President's Mid-Summer Bulletin
Civic Federation and Zoning Changes,
and County Fair Information
Well -- I was hoping that I could make it to the end of the summer and get
all the new news out in our September Civic Voice Newsletter. However --
there are a couple of hot items that I need to get the word out on -- so
with apologies for adding to your email load -- here are couple of things I
want to update you.
The Civic Federation will have a booth again this year
at the Fair. Our primary goal at this event is connecting citizens visiting
the booth with our member organizations. For the Civic Associations -- we
will have the big Civic Association map out again to ask folks to locate
their home. Once we get them to do that, we show them web pages for their
respective area or offer them information about their Civic Association
like, how to join, who to contact, etc. In the case of other civic
organizations -- provide them with information about them and who to
The fair will kick off next week on Thursday afternoon. If you have old
newsletter, flyers or brochures for your organization that you would like to
have us pass out -- come on by the booth (E-16) as early on as possible and
drop them off. We would be pleased to help boost our member organizations!
If you have questions or want to drop off early, contact Pat Smaldore, our
Fair Booth coordinator at "firstname.lastname@example.org". Remember -
about 80,000 folks make this event --its a great outreach opportunity.
Infill Ordinance Changes
As most of you know there has been
plenty of information and misinformation about upcoming proposed changes to
the ordinances on such things as lot coverage, pipe-stem lots, height rules
and what-not. The first set of changes proposed by the Zoning Ordinance
Review Committee created quite a stir -- with ads being run in the paper,
folks calling the Civic Federation concerned about future home improvements
and such. One could say that there's lots of confusion on this issue.
To help clear some of this up, the Federation is planning on hosting a late
September (3rd or 4th week) meeting on this issue. We are going to invite
County Staff, the ZORC Chair and others (including the Concerned Arlington
County Homeowners) to discuss this and begin formulating a Federation
position. I'll let you know the exact date when we get everyone's schedule
This last week I received the following email from the County Manager, Ron
Carlee, asking the Federation to help get the word out on exactly what the
County is contemplating and clear some of the air. There is a link in here
for a letter from the County Board.
Here's Ron's note:
From Ron Carlee, Arlington County Manager
Could you please put the following through the Civic Federation's e-mail
distribution? I want to assure people that I will not consider making
recommendations that will kill reinvestment in our neighborhoods. That was
never ZORC's intent nor the County Board's directive. We really are looking
at how to control egregious development that is harmful to neighborhoods.
At this point, research is still in progress and there is no recommendation
from me to the Board. Also, people should see the Chairman's letter on the
County Board's web site (http://www.co.arlington.va.us/cbo/lot_letter.htm).
County Manager Commentary in the Arlington Sun Gazette
"I would like to clarify recent public discussions on the issue of
residential lot coverage in Arlington County. Most importantly, I want to
stress that there are no recommendations before the County Board to amend
the zoning ordinance at this time. Any recommendations that may be developed
in the future will be widely circulated in the community for review and a
public hearing held before any consideration by the County Board.
Arlington County has become such a desirable place to live that people are
now willing to build houses on virtually every available vacant piece of
property. The high price of the property frequently results in builders
wanting to build the biggest house possible on a lot. This has even led to
houses being demolished to build bigger, new houses.
Much of the new development and redevelopment are appropriate and healthy
for the sustainability of a mature urban community; however, some of the
development has been significantly different than the scale and character of
the surrounding neighborhood. Thus, we began an effort to deal with
complaints from the community about the most egregious development � what
some people refer to as monster houses or "McMansions." Our challenge is to
define what is egregious development and how it can be limited while
permitting and even encouraging continued investment in our residential
neighborhoods. Through a community review process, issues already considered
relate to set backs and height. Coverage and pipe stem lots are now under
At this point, I have concluded that we do not have adequate data on which
to base a recommendation on coverage. We need to have better data on actual
existing coverage in our different residential zones under the existing
ordinance. We then need to have a very clear understanding of the actual
rather than the hypothetical impacts of any alternatives we may consider.
Only after this work is completed will I bring forward recommendations for
community and County Board consideration.
The discussion that has occurred in the community has helped bring a greater
awareness to this issue. Our job as County staff is to develop well
researched alternatives that help us sustain the most desirable residential
communities in the Washington area. I expect it to take several months to
produce the quality product that is expected of us.
2100 Clarendon Blvd - Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Civic Federation Response:
I'd be very happy to help out.
First -- we'll post this note, if its okay on the Federation web site.
Second, I'll email it to my distribution list for the Federation's
Ron, as I mentioned in July, I'm still planning on holding a meeting for the
Federation on this issue. At last week's Executive Committee meeting, we
decided to plan a special Federation meeting in the 3rd or 4th week of
depending on when Monica Craven, Carrie Johnson and Staff (whomever you
would like to participate) are available. I'd really like to clear the air
of confusion and misinformation on this issue vis-�-vis impacts.
Will keep you posted on this.
Cheers. Jim Pebley
This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.