Pentagon Looking into Helicopter Noise Reduction — After pressure from residents who live near the Pentagon, along with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), “FOX 5 has learned the Department of Defense is researching ways to reduce helicopter noise and is ready to hear concerns from… neighboring residents.” [Fox 5]
Caiazzo is New ACDC Chair — The Arlington County Democratic Committee has elected Jill Caiazzo, a lawyer and policy advocate, as its new chair. She succeeds Kip Malinosky, who was lauded at last night’s ACDC meeting for his four years of service as chair. [Blue Virginia, Facebook]
Favola Pushes Highway Name Bill — In an effort to allow Arlington to change the name of its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and perhaps even Lee Highway, state Sen. Barbara Favola “is patroning legislation that would allow any Virginia county, city or town to change the name of any highway in its environs, so long as the original name was put in place prior to 1965.” [InsideNova]
Homeless Shelter Busy During Cold Snap — Some 80 people a night were staying at Arlington’s homeless shelter in Courthouse during the recent extended blast of frigid temperatures. The shelter, which relocated to an office building next to Arlington police headquarters in 2015, can accommodate up to 90 people during sub-freezing weather. [Arlington Connection]
History of the Sun Gazette — In his latest column, “Our Man in Arlington” Charlie Clark recounts the history of Arlington’s Sun Gazette newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]
Printing Business Offers Free Pizza — In a unique partnership, Ballston-area printing business ASAP Screen Printing is partnering with newly-renamed pizza restaurant Alto Fumo to offer customers who spend at least $100 a free pizza. [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Harvard
Registration is open for Rep. Don Beyer’s (D) community forum in Fairlington later this month on helicopter noise.
Beyer will host the forum on January 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Abingdon Elementary School (3035 S. Abingdon Street), as part of a study he added to last year’s Defense Authorization Act that passed Congress.
Anyone wishing to attend must register online.
“The provision was proposed by Rep. Beyer in response to frequent complaints from constituents about excess noise from military helicopters,” organizers wrote. “It directs DOD to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”
Beyer to Host Helicopter Noise Forum — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting a forum about “excessive noise from military helicopters” at Abingdon Elementary School in the Fairlington neighborhood on Jan. 16. [Associated Press]
Arlington Buying New CNG Buses — Arlington Transit is buying 13 Xcelsior compressed natural gas (CNG) forty-foot, heavy-duty transit buses, according to a press release from Minnesota-based manufacturer New Flyer of America. [New Flyer]
Recounting Jay Fisette’s Career — “It was pure chance that led Jay Fisette to Arlington in 1983. A college friend had rented a cheap, spacious apartment in Pentagon City, and a nearby unit was available. So Fisette found a roommate among his college swimming buddies and began hoofing the ‘cow path’ — open land that would become the Pentagon City mall — and hopping the Metro to his new job downtown.” [Washington Post]
Northam Re-Appoints Two Arlington Residents — Arlingtonians Richard Holcomb and Jaime Areizaga-Soto have been re-appointed to their state posts under the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Ralph Northam. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Voting is underway among some Fairlington residents on whether new sound walls should be added as part of the I-395 Express Lanes project.
Ballots have been mailed out to some neighborhood residents on whether sound barriers should be installed to mitigate the noise from the extended High Occupancy Toll lanes. The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.
The first round of ballots went out to residents in the north of the neighborhood in late September.
But Guy Land, president of the Fairlington Citizens Association, told ARLnow it was his understanding that a second round of ballots were mailed out earlier this month as less than 50 percent of the first round were returned. The results of the second round of balloting will be final, regardless of turnout.
AECOM Engineering Company is the contractor behind the sound walls, and is running the vote. An AECOM spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
In a presentation to FCA last year, the Virginia Department of Transportation said approximately 4.7 miles of highway in Arlington is eligible for the sound barriers, in addition to 3.4 miles in Alexandria.
Residents are eligible to vote based on their proximity to the proposed walls, and the noise the highway creates. Renters vote as well as homeowners, although the votes of owners have a higher weight.
FCA’s November newsletter detailed some of the concerns residents have with the sound barriers.
“The proposed walls are 25 feet high, which will impact sight lines and sunlight for residents on lower floors,” the newsletter reads. “The walls also require 10 feet of clear space on either side, which will require the destruction of a fair number of trees and shrubs around the neighborhood perimeter. And the walls themselves may only provide five decibels of noise reduction, according to designers.”
Image via VDOT presentation
The Army’s Presidential Salute Battery will be firing a 19-gun volley of 105mm howitzer cannons from about 7-7:15 a.m. as part of a dress rehearsal for the National Veterans Day Observance on Saturday.
“Arlington County neighbors are advised to expect intermittent, elevated noise level during this time,” said a press release from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
Arlington residents frequently report hearing cannon fire from the cemetery, usually in the morning. Depending on weather conditions, the noise can be heard in various parts of Arlington or even D.C.
The full press release about Thursday’s rehearsal, below.
The Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) will execute a 19-gun volley of its 105mm howitzer cannons beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, during a full force rehearsal. The rehearsal should last between 10 and 15 minutes. Arlington County neighbors are advised to expect intermittent, elevated noise level during this time.
The battery will be set up in Arlington National Cemetery for the rehearsal in preparation for the National Veterans Day Observance set for Saturday, Nov. 11.
The Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon fires its cannons at ceremonies in honor of the President of the United States, for visiting foreign dignitaries, during official government ceremonies, regional celebrations (such as the 4th of July program at the U.S. Capitol), and while rendering honors during the funeral services of our nation’s fallen service members and veterans.
The members of the regiment practice to maintain the highest level of ceremonial proficiency necessary and often practice in Arlington National Cemetery between 7 and 8 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. Arlington County neighbors are advised that during the fall and winter months, without leaves on the trees to buffer the sound, the booms of the cannons may seem louder.
Crystal City Development Plan Filed — Developer JBG Smith has filed a site plan application for what it’s calling “North District” — a multi-block redevelopment in Crystal City that will include a new movie theater, grocery store and Metro station entrance. The residential-heavy development is bounded by Crystal Drive, Route 1, 15th Street and 18th Street S. [Washington Business Journal]
Chamber Backs Staff’s VRE Recommendation — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce says county staff is right to recommend the placement of a revamped Crystal City VRE station closer to Metro. The staff recommendation “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” as compared to a placement option preferred by local condo residents who are concerned about train noise. [InsideNova]
DCA Noise Complaints — A total of 36,653 noise complaints were filed in 2016 regarding arrivals to and departures from Reagan National Airport, according to recently-released stats from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The complaints were filed by 836 individuals in 762 households, including one individual who filed 17,273 noise complaints. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Those near Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall next weekend can expect to hear live cannon fire during the U.S. Army Band’s annual 1812 Overture summer concert.
The free concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 at Summerall Field (247 Sheridan Ave) on the base. If it rains, it will be moved to across the street to Conmy Hall (239 Sheridan Ave).
The U.S. Army Concert Band, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus and the U.S. Army Voices ensembles will all perform. The program will include selections of classical, popular, and patriotic music.
The climax of the evening will be live cannon fire provided by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) during a playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Advance tickets are not required, and bleacher seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Food is allowed but alcohol, glass containers and coolers are not. All bags will be searched.
Cars and pedestrians can enter the base through the Hatfield Gate (off Washington Blvd and 2nd Street S.). The Henry Gate (off Arlington Blvd) will be open for pedestrians only from 6-10:30 p.m., while cyclists can enter at either gate. Valid photo ID is required for attendees aged 18 or over.
Photo via Facebook
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Westover Market — which combines a grocery store, restaurant and beer garden — went before the County Board late last month in a bid to add live indoor entertainment, expand its outdoor entertainment hours and have furniture on its patio year-round.
But that plan was scuttled in part by county staff finding the business at 5863 Washington Blvd violated several county rules. Some of the violations came to light the week before Westover Market went before the County Board and were included in the staff report on the plan.
In addition to alleged noise violations, Westover Market was accused of having more seats than it is allowed outside. The county states it can have a maximum of 29 outdoor seats, but in the April 25 meeting, CEO Devin Hicks admitted there are more than that.
According to a “Save the Beer Westover Garden” Facebook page, which has been active for several years through Westover Market’s issues with the county and a few neighbors, the owners of the market are scheduled to meet with county staff this Friday.
They will reportedly ask the county to suspend enforcement of the limit on seating on the patio, and have asked the fire marshall’s office for its opinion on a safe capacity. The market said it will also do the sound testing as required, and will comply with decibel limits and the hours that music is allowed.
Owner David Hicks wrote in a Facebook post that the business needs the extra seating to keep revenue up and survive.
“Here is the bottom line regarding Westover Market,” he wrote. “The business is not viable without the beer garden revenue. The beer garden is not viable without additional seating/occupancy. Every other problem can be overcome — including limits on music noise and restrictions on live music. But the outdoor seating is existential for the Market.”
“This would be devastating to the employees, the community, and not a good outcome for the county,” the Save the Westover Beer Garden said in another post. “We want the county to work with us to develop a plan that allows the beer garden’s continued existence and supports small businesses across the county.”
Representatives with Westover Market tried in vain to just add extra seating during the County Board meeting, only to be rebuffed as members said they wanted to see compliance with the rules already in place.
“This is actually fairly easy for me,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “Let’s establish a record of continuing to move forward with compliance before considering other alternatives. That’s all I see to this issue.”
County Board chair Jay Fisette said he was open to considering expanding the outdoor seating in the future if the market complies.
“I understand it’s a violation. But I also sit here and go almost everybody loves this place,” he said. “It’s a really popular neighborhood place. We’re talking about sound, we’re talking about nights and all the rest, but they’ve obviously got more interest than the condition allows them to have seats outside under the permit.”
Photo via Facebook
The market, restaurant and beer garden at 5863 Washington Blvd in Westover also is applying to have furniture outdoors year-round, and reduce the number of required noise tests.
Westover Market’s application proposes that live music be permitted indoors each night, except Mondays, until 10 p.m.
The business is also requesting to have live entertainment outdoors until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, later than is currently permitted, and expanding the amplified music that is currently permitted only on Fridays and Saturdays to other weekdays. That request is meeting resistance from county staff.
A report by county staff about the application notes that Westover Market has been issued two verbal warnings for not completing required noise tests in 2015 and 2016, and for its amplified live entertainment being on a non-permitted day and for going past the permitted hours on a day when it was allowed.
The report adds that Westover Market had an independent noise test earlier this month, and that it showed no violations of the Noise Control Ordinance. It also complied with the ordinance during tests in previous years, having struggled in the past with noise complaints from neighbors. Live music returned to the beer garden in 2012.
County staff is recommending that the hours and days for outdoor live entertainment not be expanded, but that indoor entertainment and year-round outdoor furniture be permitted. Staff added that a request that an administrative review be carried out in six months, then a review by the County Board in one year.
Lilith Christiansen, president of the Westover Village Civic Association, said in an email to county staff that they support that recommendation and ” believe it is important that the Westover Beer Garden be in compliance.”
At a March meeting, according to the staff report, some civic association members “noted that the Westover Market owner has not always been receptive to complaints from neighbors regarding noise. “
Yesterday, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) joined other D.C. metro area legislators in writing to members of the House Appropriations Committee to support airplane noise mitigation provisions in the fiscal year Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.
Beyer is a member of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, and urged the committee to fund health studies on the effects of airplane noise. The legislators cited past studies that have linked excessive exposure to noise with hypertension and learning difficulties.
Beyer requested that appropriators include language directing the Federal Aviation Administration to expedite its review of current noise standards.
“Airplane noise is a pervasive problem around the United States, but especially in Northern Virginia neighborhoods below ever-shifting flight paths in and out of DCA,” said Beyer in a statement. “To date, the FAA has not satisfactorily addressed the situation, while the problem has worsened in many communities. It is past time for Congress to take action, and I hope my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee heed our call.”
Legislators also signed a bipartisan letter urging the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which operates Reagan National and Dulles International Airport — not to add more flight traffic at DCA.
They point out that Reagan National has experienced six consecutive years of passenger growth and outpaced passenger volume at Dulles in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, they say domestic commercial passenger traffic since 2000 has increased by 50 percent at Reagan, but it decreased by 9 percent at Dulles.
Congress is preparing to work on legislation to reauthorize the FAA for this year. The delegation said that maintaining the current rules will allow Dulles and BWI to continue to grow and serve long-haul destinations, while also not subjecting National to additional traffic.
“Our airports enable Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia to access the global economy in ways that create jobs and opportunities for the region,” the letter reads. “Part of the rationale for the relocation of major corporate headquarters such as SAIC, Hilton Hotels, Nestle USA and Volkswagen of America is the connectivity our regional aviation system provides.”
Both the House and Senate are expected to consider FAA reauthorization proposals in the coming months. The current FAA authorization expires at the end of September.
The Federal Aviation Administration is scrapping a proposal to shift the northerly flight path from Reagan National Airport closer to Rosslyn, according to Rep. Don Beyer’s office.
The FAA sought feedback on the plan during a public meeting at Washington-Lee High School in September. The plan, which was intended to reduce noise in the Foxhall Village neighborhood of D.C. while placing flights more directly over the Potomac River, was met with skepticism from Arlington residents. County Board members pointed out that aircraft noise in Arlington was already on the rise under the current flight path.
Rep. Beyer (D-Va.) sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in October, outlining “serious concerns with many aspects of the plan.” The congressman hailed the FAA’s decision to terminate the proposed changes.
“Today’s decision by the FAA to terminate the proposed… departure procedure is a positive development in our ongoing quest to quiet the skies over northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “While the proposed path was intended to increase flight time over the Potomac River, it was significantly concerning that there was no clear understanding on the level and impact of plane noise on airport area communities.”
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]