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by Chris Teale October 31, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Two neighbors of a planned child care center on Lee Highway filed a lawsuit in Arlington Circuit Court this month to try and stop it opening.

The suit, filed by N. McKinley Street residents Francisca Ferro and Cornelius James Coakley who live right behind the property, is against the proposed Little Ambassadors Academy, which is planning to open at 5801 and 5901 Lee Highway. The Arlington County Board approved the plan at its September meeting.

Little Ambassadors, which already operates two child care centers on Lee Highway, is planning to open another facility that would have space for up to 155 children aged 20 months to 5 years old.

The center would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and have its rear parking lot converted into an outdoor playground, while the loading area next to N. McKinley Street would be modified to have 20 parking spaces.

But in a complaint filed on October 18, the pair allege that the child care facility will negatively affect parking, traffic congestion and noise in the neighborhood, especially for local residents.

“The Special Use Permit materially impacts Petitioners in a way that is different from the impact on to the general public, by greatly increasing traffic and safety concerns in the vicinity of their residences as a result of the expanding the number of cars permitted to traverse and park in the area,” the complaint reads.

The complaint against the County Board and Little Ambassadors rests on four claims.

First, they allege that the Board did not give neighbors sufficient notice that a hearing on the planned child care facility would be taking place.

By law, those nearby must be given at least five days’ written notice, but Ferro and Coakley said they only heard about the hearing on September 14, two days before it was scheduled to be heard by the County Board.

Second, the pair argue that the County Board broke the Dillon Rule, which limits the power of local government by leaving it up to the state government to delegate powers to localities.

Third, the complaintants say that in having the county Department of Human Services decide on the maximum number of children that can attend, and by having the county Zoning Administrator approve the center’s parking plan, the County Board did not have the power to delegate those tasks and should have done it themselves.

Fourth, the pair also dinged the Board for an “unreasonable exercise of legislative function” in approving the center, meaning it should not have been approved, and said the center’s parking plan violates the county’s Zoning Ordinance.

Arlington zoning calls for one parking space on site for each staff member at a child care center, with one parking space also provided for every 10 children that attend. The complaint says the 20 on-site spaces and four off-site spaces do not add up to enough parking.

In May, the Board added a staff member to the Dept. of Community, Planning, Housing and Development to suggest changes to Arlington’s zoning ordinance to help child care centers open.

At the time, Board vice chair Katie Cristol told ARLnow that “our biggest obstacles are within the zoning ordinance in terms of the number of parking spaces required by childcare centers or the amount of indoor vs. outdoor space.”

No hearing date has yet been set for the case.

Photos No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 via Google Maps

by Chris Teale October 20, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A new pet store will celebrate its grand opening this weekend at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.

Kriser’s Natural Pet will open its seventh location in the area at 2501A N. Harrison Street. It replaces the former Dominion Pet Center, which closed last year after first opening in 1981.

The festivities, which include free pet nail trimming, raffles and giveaways, begin at 10 a.m. Saturday.

As of Friday morning, staff were putting the finishing touches on the store, which has pet toys, food, beds and health products among others. It also offers a grooming service for cats and dogs.

More from a Kriser’s press release:

Kriser’s Natural Pet, a specialty retailer focused on natural pet food, supplies and grooming, debuts its seventh location in the DMV Metro Area with a Grand Opening celebration on October 21st & 22nd in Arlington’s Lee Harrison Shopping Center at the corner of Lee Hwy and N. Harrison St.

“Kriser’s is thrilled to continue serving the pet parents of Arlington and to further our mission of helping pets in this vibrant community live a happy, healthy, natural lifestyle,” said Brad Kriser, founder & CEO. “Every day, we strive to provide pet parents with the best natural products, services and education to help care for their furry families. To have the opportunity to touch even more families in Arlington is an honor. We can’t wait to become a trusted resource and partner to more local pet parents.”

Kriser’s warm, welcoming shopping experience and highly educated staff are focused around a carefully curated selection of natural food, treats, toys, supplements and supplies from trusted brands that they feel good about recommending.  Kriser’s second location in Arlington will also offer grooming services by professional, caring groomers using natural products.

Kriser’s Lee Harrison location will offer a number of activities and promotions throughout the Grand Opening weekend:

  • Free pet nail trimming (Sat & Sun from 10am-4pm)
  • In-store raffles for store merchandise and grooming gift cards (Sat & Sun)
  • Free reusable shopping bags (Sat & Sun)
  • Free waste bag holders (Sat only)
  • Free engraved pet ID tags (Sun only)
  • Free can lids (Sun only)
  • Samples and product giveaways all weekend
  • PLUS Doorbuster raffles both Saturday and Sunday, whereby people in line each day at 10 a.m. will have the chance to win gift cards for on-the-spot shopping sprees.

Kriser’s will host another event on Saturday, December 12th to celebrate their first month, with free pet/ parent digital photo portraits, goodie bags for the first 50 pets and more raffles and prizes. For store events, hours and details, visit http://www.krisers.com.

by Chris Teale October 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A section of N. Cleveland Street off Lee Highway will be closed until this afternoon as crews make emergency repairs to a water main.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the repairs on the 1900 block of N. Cleveland Street in the North Highlands neighborhood are being made to a six-inch water main. The spokeswoman said the water for between 50 and 100 customers will be affected.

Repairs are expected to be completed by 3 p.m. The street is closed in the area, with a detour in place.

Photo via John B.

by Chris Teale September 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Police Department will participate in “National Coffee with a Cop Day” next week with an event in each of the county’s three police districts.

Officers will be on hand on Wednesday, October 4 to get to know community members, answer questions and listen to concerns.

“The Arlington County Police Department is committed to engaging with those we serve and effectively communicating to ensure the public’s trust,” organizers wrote. “Whether you live, work, or visit Arlington County, we hope you’ll join us to build strong community-based partnerships one cup of coffee at a time.”

The events will be held at the following locations:

  • Starbucks at Lee Heights (4526 Lee Highway): 9-11 a.m.
  • Starbucks at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street): 4-6 p.m.
  • Best Buns Bread Company at Shirlington Village (4010 Campbell Ave): 4-6 p.m.

by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A pet store and grooming center will replace a longtime seafood shop near the Lee Heights Shops, according to county permits.

American Seafood at 4550 Lee Highway closed on December 31 last year after nearly 35 years in business.

And while none of its signs have been removed yet, permits indicate that work will be done to completely renovate the building. County planning staff approved the business license for the new pet store on September 12.

The Lee Heights Shops have seen some turnover in recent times, with long-time local stores Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes and Lemon Twist closing late last year.

Lemon Twist was replaced by women’s clothing and accessories store Lemoncello Boutique. Bradshaw’s still has not been replaced.

by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

A new hotel replacing the former Colony House Furniture Store in Rosslyn is starting to take shape, several years after its approval by the Arlington County Board.

The Hilton Homewood Suites at 1700 Lee Highway will be eight stories high with 168 rooms. Below ground will be two levels of parking, containing 102 spaces. The Board approved the plan by developer B.F. Saul in 2013.

As of Tuesday, the hotel’s main structure appeared to be finished, with work continuing inside on the future guest rooms, parking garage, loading bay and front entrance area. The hotel is close to the Rosslyn Vue condo building, but the trees between the two properties act as a shield of sorts between them.

On a web page about the project, B.F. Saul said the hotel is “scheduled to open in the near future.” Representatives with the company did not respond to requests for additional comment.

B.F. Saul said guests can expect “a focus on comfort and functionality” in an extended-stay hotel designed to be “guests’ home away from home while in the DC region for business or pleasure.”

“Sustainability is at the forefront of its design, construction and operation,” the page reads. “The suites offer large work areas, well-appointed bathrooms, digital flat screen televisions, fully-equipped kitchens, and an upscale, yet warm, home-like décor. The hotel will feature 1,400 square feet of highly flexible meeting space, and a best-of-class, 1,100 square foot fitness facility with state of the art equipment. The hotel will also feature a pool, spa, trail bicycles, and an outdoor patio equipped with a gas fireplace and built-in grill.”

by Chris Teale September 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

A branch of Capital One Bank on Lee Highway is set to close later this year.

Multiple readers reported receiving letters from the bank at 5222 Lee Highway — its intersection with N. George Mason Drive — telling them the branch will close on November 18.

And a teller at the bank confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying that with another branch at 4700 Lee Highway, the company made the decision to consolidate its services at that location.

“We have another branch right down the street, so it just doesn’t make sense to have two so close together,” the teller said.

The bank is across the street from a strip mall — the Garden City Shopping Center — and a couple of blocks from the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. No word yet on what might replace the bank.

A company spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

by ARLnow.com August 25, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating an indecent exposure incident that happened in a rideshare vehicle Thursday morning.

A man exposed himself and masturbated during the “pool” ride, in view of a female passenger, around 9 a.m., according to an ACPD crime report. It was not immediately clear with which ride-hailing service the vehicle was associated; scanner traffic referred to it as both an Uber and a Lyft ride.

The driver stopped near the intersection of Lee Highway and Spout Run Parkway, and police were called, after the female passenger witnessed the suspect in the act. After the ride stopped the male passenger then got out of the car and fled the scene, police say.

The suspect is described as an Asian man “in his mid-20’s, with a partially grown out buzz cut, wearing a black t-shirt, dark blue shorts, with a black backpack.” Police searched the area but were unable to find him.

“The investigation is ongoing,” police said.

by ARLnow.com August 18, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

The Democrats running for Arlington County Board and the Virginia House of Delegates say they are united with the Board in its desire to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway.

Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and incumbent House of Delegates candidates Mark Levine, Patrick Hope, Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Alfonso Lopez praised the County Board’s stand. In a statement, an excerpt of which is below, all five applauded what they described as “a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry.”

The county will need to first obtain the legal authority to rename both stretches of state highway within its borders, an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. But the incumbents pledged to try to do so, so the county can choose “who in our history we want to honor and celebrate.”

Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board’s determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”

“It’s long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. “I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes.”

Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, “I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values.”

“Giving localities the authority to rename highways — like Jefferson Davis Highway — is long overdue,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), “This is not about erasing or trying to change history — indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue.”

“I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, ” said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more.”

by ARLnow.com August 17, 2017 at 5:25 pm 0

(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Arlington is thinking about renaming two state highways named after Confederate leaders, but needs authorization from the state legislature to do so, according to a statement released by the Arlington County Board late Thursday afternoon.

In the statement, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says the county is “united against racism and bigotry” in the wake of the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.

“Arlington rejects the hateful speech and actions of the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right movement,” the statement says. “We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward.”

The statement goes on to say that the county is seeking legislative authority to rename Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) and Lee Highway.

“Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries,” said the statement. “Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.”

Arlington’s ability to actually get the authority, however, is in serious doubt due to Republican majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. Arlington has previously placed authority for renaming Jefferson Davis Highway on its list of legislative priorities, to no avail.

Fisette notes that the renaming of Washington-Lee High School is also under consideration, but falls under the jurisdiction of the School Board.

The full statement is below.

The tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville, where three people lost their lives, has shaken the conscience of our community and of our nation.

The Arlington County Board condemns the act of domestic terrorism that cost Heather Heyer her life, and mourns her death and the deaths of the two Virginia State Police troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, who died in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the many who were injured that day.

As many yard signs across Arlington proclaim: “hate has no home here.”

It is appropriate, in the wake of the Charlottesville events, that our community and many others are reconsidering the public memorialization of Confederate leaders. This Board has received numerous letters from concerned residents pleading that these leaders of rebellion against the Union not be publicly memorialized – particularly noting Jefferson Davis Highway, Lee Highway and Washington-Lee High School.

Because we are a county, Arlington currently does not have the authority to rename state highways such as Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway. We do have the authority to name local roads, and we exercised it in 2012 to rename Old Jefferson Davis Highway as Long Bridge Drive.

Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries. Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.

Because it is a city, neighboring Alexandria controls all roadways within its borders. The City Council voted in September 2016 to rename its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and graciously included two Arlington residents in the advisory panel it formed to seek suggestions from the public for a new name. That panel will make a recommendation this fall, and the Alexandria City Council will act.

We expect that the name Alexandria selects will be suitable for our section of Jefferson Davis Highway as well. Anyone in Arlington who wants to suggest a new name for Jefferson Davis Highway can do so on the City of Alexandria’s website through September 25.

While we are not aware of any Confederate statues on County-owned land in Arlington, we support Governor McAuliffe’s recent proposal that all Virginia localities relocate Confederate statues in Virginia to museums, and be given the legal authority to do so.

Finally, the name of Washington-Lee High School and all other public schools in Arlington falls under the authority of the School Board. We know that the School Board will be speaking to this issue in the near future.

Although this is a painful time for us all, ultimately, Arlington’s story is an inspiring one of racial and social progress, of moving forward and overcoming the deep wounds inflicted by slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and the legacy of  segregation. Our past can never be erased, but we can and will continue to learn from it.

Arlington today is a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community that treats each individual with respect and champions human and civil rights.

We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward. Together, we will continue to strengthen the bonds that unite us.

Jay Fisette
Arlington County Board Chair, on behalf of the County Board

by Chris Teale August 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A local woman is appealing for witnesses to come forward after a driver struck her daughter while she rode her bicycle last week.

In a post on Facebook, reader Cynthia Hoftiezer said her teenage daughter was cycling near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive between 8:45 and 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 3.

Hoftiezer said a car turning right on a red light from Lee Highway onto N. George Mason Drive then struck her daughter and drove away without stopping. Via Facebook:

Please share: If anyone saw the car turn right on red from Lee Hwy to George Mason Dr. on Thursday morning 8/3 between 8:45 and 9 am, and strike my teenager on a bicycle, please call Arlington County police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222 referencing case no. 2017-08050186. While my daughter is ok, the driver did not stop.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed the details of the crash, and said that the victim “reported that the striking vehicle initially slowed following the crash but did not stop and continued south on George Mason Drive.”

Savage said the suspect vehicle is a white, four-door sedan.

Image via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale August 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

A local nonprofit that helps encourage at-risk children and their families to develop a love of reading will close next week after 28 years.

The Reading Connection, which has offices at 1501 Lee Highway near Rosslyn, will close its doors on Friday, August 11. It will hold its last “Read-Aloud,” where volunteers read to children at shelters and community centers, on Wednesday, August 9.

The nonprofit is dedicated to providing low-income children and their families with opportunities to read and be read to, as well as giving them free books when they might otherwise not have any.

Its volunteers held Read-Alouds at over a dozen locations — mostly apartment complexes — across the D.C. metropolitan area, including at Columbia Grove, New Hope Housing, The Shelton, The Springs, Sullivan House, Virginia Gardens and Woodbury Park in Arlington. Other locations are in Alexandria, Annandale, Bethesda and D.C.

The nonprofit’s director of program operations Stephanie Berman Hopkins announced the closure earlier today in an email to volunteers, which was obtained by ARLnow.com.

“I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading,” Berman Hopkins wrote. “The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.”

In the email, Berman Hopkins said The Reading Connection’s board of directors reviewed the organization and determined it is not financially viable. TRC’s annual budget was $600,000, according to its website.

Berman Hopkins and The Reading Connection’s executive director, Catherine Keightley, declined to comment on the review, citing privacy considerations for those involved, but Keightley said finding continued funding would have been too difficult.

“What lots of reports are telling us is that funding is going to become more challenging, I think locally and regionally,” she said in a brief interview. “There may be a shift in funding priorities given some of the actions with the new [presidential] administration.”

Prior to its closing The Reading Connection will hold a book and supply sale from Monday, August 7 until Wednesday, August 9.

The email to The Reading Connection volunteers is below, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale July 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Construction crews have demolished the Cherry Hill Apartments just off Lee Highway, and a new four-story building is set to replace it.

The three-story garden apartments at 2110-2120 N. Monroe Street in Cherrydale have been razed, as well as two single-family homes next door. The former building had 77 units and was built in 1961 near a Safeway grocery store.

Building permits filed with the county indicate that 79 trees have also been removed from the site. Currently, diggers are removing any remaining walls and buildings from the property ahead of clearing the ground.

In its place, property owner Dittmar will build a four-story apartment building with 93 units as a by-right development, meaning it does not require Arlington County Board approval.

Material advertising the former apartments touted them as a “quiet, garden style community” with direct bus service to the Rosslyn Metro station.

by ARLnow.com July 20, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Fairlington to Trap Raccoons — Following two well-publicized raccoon attacks in the past week, the Fairlington Villages condo association is taking action. In a letter to residents, the association says its Board of Directors has “authorized management to engage a wild animal control contractor to begin a program of trapping raccoons on the property.”

County Moves Forward on Fairfax Drive Ownership — “Arlington County wants to own State Route 237 (Fairfax Drive/10th St. North) from roughly Ballston to Courthouse. The County Board voted at its July 18, 2017 meeting to request that the Commonwealth transfer ownership of the stretch of road to Arlington.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Mulls Lee Highway Ownership — Now that it owns Columbia Pike and is requesting ownership of Fairfax Drive, should Arlington also consider asking VDOT for ownership of Lee Highway? “It’s an intriguing idea,” said one County Board member. [InsideNova]

Darbys Dish on Their Split — Even friends of Real Housewives of Potomac castmates Ashley and Michael Darby might not have suspected that the couple had split up before revealing it on a RHOP reunion show. The pair, who jointly own Oz restaurant in Clarendon, “still spend time together socially” but as of February both have separate apartments in Arlington. [Bravo]

Road Closures for 5K Race in Crystal City — The annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race will shut down parts of Crystal Drive, Long Bridge Drive and other adjacent roads Saturday night. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy “ARLnow Reader”

by ARLnow.com July 14, 2017 at 11:05 am 0

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) A march from the National Rifle Association in Fairfax to the Dept. of Justice in D.C. is expected to make its way through Arlington tonight.

A rally for the Women’s March from #NRA2DOJ got underway Friday morning outside of NRA headquarters and around 11:30 a.m. marchers embarked on their 18 mile journey. The march is intended to “denounce the false and intimidating rhetoric of the NRA and send a clear message that our movement will proudly and bravely continue to strive for the respect of the civil and human rights of all people.”

The march is expected to reach Arlington in the late afternoon or early evening. It will head down Lee Highway before entering the District via Rosslyn and the Key Bridge.

While road closures are planned in D.C., police say that none are planned in Arlington, as marchers are expected to stay on sidewalks.

“Arlington County Police will be on scene and will monitor for any impacts,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The county’s Office of Emergency Management, however, said “there is a potential for traffic disruption” along the march route so drivers should “consider alternate routes.”

https://twitter.com/womensmarch/status/885861601345142784

Photo (top) via Twitter

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