The Arlington County Police Department is seeking information on a man suspected for robbing a bank in Westover last month.
Police said the man entered a branch of Wells Fargo at 1701 N. McKinley Road just before 3:30 p.m. on December 22 and handed the teller a note demanding money. He then fled on foot after the teller complied.
Police said the suspect is a white male, aged between 40 and 50 years old, approximately between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-6 tall. He was wearing a gray winter hat, dark red coat and blue jeans at the time of the incident.
More from an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured on surveillance footage.
On Friday, December 22, 2017, at approximately 3:22 p.m., a male suspect entered the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1701 N. McKinley Road in Arlington, Virginia and passed the teller a note, demanding money. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the suspect exited the bank and fled on foot heading towards Washington Boulevard.
The suspect is described as a white male, 40-50 years old, approximately 5’3″ – 5’6″ tall. He was wearing a gray winter hat, dark red coat and blue jeans at the time of the incident.
The Arlington County Police Department requests that anyone with information regarding this incident contact Detective C. Riccio at 703.228.4180 or [email protected]. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
Photos via Arlington County Police Department
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The Wells Fargo bank in the Westover neighborhood was robbed Friday afternoon.
A man robbed the bank by passing a note to a teller shortly before 3:30 p.m., we hear. Arlington County Police are currently on the scene investigating. No injuries were reported.
The suspect is described as a white male between 40-50 years of age. He was wearing a light-colored vest and blue pants at the time of the robbery, and fled the bank in the direction of Washington Blvd carry a bag full of cash, according to initial reports.
Arlington Ready for Possible Snow — The chances of “meaningful accumulation” have since gone down, but Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews started applying brine to county roads Monday night in anticipation a “potential snow/ice this Wednesday evening/Thursday.” [Twitter, Washington Post]
VDOT Pleased With I-66 HOT Lane Data — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss tweets: “Doesn’t look like @VaDOTNOVA plans to change anything about the I-66 toll lanes. They say their data shows commutes were faster and more reliable.” [Twitter]
Dems Want Satellite-Voting Centers — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee could again be at loggerheads with the county’s elections office over whether to provide satellite locations for absentee voting in non-presidential-election years.” [InsideNova]
ARLnow T-Shirt Now Available — Need a gift for the ARLnow.com fan in your life? Show your Arlington pride with this long-sleeved t-shirt from the county’s No. 1 local news source. [Amazon]
ACPD Officers Helping in Puerto Rico — The Arlington County Police Department is among the departments nationwide sending officers to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to provide emergency assistance. The third ACPD team to rotate in is working on the island through Dec. 18. Officers who’ve gone say many challenges remain but there are hopeful signs as well. [Arlington Connection]
Westover Townhouse Battle Continues — Arlington County is weighing both a historic district and a “Housing Conservation District” for Westover, to protect aging but affordable garden apartments from being redeveloped into $800,000 townhomes. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) Surveillance video appears to show a man loading The Italian Store’s Vespa scooter into his car and then driving away.
The still-missing 1966 Celeste Green Vespa scooter disappeared Saturday evening from outside The Italian Store’s Westover location around 5 p.m., the business said.
The footage shows a man allegedly loading the Vespa into a red Ford Focus before driving away on N. Longfellow Street. The video is from behind the nearby Ayers Variety & Hardware Store (5853 Washington Blvd).
In a recent Facebook post, The Italian Store said they are waiting for the case to be assigned a detective by the Arlington County Police Department for more examination. They also urged anyone with surveillance cameras along N. Longfellow Street to share any footage they may have from that day.
There was a possible sighting of the car at around 10:30 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday) at the nearby intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, prompting a police response.
A woman said she saw a “suspicious” red car in the neighborhood and posted about it on an app. Someone who saw that post told the store owner, who then called the police. The woman thought the car was suspicious because she had never seen it before.
Several police units responded to the scene but the car was nowhere to be found and there was no evidence that it might have been the same suspect vehicle.
Vespa Update:We have obtained video of a man loading up the Vespa into the red Ford Focus shown behind Ayers Hardware…
Photos via Facebook
Arlington, we need your help! Yesterday (12/2) between 3-6pm the 1966 Celeste Green Vespa was stolen from the Westover…
Long-time local business The Italian Store has lost a piece of its history to a thief.
The restaurant’s 1966 Celeste Green Vespa scooter, which “has welcomed customers to the store for the past 20 years,” was stolen Saturday evening around 5 p.m. from its Westover location, the business said on Facebook.
The Italian Store also released a screenshot from a surveillance video (below) showing the alleged Vespa bandit absconding with the vehicle down N. Longfellow Street.
The restaurant said it has contacted the Arlington County Police Department but it is seeking the public’s help in getting the Vespa back. Dozens of people have commented with words of sympathy and encouragement on the Facebook post.
After the recent fight over the Westover Beer Garden’s outdoor seating, the Arlington County Board will consider some changes at its meeting next month.
Under a plan put forward by staff, the County Board could review the seating capacity and hours of piped-in music in outdoor seats governed by a use permit, like the Westover Beer Garden, on a case-by-case basis. It would mean the Board can approve exceptions to the rules of a use permit individually.
Standards that cannot be modified under a use permit include parking requirements, the use of portable lights and furniture and tying their opening hours to the attached restaurant’s.
The beer garden at 5863 Washington Blvd ran into difficulties earlier this year when it tried to add to its outdoor seating as county use permits expressly forbid having more outdoor seats than indoor seats.
That stands in contrast to the just-open Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn, which has many more seats outside than inside and can do so because it went through a site plan process, which requires County Board approval and is much more involved than a standard administrative permit process.
Similarly, the proposed beer garden known as “The Lot” in Clarendon would need to go through a site plan process to ensure it can have more seats outside than inside under the current rules.
Staff said outdoor seating cannot be considered as permanent seating for a restaurant, and must continue to be treated as an optional extra.
“Because it is an accessory use, an outdoor café is not considered a permanent expansion of a restaurant’s seating capacity, as it is a transitory use which provides patrons with additional seating options on days with pleasant weather,” staff wrote. “The accessory outdoor café also goes largely unused during periods of cold, snow, and rain.”
The County Board voted unanimously Saturday to hold a public hearing on the subject at its November meeting. Staff will make a recommendation on whether the Board should adopt the changes beforehand, with the Planning Commission also set to weigh in.
Photo via Facebook.
Cosplay is a hobby where participants dress up to represent characters from books, comics, television shows or movies, and now Arlingtonians can learn more with four free events.
“It’s about empowering our patrons through a hybrid of art, fashion, role play, books and sub (geek) culture,” a library spokesman said. “We provide our patrons with the opportunity to transform themselves into their favorite characters from their favorite shows.”
Tonight, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road), photographer Ashley Loth and cosplay model Jillian Ryan will teach cosplayers how to pose their models, set a storyline and bring their cosplay to life in photographs. The event is aimed at adults and mature high schoolers.
On Tuesday, September 12 at the Westover Branch Library, Star Wars fans can meet the 501st Legion from 7-8:30 p.m. The legion has “spread the magic of the Star Wars genre worldwide” by wearing authentic costumes and hosting charity events, according to an event listing.
September’s Casual Monthly Drawing Meet-Up on Tuesday, September 19 will be themed around cosplay from 6:30-8:30 p.m., while on Saturday, September 30, the Westover Branch Library will host a panel discussion on what it’s like to cosplay when you are a “minority nerd.” The discussion lasts from 1-2:30 p.m., with panelists expected to share their diverse perspectives.
The month of events comes hot on the heels of International Cosplay Day, which took place on the weekend of August 26 and 27 and saw themed events held across the world.
Photo via Twitter
Drivers in Westover and East Falls Church can expect traffic delays and detours in the coming weeks as the state and county repave and add bike lanes to Washington Blvd.
The project by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the street, is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with repaving between Lee Highway and N. McKinley Road.
After that repaving is complete, staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will install green bicycle lanes, bollards and way-finding signs for bicyclists. At some points, the lanes will have a buffer as wide as two or three feet from traffic. The county and VDOT coordinated on a design plan for the new striping earlier this year.
(1/2) In the next two weeks, VDOT plans to mill and pave Washington Blvd (from Lee Hwy to N McKinley Rd) b/w 9:30a-3p (subject to change).
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 25, 2017
(2/2) Cars can't be parked on the street & traffic detours will be in place. Restriping after paving will include a redesign w/ bike lanes.
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 25, 2017
At one stage, the plan had been for continuous bike lanes along Washington Blvd. But those plans were nixed earlier this year and revised.
Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to shorter stretches. Westbound the lane will run between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets. Eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.
Staff said they anticipate between 16 and 19 parking spaces on the street will be lost out of around 150 in total. In turn, Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) is expected to increase its parking capacity to 15 spaces.
DES staff said the project has a number of benefits for those in the area:
- Enhance bicycle infrastructure where it does not currently exist
- Help stitch together the expanding Capital Bikeshare system (a new station was installed at the East Falls Church metro station in 2016 and two new stations will be installed in Westover in 2017 and 2018).
- Connect to existing bicycle lanes on Washington Boulevard between Westover and Lacy Woods Park.
- Create a nearly two-mile stretch of bicycle lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.
- Narrow unnecessarily wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.
- Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.
- Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bicycle lanes.
- Pedestrian safety improvements at key intersections with highly visible markings for crosswalks (pending VDOT approval). Center line “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs may also be installed.
During the work, DES says parking will be prohibited on Washington Blvd and detours will be in place.
Next year, staff will collect additional usage data to track cars, bicycles, pedestrians and parking.
Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement criticized the recent demolitions of more garden apartments in Westover to make way for townhomes.
Clement, a frequent candidate for public office, said the demolition of two more apartment buildings in the neighborhood shows that not enough is being done to protect affordable housing, especially as they are replaced by what she described as “luxury townhomes.”
Much of Westover is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties. Last year, crews tore down a garden apartment building and replaced it with townhouses in by-right development, meaning County Board approval was not required.
At the time, the Arlington Greens called for the Westover apartments to be designated as a local historic district, something the County Board directed staff to study last year. Since 2013, nine garden apartment buildings have been demolished, Clement said.
Clement criticized developers for razing the properties and the county for cashing in thanks to increased property taxes.
“County records indicate that the sale price of the three Westover garden apartments demolished in 2013 was $4 million,” Clement said. “The total sale price of the 20 luxury town homes that replaced them was $16.8 million dollars or more than 4 times the value of the original properties.”
An advertisement for the Arlington Row townhomes that ran on ARLnow.com earlier this year advertised the homes as being priced in the “mid-$800s.” The townhomes feature up to four bedrooms and four baths, plus private garages and “timeless brick architecture.” The first phase of the development quickly sold out.
Clement said designating the units as a local historic district is the “only way” to save the remaining apartments, but she criticized the Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board for not moving faster on a petition to do so that was submitted last year.
She added that the demolition of affordable housing units in the county causes numerous problems:
For one thing, there’s a fairness issue. A lot of longstanding, hardworking, responsible tenants are now facing long commutes as a result of displacement from Arlington County.
For another thing, there’s a public health issue. The most recent demolitions were put on hold when it was determined that both buildings were insulated with asbestos, making demolition hazardous for anyone in the nearby.
And there’s an economic issue. While the speculative prices commanded by the developers of Westover Village might be attractive to high income wage earners, they drive up assessments overall, spelling hardship and possible foreclosure for people on fixed incomes, single heads of households, and those who find themselves out of work.
In a fact sheet produced last year, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing said it made some headway in 2016 by purchasing 68 Westover apartments in five buildings. But APAH noted that since the county adopted its Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015, 60 apartments have been demolished for redevelopment.
Clement promised to speed up approval of historic districts to protect affordable housing if she wins a seat on the County Board in November.
“If elected, I am going to call upon AHALRB to expedite consideration of petitions for local historic designation to preserve Arlington’s remaining affordable housing and stabilize Arlington’s housing market,” Clement said.
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Advocates for the Westover Beer Garden helped convince the County Board to try to change the local law governing outdoor seating at restaurants and bars.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to suggest revisions to County Code to provide more flexibility to those who wish to add more seats outside than inside.
Under current law, the beer garden at 5863 Washington Blvd cannot add to its outdoor seating, as county use permits expressly forbid having more outdoor seats than indoor seats.
That stands in contrast to the soon-to-open Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn, which has many more seats outside than inside and can do so because it went through a site plan process, which requires County Board approval and is much more involved than a standard administrative permit process.
“We have recently heard from the owner and many patrons that they would like the opportunity to expand the outdoor seating at the Westover Beer Garden beyond the number currently permitted by law,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said. “As it turns out, the long-standing County Code places significant restrictions on outdoor seating for retail establishments – and specifically prohibits flexibility if governed through a use permit, while allowing more flexibility if sought through a site plan amendment.”
Supporters of the Westover Beer Garden showed up to Tuesday’s meeting to testify on the Continental Beer Garden and highlight the differences between the two. Westover has faced an ongoing battle with the county over its outdoor seating, as it applied recently to expand its currently-allowed 24 seats and its live music offerings.
Having exceeded that total and received a citation from the county, Westover must comply with its use permit by June 1. But owner Dave Hicks said sticking to 24 seats will cause problems for the business.
“If required on June 1 to reduce seating to 24 seats (a third of what we have now), Westover Market is not a viable business,” Hicks wrote on the “Save the Westover Beer Garden” Facebook page. “June is one of our busiest months. We have 22 employees and would have to reduce that number by half. But even that wouldn’t pay the rent, taxes, electricity and other fixed expenses.”
Fisette set the goal of the County Board taking action by October, after a review process that will involve the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee of the Planning Commission. Planning director Robert Duffy said staff will work “aggressively” to meet that goal.
Board member John Vihstadt said revising the County Code will mean “equitability in terms of our planning,” while Fisette said it is important to protect places like the Westover Beer Garden.
“Part of Arlington’s success has been in creating active public spaces and a vibrant pedestrian realm,” Fisette said. “We recognize the value of lively and safe community gathering spaces which bring people together and help knit the fabric of our various neighborhoods — places such as the Westover Beer Garden.”
Kalina Newman contributed reporting.
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. “
A spokesman for the county’s department of environmental services said that after previously considering a nearly two-mile stretch of bike lanes from N. Sycamore Street to George Mason Drive, staff has revised their plan.
Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to a shorter stretch, westbound between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets; eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.
“The revised plan would still provide bicycling facilities both eastbound and westbound from East Falls Church to Westover Village, albeit with a section along neighborhood streets, while also minimizing the impact to parking in the middle section that was most heavily impacted in the initial proposal, including the preservation of parking in front of and across from the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not have off-street parking,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet said.
The project is part of a wider re-paving plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which controls that section of Washington Blvd.
The initial plan of bicycle lanes in each direction, improved pedestrian crossings and other improvements was shared publicly last March and received more than 400 comments. County staff then broke them down into categories to get a sense of the main areas of support and concern. Staff then integrated those comments into their revisions of the proposal.
Balliet said the revised plan “continues to meet all major goals with fewer impacts on parking in the middle section where impacts were most acute.”
But bicycling advocates vented their frustration at the change. In a blog post published yesterday on the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website, WABA staff member Garrett Hennigan blasted the changes.
“Following the first meeting, supportive comments poured in from neighborhood residents. 65 percent of comments supported the bike lanes as did 55 percent of comments from neighborhood residents,” Hennigan wrote. “Now, to save some parking spaces and appease a vocal minority, the County has thrown out the public process, abandoned years of planning and determined that putting people on bikes at risk is a fair compromise.”
A community meeting on the project’s latest iteration will be held tonight at 5 p.m. in the Reed-Westover Building at 1644 N. McKinley Road.
Photo via Google Maps
More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]
New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]
Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]