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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee
on Infill Development Policy

From Ron Carlee, Arlington County Manager

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. Thanks.

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 review.

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.

Ron Carlee
County Manager
2100 Clarendon Blvd - Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone 703-228-3120
Fax 703-228-3295

This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.
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