The Arlington County Board has approved a site plan that would bring 97 affordable housing units and two rows of townhouses to Buckingham.
The “100 percent affordable” multi-family building and townhouses will replace the former local Red Cross headquarters.
The approved development comes despite complaints from nearby residents about the proposal. The new development’s density, potentially increased traffic, and “the desecration of the tree canopy” were all cited as dealbreakers for some locals, though supporters asserted that the building was vacant, the affordable housing is “badly needed” and complaints were overblown.
A partial rezoning of the site was approved alongside the site plan at Saturday’s County Board meeting (April 21). There are currently two single family homes on the site, in addition to the former headquarters and an existing playground.
The townhouses will be built in the first phase of the project, with construction on the multi-family building, which is required to “achieve Earthcraft Gold or LEED v4 Homes and Multifamily Midrise Gold certification,” following in a second phase.
The developer, Wesley Housing Development Corporation, agreed to preserve the on-site apartments, known historically as the Windsor Apartments but now called the Whitefield Commons, which the county says were built in 1943. Unit incomes will average 80 percent of the average median income, and the building will average 60 percent of that figure.
Whitefield Commons’ interior will be reconfigured to add five units, bringing the total units inside that complex to 68. The multi-family building will have 97 units, and the townhouses will have 19.
There will be 187 parking spaces between the developments — 45 at Whitefield Commons, 88 at the multi-family building, and 42 for the townhouses. The townhouses have the highest parking ratio per unit, at 2.26 spots per unit plus four visitor spots.
Wesley Housing Development Corporation will be required to “encourage transportation alternatives.”
That will be done via a transportation management plan, which includes a provision to give “each new tenant in the multi-family building… a choice of a SmartTrip card preloaded with a $65 balance or a bikeshare or car share membership,” according to a county project website.
A Google Maps estimate shows that the site is approximately a 22 minute walk to the Ballston Metro station. The 3.95 acre parcel is bordered by N. Thomas and N. Trenton streets, 2nd Road N., and Arlington Boulevard.
Plans estimate that 60 trees will be removed, three of which are dead or dying and another 17 of which are located on top of or near an existing storm pipe.
An estimated 132 tree credits will be granted, according to the site plan. One credit is given for each planted shade tree or large evergreen tree, or for every three deciduous, ornamental, or small evergreen trees.
Map via Google Maps
Cemetery Flyover Planned Today — Expect to see a military flyover today around 1:45 p.m., in support of a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]
Grant to Pay for Reforestation — “Arlington County government officials will accept about $9,700 in federal funds to restore nearly four acres of riparian buffer along Four Mile Run. The grant will fund purchase of more than 1,000 tree and shrub seedlings to be planted in areas that have been treated for removal of invasive plants.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Convicted of Murder — “On Friday, April 13, 2018, a Charles County jury, after a 5 day trial, convicted Bryan Javier Aquice, 25, of Arlington, VA. of the First Degree Murder of Michael Beers.” [Southern Maryland News Net]
Disgusting Discovery Prompts Call to Police — A woman called police after she reportedly found a used condom on the hood of her car in Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood. [Twitter]
Nearby: New Company HQ in Falls Church — Investment firm Kiddar Capital will be relocating its headquarters to a new office building in the City of Falls Church. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
An Arlington environmental group is claiming that Arlington’s recent tree canopy assessment is misleading.
The tree canopy study found that, from 2011-2016, the tree canopy increased one percent to 41 percent. The Arlington Tree Action Group claims that the two percent margin of error on the county’s study cancels out its findings.
A press release from the tree group also notes that the county failed “to emphasize a decrease from the 43 percent recorded in 2008.”
The press release from the Arlington Tree Action Group is below.
ATAG Challenges County’s Misleading Claims on Tree Canopy Study
Arlington, Virginia – April 12, 2018 – Arlington County is using an arsenal of its public outreach resources to present an overly optimistic picture of the health of the forest resources based on a 2017 tree canopy study according to the Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG). The study concluded that the tree canopy increased by 1% between 2011 and 2016 but the County media push fails to emphasize a decrease from the 43% recorded in 2008. More alarming for 10 civic association neighborhoods is the scant recognition of the actual loss of more than 5% of their trees over just five years, with another 14 neighborhoods losing up to 5%. The County has instead declared that the trees are “on the rebound” based on the report.
After reviewing the report, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, Director, Spatial Analysis Laboratory, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the University of Vermont, concluded that the accuracy of the data used was only 94% making the findings publicized by the County highly questionable. In keeping with the County initiative for more open data, ATAG is concerned that the information disseminated must be accurate.
The 2004 Arlington County Urban Forest Master Plan called for an increase in the tree canopy from the estimated 41% at that time. The Plan also called for extensive programs for the preservation and planting of trees. Arlington County does not have an inventory of the trees on public lands that many jurisdictions such as the District have established. The County currently has capital projects including stream restorations, community centers, and park developments, that will remove hundreds more trees in the next few years, dwarfing the public and private tree planting programs underway.
ATAG is concerned that the County outreach mischaracterizes the study results which could delay addressing serious environmental, health and economic challenges accompanying urban tree canopy loss. The outreach has included presentations to the County Board, the Urban Forestry Commission and other County commissions and civic associations, as well as articles in “The Citizen” newsletter to all residents, pages on the County website, and posters in parks.
ATAG is a group of concerned Arlington citizens working to preserve the sustainable urban forest, promote green infrastructure, and protect the environmental ambience that makes the community economically attractive. Working with individuals and established community organizations, the group seeks to highlight important issues facing Arlington’s urban forest and bring together resources to maximize their goals.
See here for a more complete discussion and links to relevant documents.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A small patch of trees and shrubs have been cut down on a traffic island near Washington-Lee High School but replacement plantings are planned.
The spot alongside the intersection at Washington Boulevard and N. Quincy Street previously had several trees, including an older tree and several shrubs.
Susan Kalish, an Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson, told ARLnow that the greenery there was primarily non-native species, and “about 75 percent were diseased or dying.”
“Slowly but surely, as projects arise we look to enhance areas with native plants that will support our native species,” Kalish wrote.
County landscapers “looked at the space and decided to turn it into a forested grassy knoll,” and are in the process of replanting 15 flowering native trees and grass.
The tree removal and reinstatement at the plot directly across from Quincy Park comes weeks after Arlington officials cited stats that Arlington’s level of tree canopy coverage had slightly increased, although at least one local environmental activist has disputed that finding.
When a grand old oak tree died just prior to construction on an improvement project at Oakgrove Park, landscape architect Kathy von Bredow knew what she had to do.
She got in touch with prolific chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon, who’s responsible for a number of intriguing tree sculptures around Arlington, and asked him to do his magic. Now, as seen in the video above, that tree is a whimsical carving of forest animals having fun around a little house.
The carving is now a centerpiece at Oakgrove Park — or is it Oak Grove Park? — that all can enjoy. Other upgrades to the park include a new tot lot, play equipment for school-age children, picnic shelter and site furnishings.
Video via Arlington County
Arlington Tree Canopy Increases — “Arlington’s tree canopy increased slightly from 2011 to 2016, according to new data, but remains below levels of a decade ago. A total of 41 percent of Arlington’s acreage was filled with tree canopy when evaluated last year, an improvement from the 40 percent from the last time it was studied.” [InsideNova]
Police: Drive Safely This Weekend –Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter, and the Patriots and Eagles will be facing off in Super Bowl LII on Sunday — both are occasions for the Arlington County Police Department to remind residents to drive safely. [Twitter, Twitter]
Thank You to Quantum — Staff from Clarendon-based recruiting firm Quantum Search Partners helped ARLnow’s team move some heavy furniture as we expanded into a new office yesterday. Thank you for lending a hand!
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
The curbside lane along eastbound Old Dominion Drive will be closed today, tomorrow and on Monday as the county removes trees to make way for a new sidewalk.
Closures will remain in effect from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Monday and from 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow. The “missing link” sidewalk project is anticipated to begin construction this spring/summer with completion expected in spring 2019.
Once trees are removed, utility adjustments will begin to complete the sidewalk from the south side of Old Dominion Drive from Cherrydale Firehouse to N. Thomas Street.
The county has allocated $1.15 million for the project, a spokeswoman said.
Photos via Arlington County
Four trees have been designated for special protection as specimen trees by the Arlington County Board.
The trees, all on private property, are designated as an “outstanding example of [their] species,” according to a county press release over the weekend.
They were all offered protection under the county’s Tree Preservation Ordinance, and now are permanently protected from injury or removal.
The trees were nominated for the protected status by their owners.
The four new specimen trees are:
- Willow Oak at 2411 N. Monroe Street. The tree’s circumference is nearly 193 inches, and it stands 130 feet tall, with a crown spread of more than 80 feet.
- Blackgum at 3225 N. Albemarle Street. The tree boasts a circumference of nearly 74 inches, stands 60 feet tall and has a crown spread of 50 feet.
- American Beech, at 1600 N. Jackson Street. Its excellent condition earned the tree its protected status. Sixty feet tall, it has a circumference of nearly 106 inches and a crown spread of more than 55 feet.
- Southern Red Oak at 5220 11th Road N. The tree has a circumference of 192 inches and stands 120 feet tall, with an 80-foot-plus crown spread. It is currently the County Champion for the Southern Red Oak species.
“Our County is working on many fronts to preserve trees and to protect our tree canopy,” County Board chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “Specimen trees are one piece of this puzzle. These are special trees, usually very old and deeply loved by their owners, that have been found to have such outstanding qualities that they merit special protections.”
The latter tree belongs to local activist Nora Palmatier, who chairs the county’s Urban Forestry Commission and is a recipient of the county’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award.
In a statement, Palmatier said:
Having a Specimen Tree in the yard is really important to us. First, there are the bragging rights so we can show photos when others show off grandkids. Second, this massive oak’s leaves keep the house shaded at all hours during the summer so our air conditioner rarely runs which saves money and is more relaxing with fresh air from open windows. Third, our tree is an apartment building for birds, squirrels and pollinators so we are constantly entertained by our neighbors’ antics.
Yet most important, designated Specimen Trees are officially listed on the real estate property deed. Whoever buys our old house in the future will want to replace it, and they’ll note the magnificent Southern Red Oak in the back requires special protections.
Oaks naturally live hundreds of years, and we hope simply by making this an extra step, our tree will continue benefitting the neighborhood another hundred years.
A tree set for removal outside an East Falls Church home has instead been turned into a castle.
The home, at the intersection of N. Underwood Street and 26th Street N. is near Bishop O’Connell High School and Tuckahoe Elementary School.
The homeowners did not respond to requests for comment, but a neighbor said the castle was carved by a local artist out of a tree that needed to be taken down.
It is approximately 7-8 feet tall, and the “detail involved is truly unbelievable,” the neighbor said. At first glance, it looks like the kind of castles found in Germany, where many castles sit among mountains.
For those already looking forward to the end of the holidays, Arlington County’s Christmas tree collection program begins in early January.
The program goes through the first two weeks in January, from January 2-12.
“Residents are reminded to place the tree on the curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day and to remove all decorations, nails, stands and plastic bags,” a blurb on the program reads. “The trees are later ground into wood mulch for garden use.”
Anyone who does not have a curbside recycling service can bring their Christmas trees to the Solid Waste Bureau during the collection season.
If you’ve procrastinated on picking up a Christmas tree for your home, you’re in luck: at least one lot in Arlington is now giving trees away for free.
The Arlington South Lions Club, which this year moved its lot from the under-construction Food Lion site along Columbia Pike to American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square, is trying to make sure its trees don’t go to waste.
“Since there are still many trees and only three days until Christmas, the Arlington South Lions Club will give a tree for FREE to anyone who wants one and stops by at 3445 Washington Blvd today, 4-7 p.m. and tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” Peter Golkin, who has been helping with the sale, tells ARLnow. “Financial donations to the Lions Club will gladly be accepted but are not necessary.”
As of Dec. 18, the Lions Club said it still had over 500 Fraser Fir trees still waiting for a home.
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
The annual Christmas tree lighting at The Village at Shirlington (2700 S. Quincy Street) will take place on Thursday evening.
It begins at 6 p.m. with a Signature Theatre holiday production featuring the cast of The Holiday Follies, with the tree to be lit at 6:30 p.m.
That will be followed by pictures with Santa in Hardwood Artisans (2800 S. Randolph Street) and a performance by the Bishop O’Connell High School Choir at 7 p.m.
The evening will also feature horse and carriage rides, strolling entertainment and live music, as well as specials at local shops and restaurants including Cheesetique, Busboys & Poets and Le Village Marche.
Per the Arlington County Police Department, the following roads will be closed to accommodate the event:
- Campbell Avenue, from the Harris Teeter driveway to S. Randolph Street (12:00-4:00 PM)
- Campbell Avenue, from Arlington Mill Drive to S. Quincy Street (4:00-10:00 PM)
- S. Randolph Street, from Arlington Mill Drive to the alley behind Charlie Chiang’s Restaurant, roughly the 3000 block (4:00-10:00 PM)
Vehicles will be allowed to exit the covered Harris Teeter parking structure onto Campbell Ave. until 4:00 PM, then must use the alternative entrance accessed from Arlington Mill Drive. Drivers are warned that traffic in the area may be congested throughout the event and alternative modes of transportation are recommended.
Street parking in the area will be restricted and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222.
All areas within the lines on the included map will be closed to vehicular traffic during the actual event (4:00-9:00 PM).
With the Thanksgiving holiday over, a number of local Christmas tree sales are now underway.
The Arlington Optimist Club’s tree sale at the Well Fargo bank parking lot on the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road began last Friday (November 24).
The schedule for the sales will be as follows:
- Monday to Thursday: 2 to 8 p.m.
- Friday: Noon to 8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Clarendon United Methodist Church (607 N. Irving Street) started its tree sale on Saturday (November 25). All proceeds go towards Rise Against Hunger (formally Stop Hunger Now), the Arlington Food Assistance Center and other ministries that help those in need.
The hours of the sales are as follows:
- Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Sundays: Noon to 6 p.m.
- Weeknights: 6-9 p.m.
The South Arlington Lions Club’s sale was forced to move this year from the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive due to development at the site.
Now, the sale is located at American Legion Post 139 (3445 Washington Blvd) in Virginia Square, and began last Friday too.
And Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (830 23rd Street S.) in Aurora Highlands is hosting a tree sale by the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. When an ARLnow reporter dropped by the church on Monday afternoon, trees were in the church’s front yard, but there are no details available online about hours.
Other usual Christmas tree sale locations include Whole Foods stores, local farmers markets, the Cathedral of St. Thomas More (3901 N. Cathedral Lane), the Dominion Hills shopping center (6000 Wilson Blvd) and the Unleashed by Petco parking lot (5400 Lee Highway).
Two Washington-Lee High School students suffered minor injuries after the car they were riding in hit a tree in a home’s front yard near the school.
The car hit the tree just after 11 a.m. on the 1600 block of N. Randolph Street after veering off the road. The crash occurred in the Cherrydale neighborhood, near the Cherry Valley Nature Area.
It caused damage to the front of the car, but did not appear to have caused much damage to the tree or any of the surrounding houses.
The pair were interviewed by police officers and attended to by paramedics, while startled neighbors came out of their houses to survey the scene.
ACPD Urges Caution on Roads As Days Get Shorter — “The days are getting shorter and there’s increased pedestrian and bicyclist traffic after dark,” the Arlington County Police Department said in a public service tweet last night. “Slow down, remain alert and proceed with care and caution.” [Twitter, Twitter]
History: Fort Myer During World War I — A Library of Congress collection includes 100-year-old photographs showing what life was like on Fort Myer during World War I. The photos show a visit from President Woodrow Wilson and the famous “Three Sisters” radio towers. [Pentagram]
Redskins Visit Fort Myer, Play Video Games — Former Washington Redskins players Santana Moss and Fred Smoot visited Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and engaged in a Madden 18 video game tournament with some of the men and women in uniform. [WUSA 9]
Notable Tree Nomination Deadline Approaching — November 15 is the application deadline for submitting a tree for consideration as a 2018 Arlington County “notable tree.” [Arlington County]