let him leave again after the man brandished a knife, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Police caught up with the suspect at the nearby Courthouse Metro station. The knife was allegedly found under the seat of his wheelchair.

ARMED ROBBERY, 11/01/12, 2100 block of N. 15th Street. On November 1 at 6:09 pm, a subject in a wheelchair entered a pharmacy, placed several items in a backpack and left the store without paying for the merchandise. An employee went outside and pushed the subject back into the store to recover the items. The subject brandished a knife and fled the scene. Police located him a short distance away at the Courthouse Metro station. The knife was recovered on the subject and the merchandise was returned . William Louis Chase, Jr., 45, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with armed robbery. He was held without bond.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.

ROBBERY, 11/04/12, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 2:15 pm on November 4, two juvenile subjects assaulted an employee of a pharmacy and stole cigarettes. Both subjects attempted to flee the scene but were detained by employees. Both subjects were arrested and charged with robbery.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 10/31/12, 600 block of N. Glebe Road. At 11:30 pm on October 31, a intoxicated subject was caught behind the bar and when confronted swung a bottle of Amaretto at the manager. The manager sustained a laceration to her leg from being hit and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for minor injuries. Jorge Zunagua, 30, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. He was held without bond.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 11/04/12, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 11:25 pm on November 4, a subject was hit in the head with a plate during a altercation at a bar. The victim sustained a serious laceration to the ear and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center. Mario Lewis, 53, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. He was held without bond.

BURGLARY, 11/01/12, 200 block of S. Clark Street. Between 11 am and 1:30 pm on November 1, an unknown subject(s) entered an office suite and stole computer equipment. There is no suspect(s) description.

BURGLARY, 11/02/12, 1900 block of N. 13th Street. Between 3 and 8:55 am on November 2, an unknown subject(s) entered a residence and stole various items. Items reported stolen included a television, computer equipment and electronics. There is no suspect(s) description.

BURGLARY, 11/05/12, 4200 block of Columbia Pike. Between 8 am on September 21 and 1:52 am on October 24, an unknown subject(s) broke into a vacant residence through a window. It is unknown if anything was stolen or how long the subject(s) were there. There is no suspect(s) description.

STOLEN VEHICLES

10/31/12, PA 2280746 (tags only)
11/04/12, VA YBG9881, 2002 Dodge Caravan, White, 1800 block of S. 26th Street
11/04/12, VA XET2292, 2003 Toyota Camry, Maroon, 2700 block of S. Quincy Street
11/05/12, VA XLM6063 (tags only)
11/06/12, VA XTR6487, 1996 Honda Accord, Black, 1700 block of S. Hayes Street

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Car Plows Into Columbia Pike CVS, Again

(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A car has plowed into the CVS Pharmacy at 5017 Columbia Pike for the second time in as many years.

The incident happened around 11:00. The car, a Mitsubishi sedan, hopped a curb smashed through a low wall and several large windows next to the entrance to the store, coming to rest on the sidewalk. Nobody was injured. Initial reports suggest the driver was trying to back out of the parking spot, but instead hit the gas while the car was in drive.

The fire department ordered the store temporarily closed as a safety precaution, pending a building inspection. A manager, who was assessing the damage, said the mid-day closure was costing the store “thousands” of dollars, not to mention the cost of repairing the damage.

In May 2011, a car hopped the curb and smashed into the store just feet from where today’s accident occurred. The scars from that accident are still visible in the repaired section of wall.

The manager said the store will likely look into planters or other ways to prevent additional accidents.

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CVS Launches ‘MinuteClinic’ in Pentagon City

CVS Pharmacy has launched a MinuteClinic at its new Pentagon City location (1201 S. Hayes Street).

The store-based clinic will offer customers quick diagnostics and solutions for common ailments and injuries, as well as vaccinations and and basic check-ups for adolescents. From a company press release:

MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants specialize in family health care and can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common family illnesses such as strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections. Minor wounds, abrasions and joint sprains are treated, and common vaccinations such as influenza, tetanus, pneumonia and Hepatitis A & B are available at most locations. Walk-in camp, sports and college physicals for adolescents are available daily. In addition, MinuteClinic administers a series of wellness services designed to help consumers identify lifestyle changes needed to improve their current and future health, including screenings and monitoring for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

No appointments are required at MinuteClinic and most health insurance is accepted. For patients paying cash or credit, treatment prices are posted at each medical center and on www.minuteclinic.com. The cost for most treatment starts at $79.

A PR rep for the company said MinuteClinics help to make healthcare “more accessible, convenient and affordable for patients near where they live and work.”

This is the second MinuteClinic in Arlington and the 22nd in the metro D.C. area. The other Arlington-based MinuteClinic is located at the CVS at the Lyon Village Shopping Center (3133 Lee Highway).

Both Arlington clinics operate seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday; and 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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