BALLSTON-VIRGINIA SQUARE

Civic Association Newsletter

May/June 1997 - Volume 20, No. 7



DEMETER HOUSE--UPDATE

On April 22, 1997, Circuit Court Judge Richard Jamborsky, of Fairfax County, ruled against the Plaintiffs in Candage Vs. Arlington County and Vanguard Services Unlimited, the case involving citizens of Barcroft who opposed relocation of Demeter House, a drug rehabilitation facility, into a single- family dwelling in their neighborhood. Judge Jamborsky noted in his opinion that the Plaintiffs' strongest argument was that the decision to relocate violated the County's Master Land Use Plan, but their arguments regarding public health, safety, and diminution of property values were not compelling enough to find for the Plaintiffs.

Barcroft citizens are strongly leaning toward filing an appeal in this case. In the interim, the County Board met in Executive Session to discuss the possibility of purchasing the $375,000 home at 4317 South 6th Street, in the event that Vanguard Services could not obtain conventional financing, as it claimed it could not while litigation was pending. Outraged Barcrofters demanded a meeting with Chairman Ellen Bozman, the day after this announcement was made in the Arlington Journal. Chairman Bozman announced that the problem was moot, as Vanguard had obtained "private financing" for the house, and the County was not going to be involved. Chairman Bozman further stated, when questioned extensively by Rocco Saracina of Barcroft, that the County was not providing any financing of any sort to Vanguard in connection with Demeter House. The following day, the Arlington Journal announced that Vanguard had indeed procured a private lender for the property.

On May 20, 1997, representatives of Barcroft and Vanguard met in a Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting, at which Debbie Volz, Chief Executive Officer of Vanguard, announced that a "by right" use was to be made of the property at South 6th Street until such time, as the issue of Demeter House was out of litigation. She has proposed to move in 8 men from the Phoenix Program, another of Vanguard's Arlington programs, a detox program for men. With a "by right" basis (not requiring a use permit), Barcrofters will have no say over what occurs at the property.

This case establishes the precedent for the placement of a group home for 18 residents and six staff anywhere in any Arlington neighborhood. For further information, contact Rocco Saracina, at 920-0748.



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