BALLSTON-VIRGINIA SQUARE

Civic Association Newsletter

October/November 1996 - Volume 20, No. 2



BOARD APPROVES DEMETER HOUSE PROPOSAL

At the County Board Meeting of October 5, 1996, the County Board voted 3-2 to approve a maximum of 18 persons, subject to the conditions of the staff report and with a review in six months, the special use permit requested by Vanguard Services Unlimited, contract owner, to put the Demeter House in the Barcroft residential R-6 district. Chairman Jim Hunter, Vice- chair Ellen Bozman, and Board Member Al Eisenberg voted to support the Demeter House proposal, and Board Members Paul Ferguson and Chris Zimmerman voted in opposition. Arlington Staff Report

Briefly, the staff report shows that the Demeter House program is a residential substance abuse treatment program for low- income substance abusing mothers and their dependent children. The existing use permit (U-2575-88-1) allows a total of 18 people in two houses on South Monroe Street in the New Arlington Douglas Park neighborhood. That use permit has operated on that site since 1988. The use was reviewed and continued with minimal complaints and with the support of the neighborhood. The proposed use permit request represents a relocation and expansion of an existing dormitory for substance abusing women and their children with a maximum of 22 persons.

The use is eligible for special exception use permit approval as a dormitory under any single-family zoning category in the County. The use permit would set the overall maximum number of persons permitted on the site for a dormitory use. In addition to the use permit, the use would be licensed by the State of Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. In its determination of the maximum number of residents approved for licensing purposes, the State employs a requirement of 60 square feet of bedroom space per person (adult and child). Thus, State licensing requirements would allow 22 persons in the proposed facility. Dormitories are an allowed use by special exception in all residential districts.

The applicant has agreed to all applicable conditions of the existing use permit (see existing attached existing conditions (U-2575-88-1). Staff has eliminated non-applicable conditions of the existing use permit, amended conditions where appropriate, and included any existing conditions which apply to this use. The conditions are aimed at mitigating potential impacts in the area. Based on staff's assessment of the land use impacts, staff finds that the use, if well managed with citizen involvement, would not have greater impacts than many other uses of a similar size which could be located in a single family area as a conditional use subject to securing a use permit. Therefore, staff recommended that the use permit be approved with subject to the conditions of the staff report and with a review in one (1) year. (October 1997)

Barcroft School and Civic League

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association obtained information from the Barcroft School and Civic League, the neighborhood Civic Association for the Barcroft area, that Vanguard Services wanted to buy the house at 4317 Sixth Street South for a program for mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children. The house is large and located on a pipestem lot on a quiet street with little traffic. The site plan amendment request recommended for approval by County Manager Anton Gardner to the Board would have had a maximum of 15 mothers and 7 children, or 22 total residents. In addition, Vanguard staff members who would not live in the house would be on duty in three shifts 24 hours a day. Parking would be paved for staff cars and the program's van.

The Barcroft School and Civic League held a number of meetings, with 238 people present at the final one where they adopted their neighborhood position. With less than a dozen dissenting votes, the Barcroft School and Civic League decided to oppose the approval of the use permit for the following reasons: The proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of our Neighborhood Conservation Plan emphasizing single family homes and with the siting of other Arlington County treatment facilities housed in single family homes. Also, the program is too large for a single family home on a narrow street in a quiet neighborhood. The block now has only 52 residents in 21 homes. Adding 22 residents and four to six daytime staff, plus volunteers, normal support activities and services for the residents will impact heavily on the neighborhood, increasing the block's population by 40%. The proposal represents an unreasonable increase in density and traffic that would fundamentally change the environment of the neighborhood.

BVSCA RESPONSE TO DEMETER HOUSE PROPOSAL The Association's Executive Committee met on Wednesday evening, October 2, 1996, and adopted a resolution in support of the Barcroft School and Civic League's position to oppose a special use permit for a Demeter House proposed dormitory at the premises known as 4317 South 6th Street.

This proposed dormitory or group home for substance abusing women and their dependent children, will have a maximum of 22 residents, six daytime staff, and possibly other care providers. The Executive Committee of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association concluded: (1) that this proposal is inconsistent with the R-6 One-Family Dwelling district zoning, (2) that a facility of this magnitude will adversely affect the traffic and quality of life of this neighborhood, and (3) that this proposal, more importantly, if approved by the Board, will change the character of the neighborhood.

Also, some members of the Committee expressed concern that this proposal, if approved by the Board, would set a harmful precedent for future use permits for dormitory programs elsewhere in Arlington, because the proposal is so unreasonable in terms of size, in our opinion, for a R-6 One-Family Dwelling district.

Other Executive Committee members expressed concern that such a material change in the use of the existing residential home could result in significant additional costs. For example, some members stated that the existing flooring, wiring, and plumbing would need major alteration work in order to accommodate the proposed magnitude of use; otherwise, the existing building could rapidly deteriorate from such use.

The Association urged the County Board orally and in writing to disapprove this proposed use permit. The following are some of the highlights of the testimony provided by 60-plus speakers for and against the special land use permit change request.

Letter Provided to Board at the County Board Meeting of October 5, 1996:

September 22, 1996

TO: Mr. Mitchell Dale (Barcroft Resident)

I am responding to your request for my professional opinion as to whether the relocation of a 22-resident treatment facility in one house on South 6th Street will have a negative impact on real estate values in the surrounding neighborhood.

Basically, if 22 people moved into any residence on South 6th Street, you can probably forget about reselling nearby homes at anywhere near their current value. I do not mean to malign a halfway house; however, if any type of 22 adult group moves into a house across the street from you, you must assuredly are going to be negatively impacted. On top of the group residence, if they install a parking lot and a dumpster for garbage, these also would obviously impact the neighborhood negatively. The thing that is most disturbing to me is that we have zoning laws precisely to prevent this type of thing and to preserve the harmonious character of single-family residential neighborhoods.

As I understand Arlington County law, "dormitories" for up to 8 residents (plus staff) are considered to be a single-family residential use, and any facility more populous than that is allowable only if such a facility would not be injurious to surrounding properties or in conflict with the purposes of the County's Master Land Use Plan. I have visited the proposed site. In my view, permitting this proposed use in a singe house in the interior of the Barcroft neighborhood, which is zoned as an R-6 single-family dwelling district, would be injurious to property values and flout the purposes of the County's Land Use Plan.

I hope this advice is helpful. Please do not hesitate to call if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Jake Sullivan

Long & Foster Realtors, NVSR Top Producer, NVAR Million Dollar Sales Club

ACTA President Timothy Wise: "Good morning County Board my name is Timothy Wise and I'm the president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, most often known as ACTA, and I would quickly like to present some observations about the proposed move of the Demeter House to 4317 South Sixth Street. We've reviewed the County Manager's Board Report on this item and listened to the extended debate at the October 1st meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation, where the federation voted to support the Barcroft School and Civic League's position on this.

We have also reviewed the correspondence, which the manager's staff has made available and its obvious that passions certainly run very deep on this issue. And finally, we reviewed the discussion and analysis of the issues on Barcroft's Internet Home Page. As a result, we have the following comments. First, there's much to said about the goal of preserving the neighborhood's essential character as an area of single family homes. Adding the 22 Demeter House residents and the 6 or more employees to the existing 52 people in the block will increase density in this block by over 50%. This is not fair to the current residents. This will increase activity and traffic on the street and diminish stability in the neighborhood. It will seriously risk reducing property values in the neighborhood. And although staff may see nothing wrong with putting 22 people and 6 full-time staff into a house such as this, and I'm sure you're going to hear more about this later, a realtor or at least one has said in writing that nearby homeowners could likely forget about reselling their homes at any where near their current value.

And further, we understand that the owner ("I have just one more thought," as the buzzer sounded) that the owners of a nearby house was put up for sale just before Vanguard became the contract owner and they have yet to receive an offer for their house. So in conclusion Mr. Chairman, you're playing with peoples' economic lives and their hopes as well as the future economy of Arlington County. But since the listing agent for this house Monte Davis is a former Republican candidate for the County Board, it's comforting to know that this effort is bipartisan."

Next speaker Thomas Brooke: "Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr Wise is absolutely right. This is a group that is supported by bipartisan efforts where Republicans and Democrats serve on the various boards. I'm the Secretary-Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Vanguard Services Unlimited. I've been on the Board for about four-and-one-half years. And ever since the discussion about this move came up, like most of us on the Board, we've been getting phone calls and button-holed at places like the County Fair and other places have asked about it, what's going on? What's this all about? And one question people ask me all the time, well you wouldn't want them to move into your neighborhood, would you?

I say, sure move them in, not a problem. This is not an operation that attracts criminal activity, the residents don't engage in criminal activity, they don't attract people who engage in criminal activity, they do not have a big footprint and we certainly don't lower property values. We haven't done so in the past. We don't intend to do so in the future.

I happen to be a strong believer in residential drug treatment programs. This is an essential program. My understanding of what it is Vanguard does and Demeter House does is based upon several years on the Board and the personal experiences I've observed with my family and my friends. I know that substance abuse is a terrible problem, you need residential programs to beat it. The people that enter these programs as Ms. Volz spoke of, have a sincere desire to end their addiction. These are not people who were arrested last night and they're just thrown into a Detox Center. These people are off drugs. We don't have people who are on drugs entering into these programs. These are people who are off drugs now and trying to learn a new life style and to pick up the tools they need to get off drugs and to become contributing members of our society. So I speak in favor of this move and I appreciate your time. Thank you."

Board Member Ferguson: "Mr. Brooke, I have a question. I am familiar with you and that you were Henriette Warfield's Campaign Manager when I was running against her. You talked about bi-partisanship. Do you have a current position with the Republican Committee?"

Thomas Brooke: "The Republican Committee has not taken a position on this."

Board Member Ferguson: "Do you personally have a position?"

Thomas Brooke: "Do I personally?

Board Member Ferguson: "Yes." Thomas Brooke: "Well, absolutely I'm in favor of this." Board Member Ferguson: "Are you an officer, or what's your title?"

Thomas Brooke: "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm the secretary of the Republican Party, but the Republican Party does not have an official position on this."

Board Member Ferguson: "Thank you."

Chairman Hunter: "Thank you Mr. Brooke."

BVSCA President Ragland: "Ernie Ragland, President of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association. Our [formal] statement was just previously read. Our Executive Committee met on Wednesday, October 2, 1996, we voted unanimously to support the Barcroft School and Civic League's position to oppose this special use permit.

I would like to add a couple of additional observations, having been a resident of Arlington County since 1975 and having observed the Barcroft School and Civic League's participation in Arlington County activities, the Civic Federation, and its Home Page on the Internet, recognizing that it was the first Civic Association in this County to put their Home Page on the Internet. They have reflected the highest standard and commitment of any association that I have seen to date. I admire their work, I admire their participation, and I would urge that you support their view.

I think it's most important to send a signal that residential communities in Arlington deserve the highest consideration and that all citizens should be treated fairly. These people have played by the rules, they are taxpayers, they have made investment decisions, and I think on balance you have to recognize that. I also recognize Vanguard's role in the community. They serve a very important role; however, this project is much too big for that residential neighborhood in the existing R-6 residential district zoning requirements. We need to be very careful on this decision, so that we don't adversely affect this residential neighborhood. Also, you need to send a signal to the other residential neighborhoods that they can be fairly, consistently, and evenly treated. Thank you."

Former Planning Commissioner Jim Charleton: "Good afternoon Members of the Board. Barcroft has some just complaints about the nature of this use, about the scale, and about the manner in which it was sited in the neighborhood without notice or reference to the county's siting principles which now sit moldering and gathering dust. The residential uses in this County should not be so abused that institutional uses can move at will into single family neighborhoods.

Twenty-two people in a single house is an institutional use. Yet, a zoning change that would permit that kind of use has been heard, though deferred by the Planning Commission. Another provision championed by former ABC President, Planning Commissioner and County Board aspirant, Barbara Favola, sought to open Arlington's single-family neighborhoods to single-room occupancy, (i.e., flop houses). If it had not been for a few of us willing to raise questions, these zoning changes would already be in place and there would be no public hearing today because this would be a by-right use. The effect of such proposals is to degrade single family neighborhoods and to solidify the County's defacto system of socio-economic zoning, in which certain neighborhoods bear the brunt of undesirable uses and others are forever exempted simply because their real estate values are higher.

And Barcroft comes today to protest this use and I received a call to come to their aid. I have and I have before, and I have been played a fool before by this Civic Association. Let me ask you Barcroft, where your civic leaders have been as these developments I described have unfolded? Where have your leaders been since 1991, when all South Arlington rose with you to protest the Board's and the Manager's Plan to put a 120 bed facility on the edge of your park? Within days of the withdrawal of the plan, your leaders were having members of this County Board to dine at your community building. Right Randy?

And your leaders were nowhere to be seen when the Homeless Detoxification Center of 68 beds was flopped down at the other end of Columbia Pike. Where's Barcroft been as member after member of this Board stood for reelection and shoved social services facilities into other neighborhoods? Where's this neighborhood been when your favorite daughter, Ms. Darner, who never lets her sentimental liberalism interfere with justice or equity, year after year refuses to even introduce an aggressive panhandling law that would give the residents of our metro zones some relief. Where's Barcroft been?

Barcroft has overwhelming supported all of these candidates for office year after year, election after election. Yon Jim Hunter hath a lean and hungry look. He has no opponent for reelection. There sits Eisenberg like a stone wall where he has for 13 years. He was reelected last year with Barcroft's overwhelming vote. Good Queen Ellen has served on this Board during six presidencies. Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Zimmerman are also Barcroft's choice. You get what you vote for and you're going to get it today!"

Barcroft Resident Mellen Candage: "Chairman Hunter, Members of the Board. My name is Mellen Candage and I and my family reside directly across the street from the proposed institution. We settled in Barcroft nearly a decade ago, in part because the County advertised Barcroft as a community-oriented, quiet, safe, friendly neighborhood with large lots and little development frenzy. We believed that, and we bought into it with both our money and our aspirations. Well, it's clear now that we were duped. First came the pipe stem lots, then the developers' bulldozers. Now comes Vanguard with the most ill-conceived land use proposal ever to be brought up before this Board. A proposal that defies common sense and, if approved, will fly into the face of the authority the state of Virginia vests in the County Board and that makes a mockery of the Board's obligations to tip its hat at the very least to the views of its taxpaying citizens.

Here's a picture of what I saw outside my door when I moved into Barcroft, Mrs. Potts' lovely backyard, a lot just itching to be subdivided. Here's what I saw outside that same front door in 1993 after Dominic Bosco built the largest rectangular structure allowable under zoning regulations. You know, even County employees in County cars used to pass by and stop in front of the house and ask me, How the hell did that thing ever get built? And you know, I didn't know how to answer them then, but I do now because its allowable. And here is what I'll see on the average day when Demeter House moves in, 22 people plus 6 staff. Of course, the parking lot, dumpster, and construction aren't evident yet, but you get the idea, it's quite a crowd.

And why is this astonishingly wrong-headed proposal even being considered? Because, according to County Planning staff, it's allowable. And that's just about as far as their analysis goes. I have a real quarrel with the County on the process followed examining use permit applications. First, staff never validated the quality of operations of the Vanguard program independently; rather, they relied on Vanguard to provide its own evaluations, then parroted the results. Even this morning, Marcia Smith unequivocally announced that the dumpster at South Monroe Street is padlocked all the time. I don't think you checked that out, Ms. Smith. I don't think you independently verified that. I have, and it's not locked all the time. Second, staff never examined Vanguard's financial ability to fund the proposed site at South 6th Street. I would have thought this would be a basic County responsibility, but they didn't do it. And finally, given the strictures of the Virginia State Code with regard to special use permits, you'd think the County would have performed an analysis of the actual impact of the proposed facility on the homes that would be immediately affected by the new Demeter. But they didn't.

In sum, the County provided no survey data to support this application, did no appropriate analysis of comparable programs, offered no testimony, or statements from expert witnesses. I find that inadequate. To paraphrase the planning staff's analytically challenged report, the program "will work on South 6th Street simply because the house meets the state requirement of 65 square feet per person." But even Vanguard hasn't been able to explain what therapeutic benefit can be gained by cramming 22 women and children into a single-family house. Is this the best the County and Vanguard can do for the mothers in treatment and their children? And how will the children, possibly two per mother, now feel about playing from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in that dark basement? Vanguard has no plans to seek a daycare license that would normally be required to protect the rights of such children. Would a truly compassionate Board condone such an arrangement?

And isn't it, after all, economics that is driving this proposal? Demeter House has been operating at a deficit and that's never good news. That barn on South 6th Street stands there vacant, beckoning to Vanguard to move into its spacious new quarters. To do so, Vanguard needs to expand, because every mother and every child, born or unborn, commands a per diem. Now, do you have a drug rehabilitation center, or do you have a day care treatment center? Fewer mothers, plus more children equals less treatment and more funding. But beyond the program itself, which is certainly a worthy one, I do have a problem with Vanguard Services. It has not complied with its current special use permit, period. It was supposed to keep the two properties on South Monroe Street in good repair in appearance, and it did not. And I for one am pretty tired about hearing about all that paint that just didn't stick. Two years ago, more than 40 Kiwanis Club and First Presbyterian Church volunteers spent all day and contributed many thousands of dollars in supplies and effort to revamp those houses inside and out. Now, Vanguard reports they are uninhabitable; of course. On the other hand, they declare them as great rental properties in their advertisement. So where does the truth lie?

The fact is that Vanguard did not maintain those properties and the County never called them on it. So, a use permit condition to maintain a property in good repair to me isn't worth the paper it's written on. Nor is the use permit condition to forbid visitation, which Vanguard blatantly violated until Barcrofters pointed it out to them. They claimed it only recently came to their attention. Is this credible? I don't think so.

Let me conclude by saying I can only imagine what Arlington County will deem allowable on that property across the street from me in the next five, ten, or fifteen years. I'm bound to find out, though, because as several real estate agents whose statements have been submitted for the record will attest, common sense dictates that my home will certainly be unsalable. I certainly wouldn't buy it, and I don't think you would either."

Arlington School Board Member Darlene Mickey: "Good evening Board Members. My name is Darlene Mickey and I live at 4321 South 4th Street in Barcroft. And from my living room, I can look at the back of the house on 6th Street, the one that we are talking about today. And just as an aside, we call it the barn at our house. It's very ugly, it should probably have never been built but it is built and it is there. From my house, I can also hear the laughter of children on the playground that recesses and lunch at Barcroft and it is a very nice sound. Barcroft is a wonderful neighborhood to live in and for my husband and I to be raising our daughter.

We love Barcroft. We've been there only four years now, since 1992, and before that we lived in the New Arlington Douglas Park neighborhood for over twelve years. Again it's a very nice neighborhood to raise a family and we enjoyed it very much. When we were at New Arlington Douglas Park, I was a member of the Civic Association Executive Committee in 1989 when Demeter House was opened there, so I have been through this discussion before. I was also in 1989 on the Board of the Arlington Community Temporary Shelter, which you've heard today mentioned as TACTS which works with abused women and their children and homeless women and their families. We sought to open a second house in the Arlington Park/Ashton Heights neighborhood. Very, very similar concerns were expressed at that time as we've heard today.

Later, I was asked to serve on the citizens committee to look for sites for the homeless shelter and the Detox program which is now on Columbia Pike. Those of us who were on that committee called it privately the committee from hell. It was a very, very, very difficult, long and hard process to come up with a series of sites for a possible shelter like this. I actually did not vote for where it is now, but it is there now. Most recently, I was at the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization as the Executive Director. We had a member of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee slot on that committee from CPRO for the Detox Center Program. There was a neighborhood program appointed at the Lyon Park Shelter for TACTS. There was a neighborhood advisory committee appointed for the Demeter House in New Arlington Douglas Park. And there's almost always a neighborhood advisory committee appointed to work with shelters and programs, group homes after they are cited.

In the three neighborhoods that I've just mentioned, those neighborhood committees did work with the programs and eventually those neighborhood advisory groups decided they didn't need to continue. The Detox Center Neighborhood Committee, our CPRO representative was Colonel Barney Barnes from the Sheraton. The Sheraton was very concerned about property values, about their customers not coming, about security. They spent a lot of money putting up a large security system and lighting system, which later Colonel Barnes told me was a waste of the Sheraton's money. He said he did not believe that the committee needed to continue. Now, Mr. Antonelli feels differently, but Mr. Antonelli feels differently about most things. What I would just like to say is groups homes work very, very hard to fit into the neighborhood. They are the only neighbors that anyone of us have that we can actually ride herd on. Al, if you remember at the TACT Shelter, someone called you to complain that the TACTS home grass was too long and you walked by and said yeah, it's pretty long and you said mow it and it was mowed. None of us can feel that we can do that with our neighbors, or at least we don't want to because we want to get along in the neighborhood and we want our neighborhood to continue to be a friendly place. But what is true about these homes is they can be closely monitored and things can change.

One of my concerns today if you approve this house and I hope and urge that you will, and if the neighborhood advisory committee is appointed, which I'm assuming that it would as a condition that you ask that not only hostile people to the program be appointed to that committee, the people who want actually to make it succeed. I only say that because I have been told people in the neighborhood have said and in fact I was told again this week that this neighborhood would appoint people to the committee that will work very, very hard, to run them out of the neighborhood. That they will harass them, they will harass with phone calls to County Board and County staff members. I hope that's not true because Barcroft is a nice neighborhood, it's a wonderful neighborhood, its a good neighborhood to live in, but I urge to you to support this program."

Arlington Deputy Treasurer Kevin Appel: "Thank you Chairman Hunter and Members of the Board. Most of you know me I'm Kevin Appel, life long resident of Arlington County. I've been a volunteer with Vanguard since 1983 when it was known as ARI or (Alcohol Rehabilitation Incorporated). But I do want to point out that one of the speakers that got up here earlier, I am an attorney and I've been a pro bono volunteer for 13 years for this organization. I will disclose that Ms. Volz did buy me lunch today...In 1985 I was on the Board when we became Vanguard, changed the corporate name. In 1988, I was Chairman of the Board when we created the Demeter Program.

Somebody outside this morning said are you going to disclose the fact that you financed all five sitting Board Members? I will disclose that I take full credit for your election, as I do for every other elected official in Arlington and all the judges who have been appointed. I do take credit for that. I've been a volunteer for the Democratic Party for 18 years and my friend Tom Brooke, who is here before you this morning is on the Executive Committee of the Republican Committee as Mr. Ferguson dragged out of him. We have members of both parties supporting this. We are not taking a partisan stand.

During the 18 years of my involvement for the Democratic Party, I've done a lot of good things. I'll tell you this, probably the best thing that I ever did as a volunteer for any organization was put the Demeter Program into its current facility. I was chairman of the Board and had to meet with the New Arlington Douglas Park Civic Association and I promised them against great opposition that we would be a good neighbor and we kept that promise. And if you choose today, to approve the application, I promise Barcroft that we will be a good neighbor.

Currently, I took a four year leave from the Vanguard Board and then I'm currently now the Vice-Chair for their financial arm, just so you know. I do want to chive the Civic Federation today to take this opportunity. They held a vote the other night, they did not invite Vanguard to participate, they did not tell them they were going to vote, they did not have a presentation, and I would say they violated their own rules, and I think their credibility suffers that they didn't do that. And I would just ask the Civic Federation in the future please if you're going to take a vote on something like this, hear from both sides. I've been asked in light of the opposition, the strong opposition from the Barcroft Neighborhood to this proposal, do you think it is a good idea to locate Demeter there? Let me just say this, as I said, the opposition was just as strong when we located it in 1988 in New Arlington Douglas Park. That neighborhood opened their hearts and their minds to us and I have faith that Barcroft will too, if you choose to place it there. I have faith in the neighborhood, I understand where their opposition is coming from, I understand the fears. I have no fear that we will be able to work with them.

I point out to you that opposition is not the criteria that you are basing your decision on today. If that were the criteria, you would never place any facility. You're going to have opposition everywhere. If we could, Vanguard would stay where it is. We love the neighborhood. We cannot use the facilities, they are too small, they are inadequate. We looked into building on the current site, we can't do it. We looked into acquiring the neighboring properties, we can't do it. We need another location.

An earlier speaker here today said that it looks that Vanguard found the first shoe that fit and put it on. We have been to every shoe store in town over the past three years. We have tried on every pair of shoes that anybody showed us. This is the first one that fits. And last year, the Program Director and Debbie Volz sat down and drew plans for what they would want a facility to look like. It looks exactly like that square triangle, square rectangle, whatever it is, that big thing there. That is the way it is designed. It is designed to have more than one family in a room because that is the therapeutic dynamic. It's important you have more than one family in a room. You have to have families living and interacting together.

Let me just say in closing, we have a seven year history at our current spot, everytime there was a use review, there was no objections from the neighborhood. The neighbors have testified here today. Three adjoining landowners testified that they approve of the facility as it is run, and if you listened, they said it was virtually invisible and that's what we try to do. We try to disappear. We will disappear where we are now. Those of those who have taken the tour of the facility, you know there's great space behind the house. Some of those houses are 200 feet away. In the front you've got a house with no windows facing it, it's just a bare wall and a garage which buffers. At the current location there's seven houses within 120 feet, this is even more remote in this location. We say this is an adequate fit and we ask you to approve it, approve the Manager's recommendation. Thank you."

CONCERN EXPRESSED ABOUT BUCKINGHAM NAME CHANGE

At the County Board Meeting of October 5, 1996, Public Comment, Arlington Historian Carrie Johnson expressed concern over the renaming of historic Buckingham. Her testimony follows.

"Good Morning I'm Carrie Johnson, I'm here with my hat as an historian on this morning to ask you once again to come to the defense of Buckingham. I know that you've done this a number of times. The historic district got established, the renovation package was finally worked out and is very much underway. There's going to be a ribbon cutting for the new community center next week, but apparently the marketers have now decided that in order to rent the new Buckingham they have to rename it. The invitation that arrived, it's not Buckingham anymore, it's something called Historic Ballston Park. It's not in Ballston, its not a park, it's a village and there's nothing historic about this name. I know that changing names for the new generation of buildings is a common real estate practice but this is not just any building.

This is an Arlington Historic District, it was established partly because of its social significance as good housing for people of fairly modest means for which it's exactly what it's being returned to. The name has been its name in the name of an Arlington neighborhood for sixty years. What's more, this project is partly being done with tax credits for historic preservation.

Under all these circumstances, I think this is an insult to the community, to the process, to the success that we are achieving here, and particularly to the people who have put up with this by living there all these years and who are now being told that their image isn't good enough so we have to change the name and deny the heritage in order to market it now. Now, I know there's nothing legally that you can require them to do to keep the name. I think even the people at the National Registrar of Historic Places, while they recommend strongly keeping historic names, cannot require an owner not to call it something else. But I would urge you to do everything that you can to keep Buckingham as Buckingham, because we really ought to be proud of it. Thank you."



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