On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act, pushing an amendment on helicopter noise from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) closer to becoming law.
The amendment was proposed by Beyer in response to frequent complaints from Northern Virginia residents about excess noise from military helicopters. It directs the Dept. of Defense to work with the Federal Aviation Administration “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.”
With Friday’s 375-34 House vote, the measure is now set to be voted on by the Senate this week, prior to heading to the president’s desk to become law.
Beyer said the language in the bill will force the DoD to take responsibility for its role in creating noise that affects quality of life in local neighborhoods.
“My constituents understand and appreciate the military’s mission in the National Capital Region, but that does not absolve the Pentagon’s responsibility to minimize helicopter flights over residential neighborhoods,” Beyer told ARLnow.com Friday, in a statement. “I offered this amendment out of frustration after Department officials rebuffed my attempts to work together to quiet the noise. Today’s vote ensures the DoD will work with the FAA and local community groups to find ways to reduce the din.”
The FAA wants to shift the northbound flight path for planes taking off from Reagan National Airport directly over Rosslyn, a change that many residents expressed skepticism about during a public meeting last night at Washington-Lee High School.
“What we’re asking people to look at is a new proposed route that is an effort to relieve noise in the Foxhall Village section of [D.C.] and put planes more over the middle of the river,” said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. Residents of Northwest D.C. have been complaining about airplane noise for some time now, culminating in a letter to the FAA from D.C.’s attorney general earlier this year.
But the new proposed flight path could result in more noise for parts of Arlington, particularly the Rosslyn, Courthouse and North Highlands neighborhoods. (The new flight path would slightly shift planes away from some far northern Arlington communities.)
Some residents questioned why Arlington should be subject to more noise so that D.C. residents could have more peace and quiet.
“The problem with downtown airports is that they’re convenient and they’re noisy,” said Arlington resident and retired Naval aviator Jim Pebley. “You can have one, but you can’t have it without the other. The best we can do is distribute the noise equally between the District and us.”
Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol and John Vihstadt were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. Garvey on Monday wrote a letter to the FAA asking why data shows aircraft noise increasing in Arlington over the past couple of years. The letter asks the FAA to be more responsive to concerns from residents and localities about aircraft noise; it also asks the agency to propose alternatives for reducing noise.
“Arlington County firmly believes that improvements for both those on the ground and the flying public are possible and necessary,” the letter says. However, “it does not seem reasonable to the County that local communities, who are not experts on the needs, constraints and opportunities with regards to aviation, should be tasked with solving this problem.”
Another issue raised at the meeting: the safety implications of having jetliners flying even closer to Rosslyn’s tall buildings. The recently-released film ‘Sully,’ which recounted the Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549 after striking a flock of geese on takeoff, was brought up.
“I’m worried about what this is going to do for a single engine out operation over Rosslyn,” Pebley said. “I ran the calculations. If you take off on a warm summer day and climbed up the best you could, you might make it a couple hundred feet over the tallest building there. That’s really scary.”
The FAA will be holding two additional public meetings — in Georgetown tonight and Bethesda tomorrow — and will weigh public feedback at each of the three meetings, Brown said. A final decision on the flight path could be make as early as January 2017.
Civic Federation Debate — The candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and Congress took the stage at Tuesday’s Arlington County Civic Federation meeting, marking the unofficial kickoff of general election campaign season. During the County Board debate, independent challenger Audrey Clement went on the attack against “backroom deals” allegedly facilitated by incumbent Libby Garvey. [InsideNova, InsideNova, InsideNova]
September Heat Wave — Temperatures are expected to soar into the upper 90s today, and the heat and humidity will stay mid-summer-like through Saturday. [Capital Weather Gang]
New Flight Path Closer to Arlington? — To appease unhappy Northwest D.C. residents, the FAA is considering a new northern departure flight path for Reagan National Airport that’s closer to Arlington. A community meeting will be held to discuss the plan on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 6:30-9:30 p.m., at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. [WUSA 9]
Outdoor Movies on the Pike — Four films are left on the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization outdoor movie calendar. Tonight, the critically-acclaimed film Brooklyn will be screened outside the Arlington Mill Community Center. [CPRO]
Clement Against Lubber Run Plan — County Board candidate Audrey Clement says it’s “inappropriate and unnecessary, given the county’s current 20% office vacancy rate,” for Arlington County to be planning to spend $46 million on a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center that will include new offices for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. [Audrey Clement]
Beware the Cute Puppy Scam — Scammers are active on some local Facebook groups, trying to convince people to part with their cash and personal information to adopt a (fake) cute puppy from a (fake) man who can no longer afford to take care of it. [Fox 5]
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.
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
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 House — Celtic 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
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 Victims — Course 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]
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.
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 Store — Updated 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]
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.
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.
The 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.
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
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.
“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.
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.