Fairlington Zoning Issue
During the public comment portion of our meeting, Guy Land came from the Fairlington Citizens Association (of which I am a member) to alert the Board to an odd problem in the zoning code that affects Fairlington, which was built before the zoning code existed. For the past 80-some years, many renovations within Fairlington units were routinely approved. However, recently someone noticed that these routine approvals are actually not in sync with the zoning code as it is currently written. Now, after all these years, many changes that were simple to approve in the past need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for a waiver. Everyone, including the BZA, is finding this a frustrating waste of time. I am hopeful we can resolve it quickly and without the usual lengthy process a zoning amendment can take.
New Hotel and Residential Project
We approved a site plan for the Bingham Center which includes a 10-story hotel and an 11-story mixed-use residential building at 3200 Wilson and Irving Street where the Silver Diner has been. I think it will be a big improvement to the area, and am pleased that the developer will have green roofs. I’ve decided that we really need to try to make every roof either covered in some kind of green plants, amenities like a pool, or solar panels; and hopefully both plants AND solar panels. Solar panels perform better (15% I think) over a green roof than a plain one. This is pleasing for people and insects, good for the environment and adds to our energy resiliency. While this project doesn’t do all this, it is getting close.
Also, in exchange for additional density there are public benefits: 15 on-site affordable units and neighborhood improvements including construction of “Irving Plaza” as well as off-site public space improvements in the Clarendon Revitalization District.
For those of you who have ever needed to work with the County on an issue as a resident, you know how important our Ombudsman position is. Ben Aiken served very ably in that role, but left a few months ago. We now have a new Director of Constituent Services, Kevin Connolly. He is familiar with Arlington and has been with our Department of Environmental Services for years. I’m very glad to have him on board beginning October 9.
Support for our Disability Community
I attended the ribbon cutting for our Irving Street group home this week. It is net zero and provides an inviting home for up to 6 residents with developmental and physical disabilities. Also, there is a respite care room families can use when they need to get a break but cannot leave their loved one unattended. It is beautiful and a real model for quality care. The cost of care in a traditional, larger institution tends to be very expensive and much less effective or pleasant. A group house can be a home where the residents thrive. Arlington County taxes paid for most of the building, but we had a good $1M grant from the Commonwealth. Our neighbors with developmental delays and disabilities can and should be integrated into our community as much as possible in order to flourish.
If you like ice cream (who doesn’t?), I encourage you to visit Jake’s Ice Cream which trains and hires workers with disabilities. It is great to see their work in action and the ice cream is delicious. Similarly, the Woodmont Weavers have a shop on the 3rd floor of the Sequoia Building if you’d like to do some holiday shopping there. I regularly buy small bags as gifts and have one as my regular purse. Their handmade products are beautiful and useful.
I am excited about an event on OCTOBER 15, 3:00 – 5:00 PM: TALKING WITH PURPOSE. Scott Sklar, Adjunct Professor & Sustainable Energy Director (EEMI) The George Washington University and CEO, The Stella Group, Ltd., will be talking about energy resiliency and equity. We will have a discussion after about the topic. I believe Arlington needs to be much more energy resilient given the climate and human-made disasters that are possible and happening with increasing frequency. This is a fundraiser for Susan Cunningham, Maureen Coffey and myself. I hope you will attend not only to support us but to learn about how we all can become more energy-resilient. Please sign via the link below and then the address will be given to you. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/oct15arlington
September is Emergency Preparedness Month
I encourage you to go to ReadyArlington.com. Everyone should be ready to handle an emergency. No one can imagine all the possible emergencies (although just staying current with the news will provide many possible scenarios), but there are constants for what you will need: information, shelter, food and water. At ReadyArlington.com you can sign up for Arlington Alert, learn about WERA 96.7 radio and more. It’s possible that phones and internet won’t work, so a battery/solar-operated radio is crucial to have. Another great item to have on hand is a headlamp. It’s better than a flashlight since you don’t have to hold it. Please make a plan for what you and your family will do if power is out or if you cannot call each other.
Link for Arlington info: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Departments/PSCEM/Emergency-Preparedness
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUfsg1FpBOY: start at minute 23:18 for my presentation.
Department of Planning and Housing Development
Finally, our Department of Planning and Housing Development released a video explaining what it is that they do: zoning and inspection. I found it interesting and learned a few things. Ensuring that we all live in safe buildings is a big job! https://youtu.be/5W-Ay0FpxSc?si=EOIpe2Gund93QFRP – see minute 5:20 for how complex the process is, and 8:50 for a real life example of how crucial it is for safety.
As always, I hope you find this newsletter helpful and I’m always pleased for feedback.