ARLnow Server Updates — For the security of our visitors, ARLnow.com is now being served exclusively via secure HTTPS. We’re still working out some kinks, so you might notice some bugs over the next week or two. For instance, despite hours of work over the weekend to try to fix it, photo galleries do not appear to be working on iOS devices like iPhones. Also, Disqus is still being served via HTTP. We appreciate your patience while we work to improve your user experience.
Hearings for Courthouse Plan — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously on Saturday to hold public hearings on a new sector plan for Courthouse. “This proposed update advances our vision for the Courthouse area, creating a people-oriented civic and cultural heart for Arlington,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. The hearings have been scheduled for September. [Arlington County]
New Group Champions Single-Family Neighborhoods — A new group, “Blue Ribbon Arlington,” has formed to advocate for single-family home neighborhoods. Initially, the group will focus on making Arlington a better place for seniors to “age in place.” Also, the group plans to address concerns about “edge” development around neighborhoods. [InsideNova]
Midsummer Night’s Dream Now Showing — A seasonally-appropriate production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is now showing at Synetic Theater in Crystal City. The performances will run through Aug. 9. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Arlington Probation Officer Charged — A 40-year-old Arlington County probation officer has been charged with the aggravated sexual battery of a 10-year-old girl in Woodbridge. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the crime. [NBC Washington]
No Democrats to Run Against Van Doren — Nancy Van Doren is the lone Democrat to file to run for the Arlington School Board seat being vacated by Noah Simon. She’s expected to be confirmed as the Democratic endorsee on Aug. 6. [InsideNova]
Verizon Outage Reported — A widespread Verizon FiOS and wireless data outage was reported in the D.C. area Sunday night through Monday morning. [CBS Local]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
APS to Benefit from State STEM Funding — Arlington Public Schools will be getting a boost from the Virginia Department of Education’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grants. A $247,000 grant to George Mason University will provide support to 90 educators in seven school districts, including Arlington. Additionally, a $250,000 grant shared by four colleges and universities will support 76 teachers in 45 school districts, including Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Public Hearing for School Boundary Changes — On Wednesday, the Arlington School Board will host a public hearing on the recommendations for boundary changes. Last month, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his recommendations for boundary changes. The hearing will take place at the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (April 3).
JBM-HH Works with County to Reduce Use of Energy — The Directorate of Public Works at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) has been working with Arlington County to share information about energy use and conservation. Although the two entities aren’t sharing policy yet, they’re sharing information about a community plan to reduce the use of energy. [U.S. Army]
Man Struck by Car in Clarendon Runs Race — Michael Sizemore, 28, is making a remarkable recovery after being struck by a car in Clarendon and nearly dying this past fall. Sizemore, who suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs in the accident, among other injuries, ran a 5K race in Martinsville, Va., near his hometown of Collinsville, this past Saturday. Sizemore’s father, girlfriend, friends and other families were on hand to cheer him on. [Martinsville Bulletin, Facebook]
Residents Speak Out at Tax Rate Hearing — It was a much shorter affair than Tuesday’s nearly four hour public budget hearing, but a public hearing on Arlington County’s proposed tax rate drew a small crowd of activists Thursday night. Those advocating for more affordable housing and social services asked the County Board to raise taxes up to the legal maximum of 5 cents, while budget hawks asked for no tax increase or, at minimum, following the County Manager’s recommendation for a 3.2 cent tax increase. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Student ‘ART’ Contest — The county is challenging budding middle school and high school artists in Arlington to design a pedestrian safety-themed “wrap” for buses. The winning entry will be used to wrap one ART bus. The submission deadline is June 3. [Arlington County]
In addition to cuts to several bus lines in Maryland and the District, WMATA is proposing scaling back weekend rail service.
Train “headways” would increase from 12 minutes to 18 minutes until 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays. On Sundays, headways will increase from 15 minutes to 20 minutes before 9:30 p.m. After 9:30 p.m. on both days, you’ll have to wait 25 minutes between trains.
The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow with an “open house,” followed by a “town hall meeting” at 6:00 p.m. and a public hearing at 6:45 p.m. The meeting is one of six being held around the region this week.
Dremo’s Coming to the Pike? — The owner of the late, lamented Dr. Dremo’s Tap Room is in talks with the landlord of the former Ski Chalet store at 2704 Columbia Pike. The building would give Dremo’s a spacious new home in a funky old building, complete with parking, room for outdoor seating, and access to plentiful bus routes. We’re pretty sure an ARLnow.com commenter was the one who first floated the idea. [Pike Wire]
Dozens Testify At Budget Hearing — More than 75 people spoke at last night’s annual County Board budget hearing. Representatives and supporters of various local human services agencies asked the Board to increase funding for their causes. Also present at the hearing were supporters of increased funding for arts organizations, bicycling infrastructure and Arlington Public Libraries. [Sun Gazette]
One Hurt in Motorcycle Accident — A motorcyclist suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries last night after a collision with a pickup truck at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive. The accident happened around 10:15 p.m. The motorcyclist was taken to George Washington University hospital for treatment.
Flickr pool photo by Allee574
The battle over the future of East Falls Church was well underway before the Arlington County Board spent more than two hours on the topic Tuesday night, but the raw emotion behind the neighbor vs. neighbor conflict became especially clear as about 20 speakers took the podium to voice their opinions.
The East Falls Church (EFC) development plan calls for the creation of a “transit town” of neighborhood-oriented retail and restaurants, six to nine-story mixed-use buildings, and pedestrian-oriented walkable and bike-able streetscapes. Development is inevitable, EFC task force chairman Mike Nardolilli says, since the station will soon become the transfer point to Tysons Corner and the Silver Line. Members of the task force spent three years working on the plan and says it mostly incorporates ideas that most residents welcome, based on a neighborhood survey.
But according to one man, supporters of the plan are “passive sheep,” the task force wants “to limit our freedom,” and the proposed narrowing of Sycamore Street is “idiotic.” That invective, and any other criticism of the plan, was greeted by loud applause from like-minded folks in the audience, who were clearly in the majority.
Critics said they weren’t adequately informed about the planning, complained that development would destroy the character of their largely low-density residential neighborhood, and worried that it would bring maladies like traffic, crime and pollution.
Development is “unneeded and unnecessary,” and the planning that has gone into it is a “sham process” one person said. “We do not want to turn our residential neighborhood into another Ballston,” said another. Several people called for an environmental impact study.
On the other side, one man was so overcome by frustration with the plan’s critics that he was, at one point, literally rendered speechless at the podium. He blasted fellow residents who believe that “everything should stop” when they move to a neighborhood.
He said that when he first moved to Arlington 58 years ago, before Metro and before I-66, East Falls Church had the kind of retail core that the development plan is trying to facilitate. Compared to the building of I-66, he said, “this is a minor change.”
“Over the years I’ve seen Arlington go through many changes and every change is controversial,” the man said. “There is always somebody who’s going to object… This is a good plan, not perfect, but it’s still a good plan.”
Other “smart growth” advocates lauded the plan, while another contingent at the meeting said the plan didn’t go far enough.
Michelle Winters, acting chair of the Arlington Housing Commission, said the plan does not have the density needed to support affordable housing and other the desired retail amenities appropriate for what will soon become the Metro transfer point to Tysons Corner on the Silver Line. She and other development advocates would like to see something more akin to the higher-density Virginia Tech East Falls Church Metro Plan, which was released in 2004.
Despite all the controversy and the raised emotions, the plan — even if approved by the board — is only a “framework,” which would guide development. The board would still have to approve individual developments through its usual process.
“This in no way is going to preclude the very rigorous debate the community will have,” board member Barbara Favola said. “The board will ultimately be able to decide on specific projects that fit within this framework. That’s a very key point.”
And in fact, the real battle may be yet to come. VDOT owns two-thirds of the five acre commuter parking lot that’s at the heart of the development plan. The proposal calls for most of the lot’s several hundred spaces to be eliminated to make way for 450,000 to 600,000 square feet of mixed-use development.
However, VDOT, which is expected to reveal its thoughts on the plan in August, views the lot as “a regional asset for mobility, not just for Arlington but for residents that live along the I-66 corridor,” according to county officials. About 80 percent of the parking is used by people from outside Arlington.
Metro is conducting the fourth installment of its “we’re raising prices and cutting service” roadshow in Arlington tonight. Metro, which is facing a staggering $189 million budget gap for the fiscal year starting July 1, has already held three of its six public hearings on its plan to close the gap.
Tonight’s hearing, to be held at 7:00 in the county board room (on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Boulevard), is the only hearing planned for Arlington.
Among the proposals Metro is considering, which are up for public comment tonight:
- Across-the-board fare increases for Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess
- Eliminate or reduce bus service on 100 lines (including a reduction on the 10B line, above)
- Establishment of a peak-of-the-peak surcharge
- Increase in parking fees and elimination of free parking times
- $4.00 flat rate for weekend late night rail service -or- ending rail service at midnight on Friday and Saturday
- Institute a special fare of up to five times the normal rate for special events (sports, concerts, presidential inaugurations, etc.)
Pool photo courtesy of Aaron Webb.
Neighbor will be pitted against neighbor at the Arlington Zoning Committee (“ZOCO”) hearing tomorrow night. The issue: parking recreational vehicles in the county.
Currently, the county’s RV parking policy is too stringent for some, who want to be able to legally park large RVs in their driveway, and doesn’t go far enough for others, who see RVs as an ugly, property-value-reducing blight on Arlington’s residential communities.
The two opposing arguments are laid out in excruciating detail in this county document.
The ZOCO hearing is scheduled from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) night at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).