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by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Military helicopter landing at the PentagonRep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is continuing his fight against helicopter noise in the D.C. area.

Following up on frequent resident complaints, last month Beyer added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act “to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and even the types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”

A letter sent today to Defense Secretary Ash Carter by Beyer and other local members of Congress notes that the bill directs the Defense Department to work with the FAA “to develop recommendations for the reduction of military helicopter noise, taking into account the operational needs of the military while offering residents a much-needed reprieve.”

The letter expresses concern about the noise while offering “to support your outreach to communities to ensure the DOD and the FAA receive the most comprehensive information regarding the effects of military helicopter noise.”

The full letter, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Bikes for sale in the Barcroft neighborhood (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Is Aircraft Noise Getting Worse? — Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak has taken up the issue of aircraft noise complaints in Arlington. Some residents say the noise has gotten worse recently, particularly with more helicopters and tilt-rotor V-22 Ospreys overhead. So far, the Dept. of Defense has not explained the purpose of the numerous Osprey flights. [Washington Post]

Amish Super PAC Has HQ in Clarendon — A political action committee that’s trying to convince the Amish to vote for Donald Trump this fall has its headquarters in Clarendon. [Quartz]

Arlington Honored as ‘Walk Friendly Community’ — Arlington has again been honored as a Gold-level Walk Friendly Community. Arlington is one of 15 communities nationwide to achieve the gold rating. [Arlington County]

‘Whimsical’ Old Victorian Farmhouse For Sale — A “whimsical” Queen Anne-style Victorian home that dates back to 1881 is on the market for $1.3 million. The home, in Arlington’s Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, was the setting of a notable children’s novel, among other distinctions. [Washington Post]

InsideNova Implements New Ads? — InsideNova, the web home of the Arlington Sun Gazette, appears to be running 30 second video ads that cannot be closed with each new page view. That’s what ARLnow.com encountered this morning; it’s unclear if that is happening for every user. InsideNova content was previously placed behind a paywall, which has since been quietly removed. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — May 12, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Southwest Airlines flight over the 14th Street Bridge (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Zoning Board Rules in Favor of Gun Store — Arlington Board of Zoning Appeals has rejected a challenge to the Certificate of Occupancy for Nova Firearms, the gun store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. A group of residents filed the appeal, claiming that the store’s owner submitted false information to the county. [Daily Caller]

Complaints About Aircraft Noise in Barcroft — Residents of Arlington’s Barcroft neighborhood are organizing a working group to address the issue of aircraft noise, particularly noise from low-flying helicopters. [Chamandy.org]

Another IRS Phone Scam — Arlington residents are reporting yet another phone scam. If someone calls you out of the blue, says they’re from the IRS and tries to get you to reveal personal information, it’s probably a scam. [WJLA]

New Leader for Arlington Arts Center — Holly Koons McCullough has been named the new executive director of the Arlington Arts Center. Previously, McCullough served as director of the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Washington City Paper]

New Director of Transportation for APS — The Arlington School Board has approved the appointment of Angel Garcia-Ablanque as the school system’s new Director of Transportation. He was previously Assistant Director of Transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Fundraiser at Celtic HouseCeltic House (2500 Columbia Pike) is holding a fundraiser for two veterans organizations today. The Irish pub, an ARLnow.com advertiser, will be donating a portion of all sales today to Wings for Warriors and Links to Freedom.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — May 11, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Former Mazda dealership in Ballston, now closed

Firings at Peter Chang After Receipt Incident — Three employees have reportedly been fired and the chef’s own daughter is also on the chopping block at Peter Chang restaurant along Lee Highway. The firings come after a server included the insults “i have a small penis” and “im a plad [sic] a**hole” on a customer receipt. Chang has promised to improve service at his restaurant. [Washington Post]

Arlington Restaurants on Cheap Eats List — More than a dozen Arlington eateries have been included in Washingtonian magazine’s list of the top 100 inexpensive restaurants in the D.C. area. Among them: Bayou Bakery, Cheesetique, Pupatella, Ray’s Hell Burger, Yona and Peter Chang. [Washingtonian]

Video of Track Issue at Court House Station — A video taken inside the Court House Metro station shows sparks and smoldering from the track area. The video comes after a number of well-publicized electrical issues at Metro. “It was kind of weird watching infrastructure fail before my very eyes,” said the man who took the video. [Washington Post]

Tech Company Saves the Day for Theft VictimsCourse Hero, a Silicon Valley-based company that provides study materials, has paid for a scholarship for the Penn State student whose mom left her purse, with $10,000 in tuition money inside, in an Arlington Falls Church Dunkin Donuts. Police still have not found the woman who stole the purse. [NBC Washington]

Most of Crystal City Could Change Hands — Vornado, the property owner that owns more than half of the square footage in Crystal City, is considering spinning off its D.C. properties from those it owns in New York. [Washington Post]

D.C. Complaining About DCA Flights — D.C.’s attorney general has sent an email to the FAA asking that flights to and from Reagan National Airport be shifted away from the District. In 2015 the FAA received 8,670 noise complaints from those in the District, 6,500 of them from the same person. [Washington Post]

by ARLnow.com — April 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm 0

Police car (file photo)A delivery driver was arrested in the Ballston area Saturday morning and charged with assaulting police and a local residents.

The incident started around 6:45 a.m., when a resident on the 700 block of N. Tazewell Street started filming the driver and called police with a noise complaint, all as part of “an ongoing dispute [regarding] the time of deliveries.”

A verbal dispute between the resident and the driver ensued, leading the driver to punch the resident in the face, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

When police arrived, the driver was confrontational and struck at least one officer, Savage said. From and ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT ON POLICE, 160423017, 700 block of N. Tazewell Street. At approximately 6:48 a.m. on April 23, officers were dispatched to a noise complaint regarding an ongoing dispute between the time of deliveries. The victim was recording the incident when they were struck in the face by the subject. The subject became combative when officers arrived on scene but subsequently was taken into custody. Roderick Watt, 41, of Wilkes Barre Pa, was charged with assault on police (2 counts), obstruction of justice, and assault and battery. He was held on a secured bond.

A second incident of an assault on police happened later that night, in the Nauck neighborhood, according to the crime report.

ASSAULT ON POLICE, 160423049, 2400 block of S. 24th Road. At approximately 10:42 p.m. on April 23, officers conducted a traffic stop in regards to a suspended license. During the stop, the passenger became combative, pushed an officer to the ground, and fled on foot. Officers were able to apprehend Justin Murray, 31, of Alexandria VA. He was charged with assault on police, obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana(second offense), and failure to identify to law enforcement. He is being held without bond.

Also Saturday night, according to police, two drunk men were arrested after they both grabbed the buttocks of a woman and then started fighting. The incident started as all three were leaving an establishment near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The men were both charged with sexual battery and being drunk in public, according to the crime report.

SEXUAL BATTERY, 160423043, 4800 block of S. Columbia Pike. At approximately 9:40 p.m. on April 23, officers responded to the area for reports of two males fighting. When officers arrived on scene a female advised that her buttocks was grabbed by both suspects. . Carlos Rivas Martinez, 22, of Arlington VA, was charged with sexual battery and drunk in public. He was held on an unsecured bond. Lorenzo Rivas Martinez, 20, of Arlington VA, was charged with sexual battery and drunk in public. He was held on a secured bond.

by ARLnow.com — March 10, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Tree blossoms in Lyon Park

Police Seek Witness in Pentagon City Investigation — Arlington County Police are trying to find a witness who rendered aid to an injured man found face down in the street in Pentagon City. The incident happened around 9:30 p.m. on February 25, on the 1200 block of S. Eads Street. The 65-year-old man remains in critical but stable condition. [Arlington County]

Group Forms to Oppose Gun StoreUpdated at 11:05 a.m. — A group called Act4LyonPark has formed to oppose NOVA Armory, the gun store that’s planning to open on March 26 at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. So far, Act4LyonPark has raised $6,300 to support its activities. The group says that in a recent vote, 88 percent of residents who responded voted for the Lyon Park Citizens Association to take an official stance against the gun shop.

Board to Consider Relaxed Historic Rules for Schools — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote Saturday on a proposal to make it easier for Arlington Public Schools to make changes to schools within local historic districts. The proposal would remove schools from the oversight of the county’s rigid Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board. Facing a school capacity crunch, APS says going through HALRB adds unnecessary delays and costs to projects. [InsideNova]

One Person Filed 6,500 Noise Complaints Against DCA — A single individual is responsible for 6,500 of the 8,670 noise complaints filed against Reagan National Airport last year, according to the airports authority. [WTOP]

Chamber Savors Hotel Tax Victory — With Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge reinstated, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is celebrating a long-awaited legislative victory. “Reinstating Arlington’s [Transient Occupancy Tax] was the Chamber’s top priority for the 2016 legislative session, with the funds generated by the additional TOT providing much needed support to ensure that Arlington remains competitive in attracting leisure and business travel,” said Chamber president and CEO Kate Roche. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Musician Wins Songwriting Award — Arlington’s Justin Jones has won the $10,000 grand prize from a local songwriting competition in Bethesda. [Instagram]

by Jennifer Currier — December 21, 2015 at 5:10 pm 0

Military helicopter landing at the Pentagon

In the first community meeting dedicated to discussing helicopter operations and noise in Arlington, residents found their concerns stuck between federal air traffic regulations and required military practices throughout the metro area.

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey hosted the meeting last Wednesday night as part of an ongoing effort to hear and address resident concerns about noise pollution, specifically near Reagan National Airport.

The meeting’s panel included representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the military, including the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

“It’s definitely our intent to fly friendly and to support the local community as much as possible,” Colonel Timothy Brown said at the meeting. Brown is a Commander in the U.S. Army Air Operations Group.

“This is a great feedback opportunity for us to take lessons and really work on training and communicating with our pilots so that everyone is able to support this goal as much as we can within the restraints of the airspace that we’re operating in,” he added.

However, as residents and representatives from neighborhoods closest to the airport shared their concerns, a disconnect between FAA regulations and military operations became clear, making it difficult for the selected panel to properly address questions.

“We monitor and grant approval in and out of the airspace, but we take care of civil aircraft in that area,” said Rebecca Cointin of the FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy. “I want to make it clear that we do not have a lot of regulation over noise produced by military aircraft. The FAA does not control, certify or regulate them.”

According to the panelists, 75 percent of the air traffic in the area is military, and the remaining 25 percent is law enforcement, medical evacuations and the civil aircraft Cointin referred to.

What the FAA does regulate is safe areas in which military aircraft can operate so as to not come into conflict with the civilian aircraft. The military has determined routes in the approved airspace for helicopters flying in and out of Reagan National, including along Route 7 and Route 1.

“We fly the route structure we do because it’s the safest way to fly in that airspace,” the Marine Corps Commander said, using a road analogy to explain why military aircraft tend to fly on either side of corridors like I-395 rather than directly above it. “When we’re flying those routes, they’re like highways in the sky. Unfortunately, we don’t dictate them. We operate via the FAA. We’re just the operators trying to fly in the safest, most efficient manner.”

As the discussion continued, fingers pointed to the U.S. Department of Defense, which regulates military missions, training and how its aircraft operate. It also became apparent that while neither aircraft operators nor the FAA alone could change the flight routes, residents also didn’t have an outlet to share their concerns.

“What I’m looking for is a way for people to let you know when it’s really a problem,” Garvey said. “I’m guessing this might not exist right now, but it might be something we can work on.”

With that in mind, residents shared their ongoing frustrations with noise and accounts of excessive helicopter traffic.

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by Jennifer Currier — December 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm 0

Helicopter over the Key Bridge(Updated on 12/10/15) Community members will have another opportunity to express their concerns about noise pollution from aircraft in the region. This time, the topic is helicopters.

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey will be hosting a community meeting on helicopter operations and noise on Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 7-9 p.m. at the Arlington Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street).

She held a similar meeting over the summer to discuss noise from airplanes heading to and from Reagan National Airport. That meeting drew approximately 100 attendees, who heard from representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The group addressed questions and comments regarding flight paths, hours of operation, types of aircraft and regional coordination moving forward.

This month’s meeting agenda also includes two representatives from the FAA, one from its Air Traffic Organization and another from the Office of Environment and Energy. Another confirmed guest is a commander of the U.S. Army Air Operations Group, and the list is expected to grow.

“We had an overwhelming response to the general aviation community meeting I hosted in the summer and I would encourage all of you to attend this meeting as well,” Garvey wrote in an email to constituents who had expressed concern about aircraft noise. “This will provide an important opportunity for us to not only understand the nature of helicopter operations in the region but will allow us to ask questions and have our voices heard to grow.”

The meeting is part of a “regular series of occasional updates on this issue” to continue efforts put into effect since the first meeting.

One of these efforts is the establishment of a Reagan National Airport Community Working Group — per a MWAA recommendation — that has met twice to discuss options to reduce or mitigate noise concerns in the region, according to an e-mail sent from Garvey to community members. The Working Group is made up of two community representatives from Arlington County, five of the eight Wards in D.C., Alexandria, Dranesville and Mount Vernon.

The County has also created an airport noise website as a dedicated resource for community members to learn about the issue and get updates on meetings.

File photo

by Heather Mongilio — June 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm 2,357 0

The Bracket Room in ClarendonThe Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield St.) is revisiting its plan to bring live music — and some nearby residents are not happy.

The sports bar applied for a live entertainment permit to have up to two acoustic music players in the bar from 8 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday, according to the County Board agenda. County staff recommend that the permit be approved with a review in November.

Residents who live in the Lyon Place at Clarendon Center apartment building, which has rooms above the bar, and across the street at Station Square want the Board to deny the permit. Residents are claiming the additional live music will bring more guests and more noise, which is already a problem, neighbor Joe Morrell said.

Morrell lives in the Station Square building across the street, and while he does not hear noise from inside the bar, he says there are often swells of people outside the bar and there have been fights. Live entertainment will only add to the noise, he said.

Part of the problem is the bar’s location, Morrell said, which is “essentially located in a residential building.”

“It’s not like it’s something like Mad Rose [Tavern] or whatever else is in a commercial building or on its own,” he said.

Morrell plans to attend the board meeting on Saturday to speak out against the permit. He’s not the only one. Other residents at the Station Square will be speaking out, Station Square manager George Pace said.

Pace attributed most of the noise affecting Station Square to the alleged fights and the crowd that hangs outside of the bar. He predicts that live music will only make the already crowded bar more popular.

“It’s always packed,” he said.

The County has also received concerns from Lyon Place residents who live above the bar.

“As of the date of this report, staff has received several comments from residents of the apartment building who are concerned that there will be additional noise impacts caused by the proposed live entertainment. To address those concerns, the applicant has agreed to a condition limiting the proposed live entertainment to two (2) acoustical performers,” according to the agenda report.

According the report, The Bracket Room is aware of the concerns and agreed to making changes in order to reduce noise. Changes including limited performers to only two people and closing the doors and windows when there is live music.

The bar applied for a live entertainment permit in 2013 but withdrew after residents spoke out against it. At the time of the bar’s opening in 2013, the County received multiple noise complaints. However, they have only received one since March 2014, according to the staff report.

(ARLnow.com reached out twice to Jeff Greenberg, co-owner of The Bracket Room, but he did not respond.)

While staff recommended approving the permit, Pace said he does not believe the Board will allow live entertainment at The Bracket Room.

“I don’t think it’s going through again. I doubt it. I don’t know why the Board would change their minds after a year,” Pace said.

File photo

by Mariah Joyce — June 9, 2015 at 10:00 am 2,313 0

Plane landing at Reagan National Airport, as seen from Gravelly Point (photo by Alex)Next Thursday, June 18, Arlington residents will have the opportunity to air their concerns about noise pollution from planes heading to and from Reagan National Airport.

Residents have said that such noise is affecting their quality of life.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Metro Washington Airports Authority, in partnership with Arlington County, are hosting a community meeting in the County Boardroom at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd, Room 307).

The meeting will run from 7-9 p.m., and is designed to “allow Arlington County residents to voice their concerns to the FAA and MWAA, as well as hear possible solutions from FAA and MWAA.”

This is not the first time residents have raised the issue of noise pollution; in 2011 late night runway renovation prompted numerous noise complaints from residents in homes along DCA flight paths.

In July of that year the MWAA hired the ITT Corporation to monitor noise in the communities near the airport in response to numerous complaints.

All who are impacted by the aircraft noise are encouraged to attend the meeting.

Photo courtesy Alex

by Ethan Rothstein — November 20, 2014 at 10:00 am 2,683 0

The future location of the Sehkraft Beer Garden and Haus, the Garfield Park ApartmentsThe Arlington County Board has approved a live entertainment permit for the under-construction Clarendon beer garden, from the owners of Westover Beer Garden, without much of a fight.

Sehkraft Beer Garden and Haus, which is planning on opening next spring in the ground floor of 925 N. Garfield Street, was approved for live entertainment at the Board’s Tuesday meeting. However, its request to keep its doors and windows open during live entertainment — while supported by the community — was denied unanimously.

The Westover Beer Garden and its owner, Devin Hicks, had a long, contentious battle with the county a few years ago over Hicks’ desire to have amplified music in its outdoor space. Since 2012, Hicks’ and the county’s relationship has improved — County Board members John Vihstadt and Walter Tejada said they are now proud customers of the restaurant — but the memories of the permit fight were still on some of their minds.

Sehkraft Beer Garden and Haus' logo (Image courtesy Devin Hicks)“There were some issues early on, and I don’t want to gloss over some of the history or the occasional problem now,” Vihstadt said, but added, “I think the beer garden is a huge community asset. It really is the embodiment of what makes Westover great.”

The difference between Westover and Sehkraft, county staff pointed out, is the new brewpub is in the ground floor of an apartment building and has residential developments nearby. Westover Beer Garden is in a business district and is 110 feet from the nearest single family dwelling.

However, the Lyon Park Civic Association supported Sehkraft’s request to keep the windows open so those in outdoor seating could hear the music. William B. Lawson, a real estate lawyer representing Hicks, told the County Board the request was intended to be a trial period.

“We think that an exception is appropriate,” he said. “Devin has put a lot of money into soundproofing and construction techniques that we think will lessen the impacts of the music. If there are any problems we’ll shut the doors.”

Although the Board denied the exception — agreeing with county staff that allowing it “would be inconsistent with current practice” — Board member Libby Garvey recommended Hicks come back in a year when the permit is up for renewal and suggest opening the doors and windows at that time.

“I think we should sort of ease into it a little bit,” Garvey said. “We’re hearing so much from folks in complaints [about noise’ that I think it would be better to ease into it.”

When he spoke to ARLnow.com in July, Hicks said he plans to open the beer garden and brewpub in March 2015.

by ARLnow.com — June 18, 2014 at 5:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board approved an updated noise ordinance last month, amid concern from businesses that it’s too strict and complaints from residents that it’s not strict enough.

A new video from Arlington County (above) reviews why the noise ordinance was updated and what it means for Arlington residents and businesses.

As noted in the video, noise complaints in Arlington should be directed to county code enforcement (703-228-3232) during business hours and to the police non-emergency line (703-558-2222) after hours.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,761 0

Map showing commercial (yellow) versus residential (blue) areas around Clarendon(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) The Arlington County Board adopted a new noise ordinance on Saturday in an attempt to balance resident complaints with business owners’ concerns.

Effective immediately, restaurant managers will be liable for the noise of their patrons if it can be heard in a residence 100 feet or more away from midnight to 9:00 a.m in mixed-use areas, which the county outlines in maps of areas like Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City and Columbia Pike.

Anywhere in the county, from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. anyone who can be heard “yelling, wailing, shouting or screaming” can receive a ticket for $100 or more.

“It’s our goal to always do the best we can to balance and be respectful of the quality of life to everyone that’s here,” County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said during the Board’s almost five-hour discussion of the ordinance at its Saturday meeting. “This is another set of tools, in my mind, that helps us to address the not widespread — but they do exist — impacts of noise.”

Residents of condominiums in Ballston and other of Arlington’s urban neighborhoods were calling for more restrictive rules, including setting quiet hours beginning at 11:00 p.m. nightly and from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. A committee of residents from the Alta Vista and Berkeley Condominiums in Ballston — both within steps of A-Town Bar & Grill — unsuccessfully proposed those stricter rules to the Board.

“[Responsible businesses] have nothing to fear from a strong noise control ordinance,” said Lee Austin, a member of the ad hoc condo committee. “Nor do we want to prevent young people from having a good time. But is it too much to ask they be respectful of residents in the neighborhood late at night and on Sunday afternoon? What we solicit protection from is the crowd noise that comes from irresponsible establishments that serve too much alcohol to too many people too long after they’ve had too much to drink.”

Clarendon and Courthouse residents sent a flurry of emails last week requesting similar restrictions, with former president of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association Chris Keever telling the County Board that the ordinance appears “to have been drafted directly by bar owners who are not even trying to pretend they care about being good neighbors.”

Whitlow’s on Wilson owner Greg Cahill was the first of 17 speakers who addressed the Board about the ordinance on Saturday. He did not advocate for a specific enforcement time, but instead implored the Board to consider the business community as well as the residents when adopting the new regulations.

“We’re a little concerned it could be detrimental to our business,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t get busy until 11 or 12 at night. It could affect our business. It’s going to be hard for us to be responsible for actions people [take] when they’re waiting to get into our bar and restaurant.”

Arlington County Board 5/10/14In addition to provisions dealing with mixed-use districts, the new ordinance makes it illegal for anybody or any group of people “to engage during the nighttime in yelling, wailing, shouting or screaming” in a residential neighborhood, if the noise can be heard within 20 feet inside an adjacent home or within 50 feet across a road or property boundary.

The ordinance adopted was revised from the version discussed last month that rankled Arlington’s private swim clubs. Those clubs are now exempted from the residential noise ordinance, provided that their meets that take place between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development’s Code Enforcement personnel will pair with the Arlington County Police Department in enforcing the new rules. The new ordinance was written after a 2009 Virginia Supreme Court decision changed the way localities could enforce noise violations. The ordinance now establishes “Objective, quantifiable and defined measurement standards,” according to Arlington County’s press release.

Fisette called the ordinance a “work in progress” and said county staff should bring back any recommended changes at the ordinance’s one-year review. Fisette also made several references to “one establishment in Ballston” that “continues to cause problems for residents,” and said the Board will address that restaurant — understood to be A-Town — when its use permit comes before the Board for review.

by ARLnow.com — May 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm 4,603 0

Map showing commercial/mixed-use (yellow) versus residential (blue) areas around Clarendon

The email listserv of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association (CCCA) erupted today in protest over changes to Arlington’s noise ordinance, which the County Board is scheduled to vote on tomorrow (Saturday).

The changes are needed in order to allow police to objectively enforce the noise ordinance; the current ordinance contains subjective enforcement provisions that were struck down by the state Supreme Court. The ordinance attempts to address what county officials say are the top four noise-related complaints in Arlington: loud parties or gatherings, construction noise, animal noises and live entertainment venues.

Business advocates have said that an overly-restrictive noise ordinance could chase away younger residents and discourage local economic development. The new ordinance, county staff says, attempts to find a balance between resident concerns and business needs.

CCCA leaders, however, say that the provisions don’t adequately protect residents in the county’s urban corridors — so-called “mixed use districts” — against noise from parties and outdoor restaurant patios. While for residential neighborhoods the ordinance outlaws “yelling, wailing, shouting or screaming” that’s audible anywhere within 50 feet of the noise source after 9:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. on weekends), for mixed use districts the noise must be audible indoors, from 100 feet away, after midnight.

“Clarendon is a vibrant mixed use and walkable community and as a neighborhood we generally expect a certain amount of noise related to the restaurants and traffic after those hours,” CCCA President Adam Thocher told ARLnow.com. “However the idea that continued smart growth of our neighborhood is dependent on little to no protection from noise 24/7 is incredible… The CCCA regularly receives feedback on how increasingly loud the outdoor patio space at neighboring restaurants is becoming.”

Even so, Thocher said he was particularly concerned about noise from “keg parties,” which are subject to the same standards as restaurants.

“The idea that the noise from a neighbor’s raucous parties are held to the same noise standards as the restaurant patio is unacceptable even in a mixed use area,” he said.

A former CCCA president, Chris Keever, also weighed in on the issue today, writing the County Board a letter that accused the county of appeasing restaurant owners at the expense of residents of Arlington’s Metro corridors.

“This proposal would leave an overwhelming number of residents of this neighborhood with zero recourse to enforce quiet enjoyment of their own properties,” Keever wrote. “It appears to me to have been drafted directly by bar owners who are not even trying to pretend they care about being good neighbors. It is the right of business owners to make a profit, but not for them to make outrageous profit at the expense of the majority. This is Arlington, not Wall Street.”

The full letters from Thocher and Keever, after the jump.

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by Ethan Rothstein — April 24, 2014 at 11:00 am 2,213 0

County Board 2014 budget hearingAs the Arlington County Board moves forward on an update to its noise ordinance, owners of high-rise condominiums in Ballston, members of private swimming clubs and economic development boosters are all upset with some of county staff’s recommendations.

Staff consulted an ad hoc committee of condo owners in Ballston who want police to issue citations whenever they can hear noise in their apartments that originates from at least 50 feet away. The condo owners want the enforcement period to start at 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, 11:00 p.m. on weekends and from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.

In voting to advertise changes to the noise ordinance on Tuesday night, the County Board gave itself the flexibility to decide whether to make the minimum distance 50, 100 or 200 feet, and to decide when the noise ordinance should be enforced.

Judson McIntire spoke for a more restrictive ordinance. He bought a condominium two years ago on the second floor of the Berkeley Condominiums, at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Randolph Street, which is directly across the street from A-Town Bar & Grill.

“Staff has recommended that protections start at midnight,” said McIntire, who insisted that he moved to Ballston for its “vibrant mixed use” and said he loves living in the neighborhood. “We believe this is too lenient and urge the board to accept stricter enforcement times. Many Arlington residents go to bed before midnight and they expect and deserve an uninterrupted night’s sleep.”

Business owners and economic development advocates worry that provisions in the noise ordinance that prohibit “yelling, wailing, shouting, or screaming” at night in Arlington’s mixed-use corridors, including areas near Metro stations, are overly restrictive. They’re also concerned about provisions that could hold business owners and managers personally responsible for such noise coming from their patrons when they’re outside on patios or rooftop bars.

Sally Duran, a member of the Arlington Economic Commission, countered the condo owners, saying the Board should discuss any noise ordinance changes with the business community, which pays half of all taxes in Arlington, and millennials — generally, those 25-34 years of age.

“These millennials, which make up 45 percent of our population, are the ones who are living and working in Arlington and they are the driving force of businesses’ desire to be located here,” Duran said. “Obviously that’s a blessing, but it’s also creating a little bit of noise… The county needs to holistically study the issues associated with the lively, energetic and sometimes messy environment created by the nightlife uses in urban and mixed-use environments.”

The Board hasn’t given any indication on which direction it prefers. It is advertising the noise ordinance for various enforcement times, to be as broad as possible. It can vote on later hours when it holds its public hearing and likely adopts the noise ordinance at its meeting next month.

One other sticking point among the public was proposed noise restrictions on private swimming clubs, which are located in residential neighborhoods and which hold swim meets during the warmer weather months. Swim club representatives have expressed concern that the new ordinance would make it illegal for fans to cheer on swimmers and divers, particularly on weekend mornings.

Staff recommended these clubs hold no more than 10 meets a year, submit an annual noise management plan and ensure “measures are in place to limit the extent to which noise sources used in the conduct of athletic contests and other activities are audible on properties at least 200 feet from the noise source. ”

“Swim and dive meets have been held at all these community pools for more than 50 years without an issue ever arising,” said Lander Allin, who lives in the Arlington Forest neighborhood. “The ordinance as proposed is so restrictive and burdensome that it puts us at risk of civil and criminal penalties for staging athletic events for our children. It would require us to take very expensive steps to fix a problem that does not exist.”

The Board is expected to vote on a final version of the revised noise ordinance as soon as next month.

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