Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

New Census Population Estimate — “Arlington’s estimated population was up 14.4 percent from 2010 to 2018, more than double the increase statewide and nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal government’s recently released guesstimate of Arlington’s population as of July 1, 2018, stood at 237,521, up about 1 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Fraudster’s Arlington Home Sold — “The Arlington home of real estate developer Todd Hitt — who pleaded guilty in February to eight counts of fraud — has found a buyer, according to court documents. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, approved the $1.3 million sale of the 5,500-square-foot house on North Kensington Street.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Working With MoCo on DCA Noise Study — “Arlington government officials plan to formalize their agreement with leaders in Montgomery County, Md., to fund a study on the northerly aircraft departure route out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The County Board plans to ante up half the projected cost for a consultant, with the Montgomery County Council putting up the other half.” [InsideNova]

County Proposes New Development Review Fee — “Arlington County staff is proposing a new fee for the acceptance and review of conceptual site plan applications, a process through which developers can get input on their projects before their formal submission.” [Washington Business Journal]

0 Comments

Crews have been cutting down trees along I-395 to make room for sound-mitigating walls expected to help buffer noise from expanding the highway’s HOV lanes.

Drivers may notice construction crews clear cutting trees and brush along I-395 where large new concrete wall panels are being set up.

The walls are being built because officials expect more traffic to result from their two-year project extending I-395’s Express Lanes through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. border.

The eight-mile, $475 million project converts two HOV lanes to HOT lanes, and adds a third HOT lane, between Turkeycock Run at Edsall Road to Eads Street near the Pentagon and is scheduled to finish later this year. The construction is taking place within the highway’s existing right-of-way.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contracted Australia-based toll company Transurban to build and operate the project. VDOT directed ARLnow’s requests for comment about tree removal to Transurban.

Transurban spokesman Michael McGurk acknowledged residents may be upset about losing the trees, but the company”takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal” and is “committed to adding landscaping” along the walls.

McGurk also noted that the company is giving grants to communities for new tree planting or “other beautification projects” and that neighborhood can apply for a grant by March 31. He also said the wall construction is “on time and on budget” with southbound walls scheduled to be completed this summer, and northbound walls expected next spring.

The construction of the walls was preceded by a community outreach. In 2017, wall contractor AECOM polled residents who lived near I-395 in the Fairlington neighborhood if they wanted sound walls built to mitigate noise from the highway. The vote came at the same time the Fairlington Civic Association (FCA) wrote that its residents were concerned that the proposed 25-foot walls required 10 feet of clearance on both sides, likely necessitating tree removal.

The HOT lane expansion has been touted as a way to increase revenue for other local infrastructure upgrades, with Transburan pledging to pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions for projects like renovating bridges and re-doing the Pentagon’s south parking lot.

Read Transurban’s complete comment below:

The project team takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal. We know how much the community cherishes the tree canopy and how important the trees are to our environment. VDOT and the 395 project team has committed to adding landscaping in identified areas along sound walls. And, Transurban, the operator of the 395 Express Lanes, has provided many of the neighborhoods along the corridor a grant to plant trees or to pay for other beautification projects. We invite any neighborhood in the 395 corridor to apply for one of our quarterly grants… The next deadline is March 31st.

0 Comments

Arlington residents can expect a special morning wake-up this week as a U.S. Army regiment begins its annual cannon fire training.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall announced that the Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, a.k.a. the “Old Guard,” will begin firing off blank rounds in the Arlington National Cemetery between 7-8 a.m. on Thursday.

Joint Base community relations officer Leah Rubalcaba told ARLnow that the training will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m. “going forward” but that there isn’t a scheduled end date because it depends on how long it takes to train the platoon.

Residents in Radnor-Fort Myer Heights, Foxcroft Heights, Columbia Heights, Aurora Heights and Pentagon City have previously reported being able to hearing the sounds, which they described as “pounding,” “banging,” “booming,” or “explosion.” The booming sound has been reported in neighborhoods even farther away, depending on weather conditions.

During the training, teams work together to fire howitzers and 21-gun volleys. The goal is to time the shots with a ceremony or song, but the guns were not always ceremonial, according to the platoon’s website.

The platoon is equipped with ten M5, 75mm antitank cannons mounted on the M6 howitzer carriage. Each gun weighs 5,775 pounds. The M5 cannon saw service in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe from 1943 until the end of World War II. Today, the Presidential Salute Battery fires the 75mm blank ceremonial shell with 1.5 pounds of powder….

Ceremonies require a five-man staff and a two-man team for each gun. The staff consists of the Battery Commander, who initiates fire commands and ensures the proper number of rounds is fired; the Sergeant of the Watch, who marches the battery into position, controls the firing of the backup gun, and monitors the watchman and his assistant; the Watchman controls the timing between rounds and gives the command to fire; the more experienced Assistant Watchman ensures the Watchman stays in time; and the Counter, counts the rounds and signals the last round to the battery.

Rubalcaba wrote in email Monday that the Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon conducts the training in preparation for firing the cannons “at ceremonies in honor of the President of the United States, for visiting foreign dignitaries, during official government ceremonies, regional celebrations… and while rendering honors during the funeral services of our nation’s fallen service members and veterans.”

Rubalcaba said the training sessions will each end prior to the cemetery’s visiting hours.

0 Comments

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and other D.C.-area lawmakers are pressing for a new study of helicopter noise in the area, a persistent concern for many Arlingtonians living near the county’s copious military installations.

Beyer and four of his Democratic colleagues sent a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office Monday (Jan. 28) calling for an examination of everything from which helicopters tend to make the most noise to which neighborhoods military aircraft pass over most frequently.

“Many of our constituents live with the impacts of regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake and negatively impacts their quality of life,” the members of Congress wrote. “While disturbances from helicopter noise have been a longstanding problem for some, others have noted recent increases in the frequency and severity of helicopter noise in their neighborhoods.”

Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and David Trone (D-Md.) joined Beyer in writing the letter.

In all, they argue that “information collection, analysis and coordination” will help lawmakers “identify strategies to minimize the negative impacts of helicopter activity without impeding the work of the agencies operating helicopters within the region.”

Other points they’d like to see the agency investigate include “the frequency of flights over neighborhoods, including information on each agency operating helicopters, the times of flight and flight altitude; the number of flights that occur during the day and at night” and “the altitude at which helicopters currently fly within the Washington metropolitan area today compared to the altitude at which helicopters operated within the Washington metropolitan area in the past.”

The lawmakers are also looking to learn more about “degree of coordination that currently exists among the various government and non-governmental entities operating helicopters” in the region, in order to improve efforts to cut back on noise. Beyer has previously proposed similar efforts aimed at increasing that collaboration, including a “working group” that would’ve included both local officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense.

Beyer has certainly raised the issue plenty of times since winning office for the first time in 2014, and has also pressured the DOD to pursue other studies of helicopter noise, or even to simply fly its helicopters at higher altitudes to reduce noise complaints.

However, many of those efforts have been stymied by Republican leaders, who have long controlled the House of Representatives — Beyer is cautiously optimistic that the new Democratic majority will be more sympathetic to his concerns.

Beyer and his colleagues are hoping to get an answer on this latest request for a study within the next month or so.

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

0 Comments

As President Trump weighs the extraordinary step of declaring a national emergency to unilaterally build a wall along the southern border, Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is urging Trump to return to the negotiating table and put federal employees back to work.

Like any member of Congress representing the D.C. suburbs, Beyer is no great fan of government shutdowns, which threaten the livelihoods of thousands of constituents in his Arlington and Alexandria-area district. But this latest, 18-day shutdown (now the second longest in the country’s history) is testing Beyer’s patience more than most.

He can’t understand what Trump hopes to achieve with his demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, or why he’s worked with Congressional Republicans to shutter the government while this latest immigration debate plays out. Unlike some of his Democratic colleagues, Beyer feels there’s room to negotiate on the issue — but he remains puzzled by the president’s refusal to engage on the matter.

“I know Donald Trump didn’t write the ‘Art of the Deal,’ but he may not have read it either,” Beyer told ARLnow. “I don’t think Democrats are against spending $5 billion more on border security, but let’s work hard on the language to make sure it turns into something that actually makes a difference, rather than something that’s a campaign symbol… Maybe I spent too many years as an auto dealer, but I’m always looking for a win-win scenario.”

Beyer believes that Democrats in Congress could well be open to reviving the outlines of a bipartisan immigration deal hashed out among leaders last year, exchanging new funding for border security for new protections for people previously protected from deportation under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Yet Trump and other immigration hardliners in his party scuttled that arrangement the last time Congress squared off over the issue, and Beyer doesn’t see much reason for optimism this time around.

Furthermore, Beyer sees Trump’s intimations that he could use his emergency powers as president to bypass Congress and build the wall as “frightening.” Such an effort would undoubtedly face court challenges, as experts agree that there is no migration crisis currently afflicting the country, but speculation abounds that Trump could make an emergency declaration during his televised address from the White House tonight.

“It just ratchets up the tension and dissension far more than is appropriate,” Beyer said. “If the wall was so important, why did it take two whole years into his presidency before he put it into an appropriations bill? This is no national emergency.”

But should the shutdown continue, Beyer says his newly empowered colleagues in the House plan to “make it as easy as possible to open the government back up.” Starting today (Tuesday), he says Speaker Nancy Pelosi will begin calling votes on bills to reopen one federal agency at a time.

That way, Beyer hopes that some important staffers — like those at the IRS preparing to mail out tax returns — could get back to work, even as the immigration debate drags on.

And that sort of tack would also allow many of Beyer’s constituents to start earning paychecks again.

He says he’s heard from thousands of federal workers, both in the D.C. area and around the country, who are suffering due to financial insecurity stemming from the shutdown. To that end, Beyer managed to help pass language to protect back pay for affected employees through the House, but fears Trump wouldn’t sign off on the change, even if it clears the Senate.

Beyer’s also backing efforts to secure pay for some federal contractors, as are Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.).

“Many people go into federal service because they cherish the idea of public service,” Beyer said. “No one does it for the money. The security is one of the small benefits. Or, at least, it used to be.”

Yet Beyer feels the shutdown is doing more than just unnecessarily squeezing his constituents — he believes its distracting Congress from other pressing priorities, particularly as Democrats regain control of the House for the first time in years.

Whenever Congress can return to normal business, Beyer thinks there is room for some agreement on bills he’s backing around issues like suicide prevention and wildlife conservation.

But he is cognizant of the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate, to say nothing of Trump’s veto pen, will limit how much he can actually pass over the next two years. That’s why he’s more enthusiastic about the new oversight powers Democrats gain now that they’re chairing House committees.

Beyer helped lead investigations into former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s conduct in office, and was one of Pruitt’s leading congressional critics before he resigned under a cloud of scandal. But Beyer is no great fan of Pruitt’s replacement, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist.

Accordingly, he sees plenty of room for more EPA oversight now that Democrats will wield expanded investigatory power, though he did sound a note of caution on the topic.

“It’s really important that oversight be genuine oversight, focused on things not going well in the executive branch rather than political witch hunts,” Beyer said. “There are lots of legitimate, responsible things we can do in oversight to just make America a better country, and we can do it with Republicans.”

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders will also command more control over the federal budget, and that gives Beyer hope for progress on one of his other big priorities: solving the vexing problem of aircraft noise in Arlington.

Beyer previously proposed budget amendments directing the Federal Aviation Administration to tinker with the flight paths of military helicopters and create a new website to allow people to report aircraft noise complaints. Yet both of those failed to gain any traction under Republican leadership, and he’s holding out hope to make progress on these “two good legislative investments” in the coming months.

“With people like [Majority Leader and Maryland Rep.] Steny Hoyer in control, he’s a D.C. resident, I’m much more optimistic that we will the have power to make a difference on this,” Beyer said.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Chamber Backs Amazon Incentives — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has provided its formal stamp of approval, supporting the planned Arlington County government incentive package for Amazon. The package ‘will have positive benefits for the Arlington community as a whole,’ the business organization said.” [InsideNova]

New County Finance Director Appointed — “Maria Meredith has been named Arlington County’s new Director of the Department of Management and Finance (DMF), effective January 14, 2019. She will be responsible for approximately 50 staff involved in the County’s financial operations, including management and budget, accounting, purchasing and real estate assessment.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Road Project Recognized — “We’re ready to announce the winners of our highest honor of the year — the 2018 Streetsie Award for Best Urban Street Redesign. Our readers weighed in and chose… Arlington, which received more than 1,000 votes for its road diet/protected bike lane project on Veitch Street.” [StreetsBlog]

Local Startup Struggling to Pay Bills — “Trustify, the Arlington company that provides private investigation services through digital platforms, has had trouble making payroll since October and is in arrears to its landlord and several other vendors, according to at least five employees who recently left the company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Button for Filing Air Noise Complaints — Residents in Maryland, Northwest D.C. and elsewhere have a new tool for filing complaints about noise from Reagan National Airport air traffic: a converted Amazon Dash button that does the heavy lifting of filing complaints with aviation authorities. [Washington Post]

‘Floss-Cutting’ Ceremony for Dental Clinic — “The Arlington Free Clinic recently celebrated completion of a $1.5 million fund-raising drive to support construction and outfitting of a dental facility to support those in need across Arlington. The capital campaign, which was launched by support from longtime volunteer and donor Mary Mellon (whose father died of a tooth infection he could not afford to treat when she was a teen), will allow the clinic to triple the number of dental patients it can serve.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

0 Comments

Amazon may be bringing thousands of new workers and a spate of new businesses right to the doorstep of Reagan National Airport, but don’t expect to start hearing too many more planes soaring over Arlington anytime soon.

At least, that’s the word from county leaders, airport officials and the airlines themselves. Despite the tech giant setting up shop right across from the airport in the newly dubbed “National Landing,” all parties involved believe that DCA is a bit too crowded to start welcoming passengers bound for the new headquarters.

“We’re really a constrained airport in terms of size, gate availability and runway capacity,” Andrew Trull, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, told ARLnow. “We just are not anticipating more flights heading toward Reagan.”

The potential for an increase in aircraft noise is just one of many concerns raised by county residents in the wake of Amazon’s big announcement last month, particularly because people in a variety of Arlington neighborhoods have already complained of planes bound for DCA keeping them awake at night. Reagan has also seen a surge in traffic in recent years, prompting all manner of county officials to try and take action on the issue.

But Trull points out that DCA is one of several airports around the country where the Federal Aviation Administration closely regulates how many planes pass through each year, a process known as “slot control.”

That leaves it up to Congress to determine if DCA is even allowed to welcome more aircraft in the first place, likely through an appropriations bill for the FAA. Lawmakers just passed the first such funding “reauthorization” legislation for the agency in six years this fall, and United Airlines spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs points out that Congress “rejected any changes to this important rule” governing air traffic limits at DCA in the new bill.

While Gibbs added that she believes United is “uniquely positioned to serve these communities as they capitalize on the exciting opportunities that are headed their way,” she also didn’t have any service changes to announce.

Spokespeople for both Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines, another pair of carriers offering a bevy of flights between DCA and Amazon’s Seattle home, also said the companies weren’t planning any service increases at this time. Representatives for the other airlines serving DCA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

However, that’s not to say that Amazon’s arrival won’t prompt any changes at National. Though the number of flights may not increase in the coming years, Trull said it is possible that airlines could start flying larger planes into DCA to keep pace with rising demand.

For instance, airlines could replace smaller, regional jets on certain routes with much larger planes instead, a change that Trull says would be allowed under the “slot” rules.

“We could see an increase in capacity without an increase in the number of flights,” Trull said.

Executives with American Airlines have even begun publicly discussing such a possibility in recent days, and kicked off discussions with Amazon officials about which routes employees might start choosing as the company moves to Arlington.

Of course, Trull notes that any airline looking to expand at National should consider that airport was designed to serve 15 million passengers a year, but currently welcomes about 24 million annually. That’s helped prompt the airport’s major “Project Journey” renovations, which will ultimately eliminate the infamous regional gate “35X” in favor of new, dedicated space for those flights.

“A lot of people are wondering if it will add capacity, but the answer is ‘No,'” Trull said. “We see it as an improvement to the passenger experience… because we’re already dealing with so many people.”

Instead, the biggest beneficiary of Amazon’s arrival may well be National’s sister airport: Dulles International.

Trull points out that the MWAA has specifically worked to make Dulles “more competitive” in recent years, including major renovations to the airport and the (still ongoing) extension of Metro’s Silver Line to reach Dulles. Accordingly, he sees the Loudoun airport as the region’s “primary growth airport with upside potential” now that Amazon is in town.

Gibbs adds that Dulles will indeed be the main place that United ramps up service in the coming years, particularly because it offers international flights that will likely be attractive to a global company like Jeff Bezos’ bunch.

“One of the criteria Amazon raised with us was the proximity to the airport, but also to the two other airports in this region, with that benefit of global accessibility specifically,” Alex Iams, assistant director of Arlington Economic Development, said during a Dec. 6 question-and-answer session on Amazon.

Yet Arlington still seems set to benefit from Amazon-related visitors in one key way: new hotel bookings. Even if the tech company’s staffers won’t be spurring a flurry of new business at National, county officials do project that many visitors will opt to stay near the new headquarters.

In fact, they’ve even structured the county’s incentive package for Amazon around that expectation — Arlington plans to hand the company grant money that will be drawn solely from any increase the county sees in hotel tax revenues.

“We’re going to be seeing between 125,000 and 150,000 hotel nights coming into the market each year,” said Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development. “I talk to our hotel owners and they’re delighted, they can’t believe it.”

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

0 Comments

If it sounds like World War II in Arlington tonight, there’s a good explanation for why.

The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will be firing off massive World War II-era anti-tank guns on Fort Myer between 6-8 p.m., according to the base’s public affairs office. Up to 84 rounds will be fired in order to “obtain audio recordings of the cannon fire.”

Arlington residents can expect to hear the barrage, though the exact neighborhoods where such artillery fire is most audible varies depending on weather conditions.

More from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall:

Esteemed Arlington County Neighbors,

Please be advised that there will be blank cannon fire on the Fort Myer side of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 14.  The cannon fire will be shot from four 5,775-pound WWII-era anti-tank guns used during ceremonial events on base and in the region.  Members from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery will be firing up to 84 rounds at random intervals during this two-hour window.  The reason for tonight’s cannon fire is so that the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” can obtain audio recordings of the cannon fire for use at upcoming performances when it isn’t feasible to have the actual guns present.

For additional information, please call the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Public Affairs Office at 703-696-2976.

Thank you.

Update at 2:35 p.m. — The cannon fire is now scheduled between 5 and 6:15 p.m.

We just received word that the hours for the blank cannon fire scheduled for this evening at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall were moved back – now to take place from 5 to 6:15 p.m.  While we hope that this last minute change does not cause any confusion, the good news is that the cannon fire will not occur so late in the evening.  There will still be 84 rounds of cannon fire that will take place between 5 and 6:15 p.m.

Photo via Facebook

0 Comments

The Westover Market and Beer Garden will still be able to offer outdoor amplified music after striking a new deal with county officials, offering a compromise to placate neighbors who remain concerned about the noise emanating from the establishment.

The County Board unanimously agreed to revamped permit requirements for the popular beer garden Saturday (Oct. 20), stipulating that musicians at the restaurant will only be able to play amplified music outside until 9 p.m. on Fridays, one hour short of the current 10 p.m. limit. The Board is also requiring the restaurant to submit a modified “sound management plan” by this coming March.

County staff originally urged the Board to ban all amplified music at the beer garden, arguing that the restaurant had repeatedly violated its noise limits and elicited a number of complaints from people living in the residential neighbors surrounding the location at 5863 Washington Blvd. The beer garden has drawn all manner of county scrutiny in recent years, from its noise levels to its compliance with county permit regulations.

Yet the restaurant’s owners offered to limit outdoor music on the weekends as a middle-ground solution, and it was one the Board happily accepted.

“The Board recognizes that the Westover Beer Garden is a popular gathering spot for the neighborhood,” Board Chair Katie Cristol wrote in a statement. “But it also is close to homes. Arlington’s mixed-use neighborhoods, where we sometimes have commercial uses very close to homes, depend on everyone following the rules to work. By reducing the hours for amplified outdoor music, the Board is seeking to address the violation, while also giving the beer garden a path forward to comply with the conditions of its use permit.”

Several beer garden patrons spoke in support of the restaurant Saturday, noting that noise in the parking lot of the restaurant’s shopping center would often rise to the same level as the decibel limits set on the restaurant by the county. The beer garden has the distinction of being the only establishment in Arlington with an “outdoor live entertainment use permit,” according to the county, and its supporters argued that it’s generally abided by the permit’s strictures over the years.

“There are some things you have to accept as part of a big picture with wherever you live,” Dee Doyle told the Board. “There’s some noise, but that’s part of the bargain… The benefits of this business vastly outweigh any negatives.”

The Westover and Tara-Leeway Heights civic associations both urged the Board to maintain the beer garden’s live music permissions, and the restaurant’s backers argued that only a few disgruntled neighbors were complaining about the noise generated by the establishment. According to a new county staff report prepared for the meeting, county police received 12 calls about noise at the restaurant between April and October, but 75 percent of those calls came from the same two households.

But Thomas McCall, who lives near the restaurant, argued that people living on both sides of Washington Blvd have come together to protest the beer garden’s disruptions. He viewed the depiction of his fellow neighbors as “selfish” for complaining as a frustrating one, noting that he felt the neighborhood had tried to work with the restaurant in good faith on the issue.

“This permit modification allows the music to continues, allows the the patrons to continue to enjoy the beer garden, and alleviates the problems for nearby neighbors,” McCall told the Board.

Yet Bill Lawson, an attorney for the beer garden, argued that “if these guys can’t have amplified music, there’s just no point” in offering live entertainment outside at all.

“If you complain often enough and loud enough, you might succeed in shutting this business down,” Lawson said.

He offered the reduced hours as one way to address the issue, and added that owners David and Devin Hicks would also be willing to offer an independent “ombudsman” to monitor noise levels on a regular basis.

The Board was eager to sign off on that compromise, though many members expressed consternation that the issues at the beer garden have so frequently required their mediation.

“We want to build community, but at the same time, as we grow and change, if people have a nice home and a nice situation, we need to make sure they suddenly don’t hear a lot of music where they live,” said Board member Libby Garvey.

The Board will review the beer garden’s permits once more next October.

 

0 Comments

Arlington officials could soon tell the Westover Beer Garden to turn down the volume, with a new round of bickering over live music at the restaurant set to go before the County Board this weekend.

County staff believe musicians at the Westover Market and Beer Garden, located at 5863 Washington Blvd, have gotten a bit too loud on Friday and Saturday nights in recent weeks. With the restaurant’s live music permit up for review once more, they’re recommending that the Board restrict the beer garden from offering any “amplified music” at its outdoor patio for the foreseeable future.

Staff argue in a report prepared for the Board that doing so would “mitigate noise impacts on the surrounding neighborhood,” but add that the beer garden’s owners disagree with that characterization.

This is far from the first dispute over the restaurant’s outdoor seating area, which has frequently attracted scrutiny from county zoning officials. Arlington even briefly barred the beer garden from welcoming live music outdoors in 2010, before lifting its ban a few years later.

Yet, over the last few months, staff wrote that zoning officials warned the restaurant that music was exceeding the agreed-upon decibel limits for the outdoor space. They added that several neighbors had called police to complain about the noise, particularly in June, though those calls all came in before 9 p.m., the time limit imposed by county permits for the beer garden to cut off loud music.

The staff report added that some neighbors have already contacted the county to support the restaurant, reasoning that a ban on amplified music would be “a more balanced approach than revoking the use permit completely.” Westover would still be allowed to offer live, un-amplified music both indoors and outdoors under the terms of the proposed permit arrangement.

The Board is set to review this matter at its meeting Saturday (Oct. 20).

Photo via Facebook

0 Comments

(Updated at 11:45 a.m) Arlington is teaming up with some of its neighbors to the north to somehow find a solution to the persistent problem of aircraft noise generated by Reagan National Airport.

County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt announced last Friday (June 1) that Arlington and Montgomery County, Maryland have agreed to both chip in funds for a consultant to study the issue starting this year.

The Board members wrote in an email that the study’s goal is “to quantify the noise impacts on our community, to determine what specifically is driving the increase in those impacts in recent years and to identify and evaluate all actions that could reasonably be taken to reduce and mitigate them.”

“Despite what look like promising recommendations for operations south of the airport, the fact remains that we do not appear to be any closer to a solution today for those communities north of the airport than we were when this effort was initiated,” Garvey and Vihstadt wrote. “It is our hope that this study will result in concrete recommendations to achieve the county’s and the region’s goal of reducing aircraft noise where possible and to equitably share it where necessary.”

County leaders have been wrestling with the issue of aircraft noise for years now, particularly as National recorded a spike in air traffic in recent years. Nearby residents have become particularly perturbed by the noise as the airport adjusted flight patterns in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s “NextGen” modernization initiative for the air traffic system in 2014.

“We continue to hear loud and clear from our residents that the noise impacts have worsened significantly since this action and have had a substantial negative impact on their quality of life,” Garvey and Vihstadt wrote.

Arlington and Montgomery County residents are not the only ones grappling with the issue. Some residential portions of Northwest D.C. have encountered an increase in noise since NextGen was implemented a few years ago, leading one District resident to file thousands of noise complaints over the course of one year.

The county has worked with the FAA on the issue since October 2015, through the “DCA Community Working Group,” and the Board members say they’ll send the results of this new study to that group once it’s wrapped up. They plan to update the community on a timetable for the study in the comings weeks, and work is set to kick off with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) also recently proposed a series of amendments to the new FAA reauthorization bill to address the issue.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list