Wreath-Laying Ceremony — Among other observances of today’s Veterans Day holiday in Arlington is a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial. The event will take place at 11 a.m., with a group of World War II and Korean War veterans on hand. [Twitter]
School Board Considers Gun Safety Measures — The Arlington School Board is considering asking the Virginia General Assembly for new legislation that would restrict guns around schools, although no one seriously believes that the Republican-controlled legislature would actually pass such a measure. [InsideNova]
Lee Highway Residents Debate Development — Arlington County’s planning process for the Lee Highway corridor has prompted many residents to come out against “overdevelopment” and taller building heights. The corridor is currently car-oriented, though neighborhoods like Cherrydale developed thanks to a former streetcar line. [WAMU]
Middle School Tourette Campaign — Williamsburg Middle School staff have created a Public Service Announcement ad as part of Bullying Prevention Month. The campaign, called “Accept Tourette,” is based around a seventh grade student at Williamsburg with Tourette Syndrome. [Arlington Public Schools]
There will be 155 t-shirts on display on the lawn outside of the Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ starting Sunday, a memorial to those lost to gun violence in the D.C. area.
Each t-shirt represents a victim of gun violence in the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia in 2014. Each will have a name, age and date of death on it.
“The display is set up to encourage people to walk among the shirts and reflect on those victims and their loved ones,” Rev. Kathy Dwyer said.
The T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost will remain in place from Oct. 11-24. It’s part of a project led by Heeding God’s Call, an organization that advocates for “common sense” gun laws. The church has asked its members to help it set up the display after morning services this Sunday.
“It seems like every time we turn around there’s another act of senseless violence,” Dwyer said.
There will be 75 white shirts for D.C., 23 yellow shirts for Northern Virginia and 57 blue shirts for Maryland. Outside of the District, the victims are from places like Arlington County, Alexandria, Culpepper and Woodbridge in Virginia and Laurel, Ellicott City, Columbia and Gaithersburg, Maryland. Baltimore, which has a high rate of gun violence, is not included.
This is the second time the t-shirt memorial has been erected in Arlington, Dwyer said. First Presbyterian Church held the memorial last year. This year there are 11 fewer shirts.
Dwyer will discuss gun violence as part of her sermons on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Members of the congregation have told Dwyer they want to do more than pray for a solution to gun violence, she said, a call that sparked the church to hold the memorial.
“[We see people] really reacting to the violence we see with more violence, and we want to be part of a different path,” she said.
The church has included national issues in sermons and discussions before. The church previously had talks about the intertwining of race and religion, which concluded this past Sunday.
Office Vacancy Down in Arlington — Arlington has had a 1.6 percent positive net absorption of commercial office space so far this year. Crystal City in particular has done well, gaining 313,000 square feet of occupancy. [Bisnow]
History Plan for Arlington Centennial — Arlington County is seeking public comment on the mid-term report produced by the Arlington History Task Force. The task force is trying to come up with a plan for preserving Arlington’s history, in time for the county’s centennial in 2020. [Arlington County]
McLean Up in Arms Over Gun Store — Nova Firearms, the gun store that tried unsuccessfully to open a store in Cherrydale, has moved its McLean store to a larger location but is now incurring the wrath of a group of residents. Parents object to the fact that the new store is behind a local elementary school, in view of at least one classroom. [Washington Post]
Gym Responds to String of Sexual Assaults — Responding to a string of attacks on women in Arlington, including a sexual assault near Rosslyn over the weekend, the Nova MMA CrossFit gym is offering a free self-defense seminar on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 7-9 p.m. [MyFoxDC]
Road Closures for Army Ten-Miler — Route 110, the northbound I-395 HOV lanes, S. Eads Street, Army Navy Drive, Long Bridge Drive and Washington Blvd are among the roads in Arlington that will be closed Sunday morning for the annual Army Ten-Miler race. [Arlington County]
Del. Patrick Hope is calling on Virginia lawmakers and Gov. Terry McAuliffe to pass a bill requiring universal background checks for gun sales conducted in the Commonweatlth.
Spurred by the recent shooting in Roanoke, Virginia, Hope took to the Internet, creating a petition on Change.org about universal background checks. The petition received more than 20,000 signatures in the first 24 hours, Hope said. As of today, more than 28,000 people had signed.
“People are angry,” Hope said. “People are angry by the inaction.”
Hope joined seven other Virginia delegates at a press conference in front of the Arlington County courthouse Thursday, talking about the need for universal background checks.
“We’re here today committed to do something about gun violence,” he said during the press conference. “We’re here today because we’ve grown really sick and tired that every single day we hear that there’s another mass shooting, and that we do nothing.”
According to hope, universal background checks are an easy, noncontroversial measure that can be changed and most voters support them.
“No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check,” he said.
Most Virginia residents believe that there is already a law in place requiring a background check before every gun sale, Hope said, which is not the case.
Currently, there is a loophole in Virginia that doesn’t require background checks for sales at gun shows. Hope said he went to a gun show and asked if he could get a gun without a background check. Instead of raising red flags, the vendors were more than happy to help him.
“It’s as easy as buying a pack of bubble gum,” he said.
There will be legislation introduced in 2016 calling for the universal background checks, according to Hope, but it has to also pass the state Senate, which has killed gun control reforms in the past. The only difference between this year and next is that 2016 is an election year.
“The only way we’re going to get legislators to change their minds is if the voters force them to,” he said.
Universal background checks won’t prevent every tragedy, Hope said, pointing to the Roanoke shooting, where the shooter legally bought a gun, but it can prevent some.
“If we can prevent one incident from occurring, then we should do it,” Hope said.
Photo courtesy Blue Virginia
Library Book Returned 34 Years Later — A teen novel has been returned to the Wakefield High School library 34 years overdue. The book, “The Underside of the Leaf,” was last checked out in 1981. [Washington Post]
Man Charged With Bringing Loaded Gun to DCA — A Woodbridge man was stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after they discovered a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage. [WUSA 9]
Beyer Seeks to Hike Entire Appalachian Trail — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has so far hiked 1,253 miles of the Appalachian Trail, in 46 different hikes, after vowing to complete the entire trail in 2002. [Rep. Don Beyer]
Fire Station Relocation May Go to Voters — A controversial plan to relocate Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway and the Hall’s Hill neighborhood to a locale further north, in order to improve response times, could be put to voters. Opponents may push for a stand-alone bond issue for construction of the new fire station, which would put it on the ballot. The idea was floated during a well-attended community meeting on the fire station relocation plan last night. [InsideNova]
North vs. South Swimming Pool Divide? — Swimming has always been a significant part of life in Arlington, but current pool options are tilted toward north Arlington, says Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. Building the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics center could help alleviate the divide, Clark reasons. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Family Kicked off Flight — An Arlington family was kicked off a JetBlue flight from Boston to Baltimore on Monday, reportedly because of a squirming two year old and FAA regulations. [WUSA 9]
DCA Screeners Find Two Guns in Two Days — Screeners at Reagan National Airport found two guns in carry-on baggage over the course of two days this week. The two men who had the guns in their bags are now facing weapons charges. [WJLA]
I-395 Exit to Close Temporarily — The exit from northbound I-395 to Washington Blvd will close overnight Sunday and Monday for paving and lane striping, VDOT says. [Patch]
Gun Store Owner Blames Bloomberg — James Gates, the Marine Corps veteran who tried to open a gun store in Cherrydale, said that the cancellation of its lease after a neighborhood outcry was the fault of the former mayor of New York City. “When news of our planned location in Arlington became public, there were some local critics; however they enjoyed outsized influence when anti-civil rights campaigns backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg picked up their cause,” Gates said in a statement. [Washington Times]
Bee Swarm at Arlington Home — Hundreds, maybe thousands of honey bees have taken up residence in the chimney of an Arlington home. The homeowner called ABC 7 On Your Side after beekeepers wouldn’t help her out, because the chimney was too high, and after learning that it’s against the law to kill the bees with pesticides. “It seems as a homeowner the bees have more of a right to live in my home than I do,” said Alex Casiano. “While I understand honey bees are important to our environment, honey bees don’t pay my rent.” [WJLA]
Salary Boost for Acting County Manager — Three weeks into the job, Acting County County Manager Mark Schwartz is getting a modest raise. The County Board agreed to boost his $204,000 salary as a Deputy County Manager by 10 percent during his time as Acting County Manager. His predecessor, Barbara Donnellan, earned $269,742 per year. [Arlington County]
Alexandria Wants Citywide Residential Fiber — Alexandria is seeking a partner to build a citywide fiber optic network to serve homes and businesses. Alexandria’s request for fiber after Verizon abandoned plans to build out FiOS service in the city. Arlington County has built its own municipal fiber network, but it so far is only available to county government, schools and businesses. [Ars Technica]
Falls Church Paper Throws Shade at Arlington — McLean residents are stymying the City of Falls Church’s plan to renovate a city elementary that’s located in Fairfax County. That, however, is being used by a newspaper to make some serious insinuations about Arlington. “The main way the City of Falls Church pisses off its much bigger neighbors is by being successful,” writes the Falls Church News-Press in an editorial. “It really frustrates those who imagine that there could be a lot of money to be made by someone, not in Falls Church, if the City threw its hands in the air and abandoned its independence, becoming a drop-in-the-bucket neighborhood of either Fairfax or Arlington instead. People with big money who’ve spent a lot of it on cultivating political appointees or elected officials to do their bidding in the neighboring jurisdictions are angered by the fact they don’t own Falls Church officials in the same way.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
The gun store had leased a space at 2105 N. Pollard Street, causing outcry from members of the community. However, the store’s would-be landlord said today that he has reached an agreement with NOVA Firearms to cancel the lease.
The debate over the gun store heated quickly with County Board candidates speaking out against it and the National Rifle Association coming out in support. Petitions were launched for and against the store, accumulating thousands of signatures. Conservative media outlets ran articles in support of James Gates, the Marine Corps veteran who co-owns the store, drawing national attention.
Community members — and owners of businesses in and around the small shopping center the gun store was to open — took their concerns directly to landlord Kostas Kapasouris.
Kapasouris was open to those concerns, said Bill Hamrock, the co-owner of Bistro 29, which would have been across the street from the gun store. (The restaurant is co-owned by Kapasouris.)
“He knew right away and it wasn’t going to work from the community, but the business owners let him know as well,” Hamrock said.
Kapasouris said that it was all his decision to cancel the lease.
“I don’t want to have a gun store,” he said to ARLnow.com. “I thought it wasn’t a good store.”
Kapasouris said that he decided against having a gun store after the lease was signed and that NOVA Firearms — which has an existing location in McLean — was told of his decision when the store’s owners recently visited the space.
“Listening to the neighbors and the community, the landlord came to an agreement with the proposed gun store and they will not be opening in Cherrydale,” Hamrock said.
Hamrock said other business owners in the area were pleased with the decision to pull the gun store, as just the idea of having such a store was causing them to lose business.
“I had several customers showing me Facebook [posts] that were telling people not to come to the restaurant,” Hamrock said.
Instead of a gun store, Hamrock thinks that the storefront — formerly occupied by Curves fitness studio — could be leased to a small, noncontroversial retail shop or a café.
“It seems perfect for a bakery or small coffee shop,” he said.
Reached via phone, NOVA Firearms co-owner Rachel Dresser declined to comment on the news until she could speak to Gates. Last month, Dresser told ARLnow.com that backing out of the store was “not an option given the money we’ve already invested.”
Arlington Scores Lidl HQ — Arlington County will be the home of the new $77 million U.S. corporate headquarters of Lidl, a discount German grocery chain that’s seeking to expand in the United States. The headquarters is expected to create 500 new jobs in Arlington and will anchor the National Gateway office development near Potomac Yard. “Lidl chose Arlington for its U.S. corporate headquarters because of our commitment to diversifying our economy, a terrific workforce, regional transit connections and access to a major airport,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Arlington Teen Advances in Singing Competition — Kenmore Middle School student Samantha Rios, who is competing on the Telemundo singing program “La Voz Kids,” has advanced to the semifinals and is now being coached by Reggaeton musician Daddy Yankee. [Washington Post]
Young Republicans Blast Anti-Gun-Store Tactics — Opponents of a gun store that’s trying to open in Cherrydale are urging their supporters to confront the owners of the store and the shopping center in which it’s opening in person. That has Republicans crying foul. “Having exhausted reasonable avenues, the anti-gunners encourage their flock to harass property owner,” said the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans. [Twitter]
Immigration Center to Open in Crystal City — A planned immigration services center in Crystal City, which has been delayed due to legal wrangling over President Obama’s executive action deferring the deportation of certain illegal immigrants, is now reportedly set to open soon. Hundreds of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will be working out of the office building at 2200 Crystal Drive, processing immigration applications and petitions. [Breitbart]
Praise for ‘Alice’ Production — The Encore Stage and Studio production of “Alice in Wonderland” is garnering critical kudos for its star, Brandi Moore, a Harvard-bound Washington-Lee High School senior. The show wraps up its run this weekend at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre at 125 S. Old Glebe Road. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The debate over a gun store that’s opening in Cherrydale shows no sign of stopping as concerned residents and County Board candidates face off against the National Rifle Association and gun rights supporters.
On one side is a Change.org petition, started by a local resident, which has already amassed more than 2,400 signers who are urging the store’s landlord, Kostas Kapasouris, to cancel its lease. There’s also now a “Cherrydale Gun Store Opposition” Facebook page, which counts all six Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board as being opposed to the store.
On the other side is the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, which has started its own petition in support of the gun store. The NRA-ILA has also produced a video (above) and an article, calling residents who oppose the store “bigots” who are “ignorant” and employing “bullying tactics.”
“To the intolerant residents of Cherrydale who are raising a fuss, we thank you for portraying for the rest of the country the unreasonable and small-minded attitudes that permeate anti-gun culture,” the NRA article says. “It certainly is a telling display you’re putting on for everyone else. Nevertheless, were you to decide to put down your pitchforks and torches and sample the wares from NOVA Firearms, we would welcome you into the fold of gun owners without judgment or reservation.”
The petition against the gun store says it represents the true voice of the community. It lists a phone number for NOVA Firearms and encourages those who oppose it to “call and voice your view.”
“We have 2,350+ supporters of the petition, and more than 80% are from Arlington,” the petition says. “Support for this petition shows our community does not believe a gun shop is the right fit for the former Curves location in Cherrydale. Opposition has formed to our petition, but I wonder if they can claim 80% are from our community?”
Despite the opposition, and reports that Kapasouris may be trying to break the lease, NOVA Firearms says it’s still planning on opening later this summer.
(Kapasouris could not be reached for comment.)
Rachel Dresser, co-owner of the McLean-based store, said they have not heard from Kapasouris recently and have received no documents indicating that their lease is being canceled. She said the store has been working with the community to find some sort of a compromise, but they’ve invested too much in the new store to back out now.
“At this point we’re trying to move forward, but the community really wants us to leave but that’s not an option given the money we’ve already invested,” she said. “It’s not an ATM, I can’t just say cash out and move somewhere else. We did not expect this level of resistance so we’re really just trying to work with the community and take things one day at a time.”
GOP Offers Support to Gun Store Owner — A Change.org petition against a planned gun store in Cherrydale has reached more than 1,900 signatures. The store’s landlord now says he’s trying to figure out ways to legally break the lease. Countering the backlash, the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans have launched a petition in support of the store and its owner, 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran James Gates. “We can’t remain silent while Arlington liberals push their radical anti-gun agenda,” the petition says. [AFCYR]
Hynes Fires Back at Reevesland Sale Critics — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is firing back at criticism of the Board’s 3-2 decision to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse to a private owner. Critics charge that the sale was hastily added to the Board agenda the day before the vote and that citizen groups should have had more time to propose alternatives. Hynes said the house would have needed $2.5 million in work to be brought up to code for public use and noted that interested groups have had 5 years to suggest better alternatives for using the house. [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Outdoor School in Fauquier County — Every year thousands of Arlington Public Schools visit the APS-operated Outdoor Lab in Fauquier County, experiencing nature and wildlife first hand. The property was purchased with private funds for school use and is beloved by students. However, some worry that a proposal to increase summer use of the 225 acre site may overtax the lab and its ecology. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Nova Firearms is planning to open in the former Curves storefront in Cherrydale, the company confirmed Tuesday night.
In a statement, the McLean-based company said it will open its new Arlington location this summer. The store will sell firearms to police departments and civilians, and will offer gun safety classes.
Rumors have been flying around neighborhood listservs about the store, which is currently under construction. Some residents have said that such a store raises concerns about safety and even local property values.
The full statement from Nova Firearms is below.
McLean-based Nova Firearms have announced the opening of its new store in Arlington, Virginia scheduled for Summer 2015.
The grand opening of the Arlington location will coincide with the first anniversary of owner James “JB” Gates’ purchase of Nova Firearms. Nova first opened its doors in Falls Church in 2012 under previous ownership, then moved to its current location in McLean where it has enjoyed a warm reception.
“We want to thank the communities of Falls Church and McLean who welcomed Nova Firearms with open arms, and we believe Arlington will be an equally good location for our small, family-run business,” Gates said.
Nova supplies police departments as well as civilians. “Because of our proximity to the nation’s capital, the Pentagon, and CIA Headquarters, our customers understand security on a professional and personal level,” Gates explained.
When Gates isn’t behind the counter serving customers at Nova’s Mclean store, the US Marine Corps veteran provides personal protection and IT security services to a wide clientele, in and around the Metropolitan area.
The customers of Nova Firearms are equally diverse. According to Gates, their clients include many first time gun owners, longtime sportsmen, and the occasional celebrity. “You might be surprised by the number of well-known government leaders who did their Christmas shopping at Nova Firearms,” he remarked.
Gates is a proud sponsor of local charities, including the conservation efforts of local Ducks Unlimited chapters and programs supporting veterans and their families. He plans to offer expanded firearms safety training to the community at the new Arlington location of Nova Firearms.
Update on 5/20/15 — Nova Firearms has confirmed that it is indeed opening a store in Cherrydale.
The Maywood and Cherrydale neighborhood email listservs are abuzz today with talk of a gun store coming to the neighborhood.
The rumors surround the former Curves storefront at 2105 N. Pollard Street, in a small strip mall along Lee Highway. In a widely-circulated email, a neighbor says she’s spoken with the shopping center’s owner and he confirmed that a gun store will open there.
The property owner, Kostas Kapasouris, told ARLnow.com last week that an “expensive sporting goods” store has leased the space. He would not say who owns the store was or whether it would sell guns.
Listserv users have said they believe that the store may be linked with NOVA Firearms, a gun store in McLean. A man who answered the phone this afternoon said the owner of NOVA Firearms would call an ARLnow.com reporter back — but then quickly hung up before asking for a phone number.
Owners and employees of other stores in the shopping center said they heard the same rumors of a gun store or a high-end sporting goods store selling guns, but said they had not heard anything definitive from Kapasouris. Some expressed concerns about a gun store moving in, particularly given that there are several schools in the area.
Residents on the listservs expressed similar concerns.
“Wow! Was hoping for something a bit more family friendly,” one said. “I’m sure ‘walkable to gun shop’ will do wonders for our real estate values.”
“I am adamantly opposed to this!” another said. “If others feel the same way, can we petition the County to prevent this business in our neighborhood?”
It’s unlikely the county government has any legal standing to prevent a gun store that’s otherwise following Virginia law from opening. At least one resident privately told ARLnow.com that he’s not sure why there’s such an uproar.
“Note that the pawnshop on Lee Highway and Kirkwood (which used to go by National Pawnbrokers) also sells firearms, so I’m not sure what the big deal is,” he said.
Interior construction could be heard inside the store last week and workers could be seen coming and going. County officials told ARLnow.com that construction permits were not necessary because the work was minor. Inspectors responded to the location and found no code violations.
As of Tuesday afternoon, opaque plastic sheets covered the store’s windows and no other activity could be seen.
All gun control bills proposed by Democrats that went before the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee yesterday were defeated. Among the legislation struck down was a bill from Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) that would have made it illegal for parents to allow a child 4 years old or younger to use a firearm.
Another bill, from Sen. Barbara Favola (D), would have prevented those convicted of stalking or sexual battery from carrying a firearm.
More than a dozen bills that would restrict everything from who can purchase guns, which convicted criminals can carry guns and how many guns one person can buy were all struck down by the committee. The bills’ defeat was not a surprise considering Republicans control the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and the GOP has long opposed any legislation viewed as restricting Second Amendment rights.
“Handing a child under the age of 4 a gun, the adult is no longer in control of the situation. Simply requiring adult supervision, even with careful instruction, cannot guarantee the safety of anyone nearby,” Del. Alfonso Lopez, who proposed similar legislation to Ebbin’s bill in the House of Delegates, said in a speech before the General Assembly. “If it’s illegal to hand a gun to a person with the mental capabilities of a 4 year-old, why would you hand a gun to an actual 4 year-old?”
Ebbin’s major legislation was an omnibus gun bill that restricted the use of and ability to carry firearms when drinking, at restaurants, and leaving loaded firearms around minors among a litany of other proposed regulations. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the large bill “took longer to present than it did to debate and vote down.”
Before the committee met, Ebbin spoke with ARLnow.com about gun control measures, and he was optimistic that some reforms could pass.
“I’m not sure how much consensus we’ll reach, but gun violence is going to be a big discussion we’re having,” Ebbin said. “I have a thick skin and a positive attitude. Too many people are dying to not press forward on it.”
Favola’s bill to prevent stalkers and those convicted of sexual battery from possessing firearms was originally reported out of committee — meaning it would go before the state senate — and the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Thomas Norment, was heard voting “aye” for Favola’s bill. Hours later, on the legislature’s website, the bill was reported defeated, leading to outcry from senate Democrats.
“This smacks of back-room politics,” Favola told ARLnow.com. The bill will be reconsidered by the committee tomorrow afternoon, according to Favola’s office.
In contrast to the legislation that was shot down, a bill advanced out of committee that would allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry guns on school property when there are no school activities happening. It’s unclear if that, or other pro-gun rights laws, will be vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
State Loan for Potomac Yard Metro — Virginia is providing a $50 million low-interest loan to Alexandria for construction of the future Potomac Yard Metro station. Previously, the Commonwealth offered Arlington up to $65 million for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project. [Washington Post]
Hope Wants to Link Child Support, Gun Permits — Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has proposed legislation that would revoke concealed handgun permits for Virginia residents who fall more than 90 days or $5,000 behind on child support payments. [InsideNova]
Eden Center Damage Estimate — Damage to the Eden Center, caused by an explosion on Jan. 14, is estimated to be more than $1 million. The Falls Church fire marshal determined the explosion to be accidental, caused by “improper use of propane and oxygen.”
Arlington Offers Cash Bikeshare Memberships — To serve those without bank accounts, Arlington County is now offering county residents cash-only Capital Bikeshare memberships. Normally, memberships require a credit card, so that Bikeshare can charge $1,000 if the bike goes missing. [Arlington County, Streetsblog]
No News Coverage Today — In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, ARLnow.com will only be covering breaking news today. Our regular news coverage will resume tomorrow. See our list of county government closures for the holiday.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf