Civic Association Newsletter

March/April 1995 - Volume 18, No. 6

County Staff To Seek Comments On Revising Ballston Master Plan

Residents of the Alta Vista may recall that, during October 1993, the Arlington County Board denied a site plan amendment application that would have led to the block to their west, referred to as the Stuart Park site, becoming an all commercial 600,000 square foot office building. More recently, residents of the Jefferson expressed serious reservations to the County Board about the height increases that were sought for the NRECA building which is immediately to the south of them. The County Board approved the NRECA site plan amendment application.

A bit of planning history may be useful at this point. The core of the Ballston area of our neighborhood is zoned C-O-A, which stands for commercial-office-apartment. That zoning covers the area that is bounded by North Fairfax Drive and Wilson Boulevard on the north and south, respectively, and Glebe Road and North Quincy Street on the west and east, respectively. An Arlington County planning document called the Ballston Sector Plan describes the C-O-A district as follows: "Designed for a coordinated mixed-use development of office, apartment and hotel use. Height and density vary according to use and site area. By site plan approval density ranges from 1.0 FAR [floor area ratio] to 6.0 FAR; only half of the total density may be developed as office, hotel and commercial with the remainder developed as residential. The residential development height limit is 151 to 216 feet. The office and hotel development height limit is 100 to 170 feet."

In order for a commercial or office project to secure the highest density level available under the C-O-A designation, the C-O-A zoning ordinance requires that 50% of the project be residential. Projects that are solely residential may qualify for the highest C-O-A density level, available under the zoning ordinance, without anoffice or commercial component. The mixed-use requirement for a site insures that there will be activity in the area during the business day as well as during the evening. This mixed-use has enlivened what could have become a dense, foreboding night-time urban ghost-town like Rosslyn.

In February 1994 County staff held a work session with the County Board on staff recommended changes to the C-O-A mixed- use district. During that work session, staff indicated that their urban design review for purposes of preparing a Concept Plan Amendment to the Ballston Sector Plan had, at that time, been going on for two years. The most recent efforts to secure a change in the C-O-A mixed-use district was the staff's encouragement of, and assistance to, the applicant who submitted the site plan for the 600,000 square foot all office building for the SEC that would have been located to the west of the Jefferson at Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive.

In response to applications by developers, the County staff will continue to seek ways to have larger all commercial buildings approved for the C-O-A mixed-use district. The interpretation of the zoning ordinance that the staff is attempting to convince the County Board to adopt is that the 50% mixed-use requirement may be applied to the entire C-O-A district rather than on a site-by-site basis.

Our Civic Association has been vigorously opposed to any change in the C-O-A designations or requirements. It has been the BVSCA's position that the mixed-use requirement must be met on a site-by-site basis and that the mixed-use blocks have worked well. Further, the BVSCA does not support any changes to the General Land Use Plan categories that underlie the C-O-A mixed-use district. We have pointed out in public testimony, and in correspondence, that many residents have purchased their condominium units in buildings in the C-O-A district based on the expectation that the blocks would be mixed-use, and that any changes now would adversely affect these residents. Changing to larger all commercial office projects would also alter anticipated traffic timing and patterns and could adversely affect the townhouse portion of our neighborhood which is north of 11th Street North.

Within the coordinated mixed-use development district, there are however parcels of land that are zoned C-O-A but which are essentially leftover parcels of a block, or that are not large enough in site size to be developed at C-O-A density levels. For example, the old Dodge site at the corner of North Quincy Street and North Fairfax Drive, and the site of the brick apartment building on 9th Street North at N. Randolph Street, next to the Navy office building. What is to become of those sites? Do their designations need to be changed? What are the chances that they will ever be re-developed? Should they be redeveloped?

Should County staff pursue a comprehensive re-examination of the C-O-A coordinated mixed use development district? How should the Civic Association be involved in the process? So far, we have been placed in a position of reacting to site plans and amendments to previously approved site plans.

Mr. Jim Snyder, Supervisor of Current Planning, in the County's Planning Division, will attend our March 29th Membership Meeting. He will make a brief presentation beginning at 8:15 p.m. on the status of staff activities relative to the mixed-use district and hear our comments and answer questions.

Please plan to attend this important meeting. If a member is unable to attend, but you would like comments conveyed to the County staff, you may write a letter or memo addressed to the Civic Association's Secretary and fax it to (703) 525-4276. Alternatively you may send an Internet electronic mail message to, or leave a voice message in message box 1 of the Member Information Line at (703) 528-1887. (See details on page 3 on how to call the Member Information Line, a.k.a. MILTN.) Members will need to identify themselves by name and street address for your comments or correspondence to be passed along.

The President's Message

Crime is a frightening phenomenon right in our neighborhood. Just in the last few months, the Virginia Square area has witnessed five separate gun incidents, two carjackings and one shooting right in front on my building! (For details, see our crime report on the last page of this Newsletter). Our Association has been warning of dangers of crime for a long time and we have often disputed the County's numbers maintaining that crime is lessening in the area.

We continue to witness more serious crime and now we are seeing another warning of ours begin to ring true--that the proliferation of used car lots in our area is beginning to contribute to the potential for crime. Two of the most recent gun crimes and carjackings occurred during used car test drives in our neighborhood. We believe that the influx of thousands of people to our neighborhood who come to test drive their cars through our neighborhoods, the very nature of cash transactions and poorly supervised used car lots pose a menace to our police and our citizens.

Regular law enforcement is not enough. We need to continue to send other signals to criminals that we will not tolerate crime in our community. So here is another idea -- with a growing budget deficit and impending higher taxes, it becomes necessary for all of us in Arlington County to look for other methods of cost savings and new sources of revenue. It is also imperative to demonstrate that all residents of our community are making a contribution toward society and not just in a position to drain the government's resources.

Yet, there is a group of citizens who live in a high-rise dwelling situated in one of the most popular and centrally located areas in Arlington, who don't pay a dime in taxes but are draining the taxpayers every day. They are the county jail residents and they are costing us plenty.

According to a County official, the final cost for the new jail at the Courthouse was $46,732,000. Based on amortizing these costs over 20 years (based on the life of the old County jail), plus the costs of 218 full-time-equivalents assigned to the facility, and the costs for three meals a day, laundry facilities, etc., we estimate that each inmate costs a minimum of $30,000 per year to incarcerate.

Attorney General Reno (in the opening day dedication ceremony) proudly proclaimed this to be a "model" prison because it had so many facilities that inmates "would have all of the responsibilities and normalcy of living, much akin to those of us who enjoy the freedoms of the outside world.

The truth is that this prison represents nothing more than a model of bankruptcy in the sense that it is another expensive program draining the taxpayers, and it is equally bankrupt in its attempt to deliver normalcy. Already after only months of operation, stories are coming out of a prison guard force that feels abused by the prisoners and of an overcrowded facility. No wonder when $46 million only buys 509 beds!

Well there is another alternative--charge the prisoners for their state of luxury! Five states and a number of municipalities across the country now charge their prison inmates each day for their incarceration and upkeep. In places like Leesport, Pennsylvania and Mocomb County, Michigan, officials collect anywhere from $30 to $60 a day from prisoners and gather hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Prisoners can pay out of existing funds or work debts and interest off after they leave our facility. I believe that we should implement the idea at once and advertise loudly to the outside world just how costly crime in our community will become for the contemplating criminal. Then we can use all of the revenue to either reduce our budget deficit or set up a program to assist the victims of all the criminal acts.

When I, as President, testified a the March 1995 Budget Hearings before the Arlington County Board, and suggested charging prisoners as a means to help recover some of these costs for Arlington taxpayers, Chairman Eisenberg responded, "You can't gets from them that ain't got." Well, I could say the same for Arlington County taxpayers; and I would remind our Chairman, that convicts would be welcome to partially pay off their debt to society after they leave the facility.

The next time that County, State and Federal officials want to spend millions of dollars on a facility, perhaps it should be for the sake of the victims instead of criminals.

County Board Increases Real Estate Tax Rate To $0.94 PER $100.00

At the Arlington County Board meeting of March 18, 1995, each of the Board members with the exception of Board member Ben Winslow, voted to increase the real estate tax rates by $0.043 from $0.897 to $0.94, a percentage increase of 4.81%. Since the County Board voted unanimously in 1991 to adopt the local meals tax of $.04 per $1.00 for food and beverages purchased from a local restaurant, or food service preparer, the Board has voted four consecutive calendar years (CYs) to increase the County's local real estate tax rate. In effect, the County's real estate property tax rates have increased by 22.88% since calendar year 1991 (from $0.765 in CY 1991 to $0.94 in CY 1995 per $100 of assessed value).

It should be noted that three real estate tax rate motions were discussed before Board member Jim Hunter's motion to increase the tax rate by $0.43 per $100 of assessed value was approved by a vote of 4 - 1. The other motions included (1) Board member Mary Margaret Whipple's unsuccessful motion for a $0.05 increase to $0.947 to reduce the unfunded balance of the base budget for fiscal 1996 from $8.5 million to $6.8 million and to help fund "the Department of Human Services that finds more problems each year to address," and (2) Board member Ben Winslow's unsuccessful motion for a $0.023 increase to cover the costs of the current year's budget adjusted for inflation only).

According to Anton S. Gardner, County Manager, in his memorandum of recommendation, dated March 8, 1995, to adopt the calendar year 1995 real estate tax rate, the fiscal 1996 Proposed Budget included $18.4 million in "revenues needed" to fund the proposed base budget. In addition, the School Board has recommended a fiscal 1996 School Budget which would add $1.7 million to the "revenues needed" amount, increasing the initial $18.4 million to $20.1 million. The Board's adopted real estate tax rate of $0.94 per $100 of assessed value is projected to close the revenue budget gap by $11.6 million, leaving a residual gap of $8.5 million. In order to close this gap and balance the County's base budget for fiscal 1996, the Board will need to either increase personal property tax rates, identify other revenue sources, cut program spending, or use a combination of additional tax increases and cuts in program spending. The Board is scheduled to adopt the County's fiscal 1996 budget at the Board meeting of April 22, 1995.

The Executive Committee has reported in prior Newsletters the results of the written survey responses to eight issue areas of potential concern to the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhoods, including general concerns about taxes. During the past two years, our survey results have consistently showed that the majority of BVSCA members do not agree with the County's position on taxes and budget priorities. For example, in the 1994 Neighborhood Survey which covered a three week period ending on October 15, 1994, 62% of the total 70 responses indicated that local real estate taxes was a concern (36%) or a critical problem (26%); 64% indicated that the local meals tax was a concern (29%) or critical problem (35%); and 65% indicated that the local personal property tax was a concern (34%) or critical problem (31%).

Many respondents suggested a change in budget priorities. For example, 68% of the total 70 responses indicated support for spending more on Public Safety and 52% supported increased spending on public parking. These were the only areas that the 70 respondents indicated support for increased spending in the County's budget.

In contrast, the majority of the respondents indicated opposition to increased spending on the following areas: County government staffing size (73%) transition homes (67%), County government management (64%), subsidized housing (64%), County government employee salaries (61%), Department of Human Services (58%), and homeless shelters (52%).

It should be noted that 40% of the respondents indicated support for increased spending on County schools, 32% indicated opposition to increased spending, and 27% indicated that the County should spend about the same. Also, it should be noted that 36% of the respondents indicated opposition to increased spending on County parks, 33% indicated that the County should spend about the same, and 31% indicated support for increased spending.

To provide additional insight into the County's spending priorities, Secretary Ragland conducted a trend analysis of Arlington County's "General Governmental Expenditures by Function," as reported on page 146 of the most recent issue of the Department of Management and Finance's "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1994." The analysis showed that the County's base level of expenditures increased 91.45%, nearly doubling from $220.13 million in fiscal 1985 to $421.44 million in fiscal 1994 -- even though the population only grew 14.71% (from 157,000 to 180,100 = 23,100). To put this in further perspective, the rate of increase in Arlington County spending exceeded the rate of increase in County per capita income by 34.47% and inflation by 53.13%.

Overall, the analysis shows that the level of spending for five functions increased at varying rates greater than the 91.45% base level increase and that the level of spending for six functions increased at varying rates slower than the base level rate increase. For example, the level of spending for Welfare increased by 307.78% from fiscal 1985 to 1994, or an increase of $32.11 million from $10.43 million in fiscal 1985 to $42.54 million in fiscal 1994. From another perspective, the rate of increase in Welfare spending was 236.54% greater than the 91.45% rate of increase for general growth.

General Government increased by 146.58% between fiscal 1995 and 1994, or an increase of $27.91 million from $19.04 million in fiscal 1985 to $46.95 million in fiscal 1994. The rate of increase in General Government spending was 60.27% greater than the rate of increase for general growth.

Two functional areas with spending levels that increased at a rate slower than the base level rate included Public Safety and Public Works. Public Safety increased by 72.52%, or $21.43 million from $29.55 million in fiscal 1985 to $50.98 million in fiscal 1994. The rate of increase in Public Safety spending was 20.70% slower than the 91.45% rate of increase for general growth.

Public Works increased by 40.18%, or an increase of $6.7 million from $16.70 million in fiscal 1985 to $23.40 million in fiscal 1994. The rate of increase in Public Works spending was 56.07% slower than the rate of increase for general growth.

Additionally, it should be noted that the function with the greatest amount of spending, Education, increased by 97.29% between fiscal 1985 and 1994, or an increase of $72.24 million from $74.25 million in fiscal 1985 to $146.49 million in fiscal 1994. However, Education suffered in comparison to the higher rates of spending increases for Welfare (236.54%) and General Governmental Spending (60.27%) compared to the rate of increase in general growth.

Education's rate of spending increase over the past 10 years was only 6.38% faster than the rate of increase for general growth, which was less than the 8.42% rate increase in school population (from 14,805 to 16,051) during the same fiscal years.

Based on the County Board's recent vote to adopt a higher rate increase for real estate taxes for the fourth calendar year in a row, and the BVSCA's 1994 survey results, taxes and County expenditures have emerged as issues that are likely to continue to grow as among the greatest concern to our members. We have researched these issues in response to our members request for additional information.

If you have any questions about these issues, we invite you to bring them to the next Membership meeting on Wednesday, March 29, 1995, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference room. The Executive Committee has invited a representative from the County's Department of Management and Finance to make a presentation beginning at 7:45 p.m. on the County's fiscal 1996 budget.

Arlington County Real Estate Assessments, Tax Payments, And Assessment Appeals

As discussed above, on March 18, 1995, the Arlington County Board members voted 4 - 1 to adopt an increase in the real estate tax rate by $0.043 from $0.897 to $0.94. What does a tax rate of $0.94 mean to the average Arlington home owner? In discussing the adopted motion to increase the County's real estate tax rate to $0.94 per $100 of assessed value, Board member Hunter stated that this rate would increase the County's revenue by $11.6 million and increase the average home tax payment by $99.00 per year, or $65.59 per year after Federal and State taxes for a taxpayer in the 28% tax bracket. Board member Hunter indicated that this increase was the equivalent of $1.26 in increased real estate taxes each week for the average home.

The County Manager's memorandum of recommendation on the CY 1995 real estate tax to the County Board dated March 8, 1995 provides additional perspective about the adopted tax rate, the average assessment of a single-family residential dwelling, and the tax payment. Based on the 1995 assessment data released in January 1995, County Manager Gardner indicates that assessments for the average home have increased by 1.15%, from $184,250 in 1994 to $186,360 for 1995. It should be noted, however, that Attachment II to this memorandum, shows that 10 years ago, in CY 1986, the average home value was $113,173; the tax rate was $0.94, the same as the Board's adopted tax rate on March 18, 1995; and the tax payment was $1,064.

What this means is the tax payment for an average home in Arlington County in CY 1995 in comparison to CY 1986 has increased by 64.64% or $687.78 (tax payments in CY 1995 for an average home is $1,751.78 (tax rate of $0.94 times assessment for the average home ($186,360) equals $1,751.78) minus (tax payments of $1,064 for an average home in CY 1996) equals $687.78).

Members and friends of the Association have recently expressed concern about their assessments increasing dramatically over 10%. For example, Bob Atkins, President of the nearby Stonewall Jackson Civic Association, testified during the Public Comment period at the County Board meeting on Saturday, March 18th, that he had recently received a notice on his door that his house was being reassessed. Mr. Atkins indicated that he received this notice two working days after testifying before the Board on March 4th, and that it was an "interesting coincidence based on the fact that I'd been complaining about zoning officials at a prior meeting." Mr. Atkins stated that he had talked to people in his neighborhood, and that virtually all the homes are being reassessed upward based on what is called "error corrections" and "reaging." This kind of massive increase on the tax base is not reflected in the proposed budget, Mr. Atkins commented. Mr. Atkins indicated that his increase alone will be over 15%, and noted many other people received assessments that are over 17%. Further, Mr. Atkins stated that he "hoped someone would check into what is really happening with these assessments and why it isn't in the proposed budget.

County Board Chairman Al Eisenberg thanked Mr. Atkins for bringing this matter to his attention and responded that the Board has a double arm's length relationship with the assessor's office. "It's part of the checks and balance system, while we take ownership of the rates. We have no authority over the assessments themselves. We fund the assessor's office but we do not have any authority over the actual assessment themselves." Mr. Eisenberg asked that the Assessor's Office prepare a report for the Board and indicated that they would share the information with Mr. Atkins.

One of the primary contributing factors to the County's budget difficulties this year, and each year since 1991, is the continuing decline of commercial assessed values and the corresponding shift in tax burden to the residential property owers. Since 1991, commercial assessed values in Arlington County have had an aggregate decline of over $1 billion. Changes reported in the County's 1995 Real Estate Assessments show an additional 4.09% decline in commercial assessed values. Total assessments are approximately $20.7 billion, including Taxable real estate of $17.8 billion with residential comprising 53% and commercial comprising 47%. Tax-exempt real estate is valued at $2.9 billion.

Arlington County Taxpayers Association (ACTA) Evaluates Commercial Assessments

The Arlington County Taxpayers Association (ACTA) reported in their January 26, 1995 Newsletter, the ACTA Watchdog, that they had looked up assessment information for 41 commercial parcels of land in central Arlington, from the Courthouse to Ballston. The total assessment for the 41 parcels decreased from $14.63 million in 1993 to $10.78 million in 1994, 26.3 percent. Although the average decrease for all 41 properties in the sample was 26.3 percent, the variability among the parcels was much greater, ranging from an increase of 2.6 percent to a decrease of 68.8 percent. For example, two of the 41 properties actually increased in value from 1993 to 1994. Of the other 39 parcels in the sample, 17 decreased less than 26.3 percent while 22 parcels decreased more.

So that taxpayers can better weigh this information, the ACTA Watchdog reported that one should consider the property at 805 North Monroe (RPC 14036002), [which is in our Association's neighborhood]. According to the County's real estate database, the property contains 12,244 square feet, and it is currently used as a gravel lot for pay parking. In addition, the database shows the property was rezoned from C-2 to RC (Residential Commercial) on March 2, 1991. In January 1992, the land at 805 North Monroe was assessed for $785,100. Two appeals in 1992 -- first within the Department of Assessments and then again to the Board of Zoning Appeals for Real Estate Assessments -- reduced the assessed value to $671,700 for 1992. Arlington County then assessed the property for $633,200 in January 1993 and for $273,500 in January 1994, (e.g., $22.34 per square foot for the 1994 assessment). According to County officials, the ACTA review has resulted in the identification of a mistake made on a number of properties related to the above address. Apparently, "a site plan was missed" that affected 24 parcels in the sample, which resulted in a $3 million underassessment. ACTA's review resulted in approximately $56,000 of recovered revenue.

Taxpayers should have at least three concerns regarding real estate assessment process for commercial income-producing property. First, does the process promote fairness and tax equity? Can some property owners gain an inherent tax advantage if they hire attorneys who know the rules, saving their clients thousands of dollars, and earning hefty fees for themselves? Second, does the process provide economic incentives for commercial income-producing property owners to litigate their assessments? Third, is the County's system of internal controls over the assessment process adequate?

In the case in which the assessment for the old Sears properties in Clarendon was reduced by the Circuit Court, [ACTA reported that] Judge William L. Winston provided no documented rationale for reducing the assessed value on January 23, 1991. The final order merely read: "It is therefor, ordered that the original assessments for 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990 are revised to the amounts shown above. "It is therefor, ordered that the (Arlington County) Treasurer, forthwith, by his check, disburse the sum of $176,558.46 payable to "Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick & Lane, counsel for the Petitioners in Law No. 88-1567."

Because of members' growing concerns about real estate assessments and the appeals process, the Executive Committee has invited Mac Page, Assistant Director, Arlington County Real Estate Assessment Office, to give a presentation and answer members' questions beginning at 9:00 p.m. at the March 29th Membership meeting at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel. Mr. Page will discuss the assessment process, the frequency of appraisals, and how appraisals are conducted. Real estate property owners have until April 14th to request the assessment office to review their assessments. Also, you have until May 15 to file an appeal to the Board of Equalization. Mr. Page will discuss the appeal process and the numbers of appeals made annually to the Department of Real Estate Assessments, the Board of Equalization, and the Arlington County Circuit Court.

BVSCA To Go On Information Highway

The Civic Association is currently working on developing a BVSCA home page document for the Internet World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW provides a single consistent user-interface to numerous different Internet information-retrieval protocols (FTP, Telnet, WAIS, gopher, and others) as well as the data formats of those protocols (ASCII, GIF, TIF, ...). In order to accomplish this, the Executive Committee has coordinated with different Slip type service providers and Scott Allard, President, Barcroft School and Civic League, for tips on how to use HTML, the HyperText Markup Language that defines how a WWW document looks. The Barcroft Neighborhood Home Page is Arlington County's first civic association home page to run on the Web, since February 1995. It can be located at ( The Executive Committee encourages our members to visit Barcroft's Home Page for information about this Arlington neighborhood and email your comments to Scott Allard at The following illustrates the Barcroft Home Page without graphics for our members, who have yet to get on the Information superhighway.

Barcroft Neighborhood Home Page
Barcroft Neighborhood In Arlington, Virginia, USA
What We Like About Our Neighborhood
We have a nice, quiet neighborhood originally established in 1903. We have about 800 mostly modest single-family homes, and about 400 apartments along our outer edge. Most of the houses here were built in the 1930-1970 era. We have an active civic association, and a monthly neighborhood newsletter, The Barcroft News, first published in 1903.

The Barcroft School and Civic League sponsors neighborhood events ranging from an annual Fourth of July Parade to a Christmas visit from Santa Claus, meet-the-candidates nights before elections, spaghetti dinners and a coffeehouse to showcase neighborhood talent. These events retain the strong spirit of community existing here for over 90 years.

And Some More Things To Check Out:

  1. Where our neighborhood is located.
  2. Upcoming Barcroft events.
  3. A description of the Barcroft Community House.
  4. A draft preliminary plan to renovate the Barcroft Community House.
  5. A press release on one of our projects, cleaning up a park.
  6. E-mail addresses of Barcroft residents.
  7. About BHSI-Barcroft HTTP Site Information.
If you are a member and would like to contribute some thoughts on what information about our community should go on the BVSCA Home Page, you may e-mail to

Home Depot

On April 1, 1995, the proposed Home Depot project in Clarendon is scheduled to be heard by the Arlington County Board. The County Board is confronting a significant proposal regarding the Sears Site: the request of the property owner to rezone all ten acres to accommodate a superstore and townhouses. To help our members better understand the proposed project, the Executive Committee has obtained a report entitled Analysis of Home Depot's Proposal to Locate in Clarendon, prepared by Arlingtonians for Redeveloping Clarendon Sensibly, February 25, 1995. This report sets forth five major issues.
  1. The current proposal is contrary to the County's long-standing plans for an Urban Village. Clarendon is already becoming an urban village. A superstore is inimical to the urban village and could stifle this burgeoning area.
  2. Allowing a full-sized Home Depot will demonstrate that long range plans are irrelevant in Arlington. The current plans have been developed over twenty years and were recently reaffirmed. They should not be surrendered.
  3. Home Depot is not Sears. Sears focused on small apparel, did not rely on contractors, and did not generate the business traffic that a superstore would.
  4. The Metro will be squandered under the current proposal. The County has invested close to three hundred million dollars on the Metro system. Approval of the current proposal indicates to the citizens of the County that the taxpayers investment is being disregarded. Any plan should not preclude automobiles, rather the area should be carefully planned for mass-transit riders, pedestrians, and other types of transit.
  5. The County must promote appropriate development of the site. This decision should be seen as promoting an atmosphere that encourages an urban atmosphere rather than strip mall superstores. As long as businesses follow the ground rules set by the County plans they are welcome. Many superstores have found they must adapt how they are designed and operate to survive; if Home Depot could come forth with a truly innovative plan they could fit within the County's plans.
According to Arlington County's Home Page on the World Wide Web (, Clarendon is located in the geographic center of Arlington. The area is the historic downtown of the county...Clarendon offers one of the best office locations in Arlington. Downtown Washington is only a five minute drive, the Pentagon is four minutes away and the rest of Northern Virginia is easily accessible...The Clarendon Sector Plan calls for the community to be redeveloped under the "urban village" concept. This includes retention and promotion of small businesses as well as for building design specifications. Buildings are proposed to taper density and height to provide a smooth transition from the core office area to the residential neighborhoods...Clarendon offers many amenities for the office tenant. The area is known throughout the region for its excellent restaurants. The retail base consists of strong locally-owned firms that provide the needed office support services.

Lets support our neighbors in Clarendon by attending the April 1st meeting and apprise the County Board of our views on the proposed project. The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association encourages all members to attend this critically important meeting at the County Board meeting room on the third floor, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.

Arlington Schools' New Directions Program To Begin

Renovation of the building (Hitt Bungalow) in the 900 block of North Pollard Street that will house Arlington County Schools' New Directions program is nearly complete. The facility should be ready to receive students by March 20.

New Directions is an alternative program that has been developed by the County to serve high school students who are too disruptive to be educated in a traditional classroom setting. New Directions will provide a more structured environment with closer supervision and a lower class size. It is thought that about half of the students will attend classes each weekday while the other half will work. The program is envisioned to serve a total of 30 students, but it is planned that only 10 students will be enrolled this year, with an eye towards increasing this number next year.

Ms. Suzanne Jimenez, the director of the program, has contacted us and would like to convene the advisory committee that was recommended when this use was approved. This council is envisioned to serve as a forum for members of the community, New Directions personnel, and relevant community agencies to exchange information and evaluate any impacts of the program on the neighborhood and wider Arlington community. If you would like to serve on this committee, please telephone the Member Information Line (703) 528-1887 and leave a message in Box 1.

If you would like more information about the program or the council, please contact Ms. Jimenez at 703-358-7655.

NCAC Project

The Ballston/Virginia Square neighborhood will be applying for funds from the NCAC (Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee) program to support an upgrade of existing street lights along North Utah Street and North Vermont Street between 11th Street North and Washington Boulevard and along 11th Street North between Utah and Vermont. Higher wattage lamps and new shade panels will be installed. This upgrade was prompted by a request from the First Ballston Commons Homeowners Association. There has been some recent crime incidents in the area occurring in the evening, and it is hoped that the higher light levels will act as a deterrent.

Funds are available for improvement in NCAC areas (which generally are the same as civic association areas) that have plans that have been approved the County. These plans discuss such things as sidewalks, street improvements, streetlights, parks, etc. The Ballston/Virginia Square NCAC plan was adopted in 1984, and many of the improvements noted in it have already been accomplished. However, now that the area has become more built- out, the plan may need to be updated.

NCAC project money comes from bonds approved by the voters of Arlington. These funds are available through the NCAC for community improvement projects such as curb and gutter, sidewalks (including sidewalk repair), street lights (including upgrade of street lights), and park improvements -- any projects noted in the approved NCAC plans. NCAC representatives -- usually elected by the civic associations -- meet on the second Thursday of every month to discuss projects of community concern, review County policy initiatives, and exchange information. Two funding cycles occur each year, with projects being approved in June and December.

If you have any ideas for projects, or want to know more about the NCAC, please contact the Ballston/Virginia Square Representative, Nancy Iacomini, 703-525-7125.

GMU To Lease Parking Spaces At Stafford Place I

On Saturday, March 4, the Arlington County Board approved, in principle, a site plan amendment that would permit George Mason University to lease up to 360 spaces on the P3 and P4 levels of the garage in Stafford Place I (corner of North Stuart Street and Wilson Boulevard). The County Board voted that the County Manager would be able to approve the plan pending the results of various surveys that would determine the extent of available parking in the Stafford Place I building.

George Mason University will be beginning the construction of their first phase of expansion this spring, and, as agreed to last summer, must provide alternate parking for its faculty, staff, students and visitors during this time. The leasing of these spaces is in response to that need. The contract tentatively states that GMU will have access to the spaces between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Currently, Colonial Parking manages the garage at Stafford Place I, whose major tenant is the National Science Foundation. There is some question between the building's management and NSF as to how many spaces are actually available for GMU's use. NSF and other building tenants are not currently using all of the approximately 900 parking spaces available in the building's garage. However, there is concern on the part of NSF that they will need more spaces in the future, and that subletting the spaces to GMU would interfere with their future use of the spaces. The County is currently reviewing parking use surveys conducted by NSF, Colonial Parking, and the County Zoning Office. At the Board meeting, Mrs. Bozman asked the County Manager, who will have authority to approve the parking arrangement, to see that GMU has a plan in place that will ensure, to the extent practicable, that students and faculty will use the spaces in Stafford Place, and not try to park in the Giant lot, or crowd and block neighborhood streets. She also indicated that there should be shuttle bus service between GMU and Stafford Place.

This sharing of parking resources in the Ballston/Virginia Square area underscores why all parking that is required for a site planned building should be provided. When the Metro corridor is entirely built-out, most of our available surface parking lots will disappear and the community will have to rely upon the spaces in buildings' garages to support the mix of office, retail, residential, and educational uses in the Corridor.

As construction begins at GMU, please report any problems you might observe to the Civic Association (parking, use of residential streets by construction vehicles, etc.) in connection with this project. Please call the Member Information line (703) 528-1887, select menu option seven, and record your observations. Without disclosing personal information, we shall coordinate any problems with the GMU Joint Advisory Board and publish it in the next issue of the Newsletter.

BVSCA Legislative Bills -- Update

In the January/February 1995 Newsletter, the Association reported that BVSCA testified in support of an aggressive panhandling ordinance for Arlington County and Initiative and Referendum rights for Virginians at the Arlington County Board meeting of December 10, 1994, and the Arlington County Legislators' public hearing of January 4, 1995. Results of the BVSCA October 1994 Survey showed that 86% of the total 70 responses received indicated support for an aggressive panhandling law/ordinance. For background purposes, this Newsletter reported that Arlington County Delegate Karen Darner (D) was opposed to the aggressive panhandling bill introduced in the 1994 General Assembly, Senate Bill 113, patroned by Senator Edward Holland (D-Arlington) and Senator Robert Calhoun (R-Alexandria, Arlington County, and Fairfax County) which was adopted by the State Senate on January 28, 1994.

The Executive Committee has followed-up on the status of the aggressive panhandling bill with Senator Holland, who recently indicated to Secretary Ragland that this did not "come up" in the 1995 General Assembly. Secretary Ragland inquired whether the Arlington County Board had removed the proposed aggressive panhandling bill from the County's legislative package. Senator Holland responded that he believed that Arlington County has the authority to adopt such an ordinance under its existing police powers and has encouraged the County Board to do so.

As reported in the January/February Newsletter, Initiative is the process by which voters may propose a law, constitutional amendment or ordinance and compel a vote of the electorate on its adoption. Referendum permits a designated percentage of the voters to place a law or ordinance enacted by a legislative body on the ballot for determination by the electorate whether it shouldo effect or be repealed. Currently, citizens of the Commonwealth do not have the authority to place initiatives and referendums on the ballot. Only the Virginia Legislature has this authority. In contrast, 25 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted initiative and referendum rights for its citizens.

The Executive Committee has followed-up on the status of three Initiative and Referendum bills, which were submitted this year at the 1995 General Assembly. Two of the bills, Senate Joint Resolution 364 and House Joint Resolution 646, featured a 10% signature requirement and the other bill, House Joint Resolution 504 patroned by Delegate Vincent Callahan featured a 5% signature requirement.

Although all three bills could not make it out of committee, the entrenched opposition in the Senate's Committee on Privileges and Elections (P & E) are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent the Initiative and Referendum bill from reaching the floor for a vote by the State Senate. Based on the Committee Roll Call and Voting documentation for Senate Joint Resolution 364, dated January 31, 1995, eight members voted to table the resolution ("Pass by Indefinitely") and seven members voted against tabling.

Those members in support of tabling the resolution included: (1) Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr. (D), Chairman, P & E Committee, Mason Neck; (2) Hunter B. Andrews (D), Hampton; (3) Elmo Cross, Mechanicsville; (4) Stanley Walker (D), Norfolk; (5) Clarence A. Holland (D), Virginia Beach; (6) Richard J. Holland (D), Windsor; (7) Benjamin J. Lambert, III (D), Richmond; and (8) Madison E. Marye (D), Shawsville.

Those members in support of not tabling the resolution and bringing it to a vote on the floor of the State Senate included: (1) Charles L. Waddell (D), Sterling; (2) Kevin G. Miller (R), Harrisonburg; (3) Joseph B. Benedetti (R), Richmond; (4) Mark L. Earley (R), Chesapeake; (5) Robert L. Calhoun (R), Alexandria; (6)Charles R. Hawkins (R), Chatham; and (7) Edgar S. Robb (R), Charlottesville.

It is also interesting to note that Lt. Governor Don Beyer (D) and Governor George Allen (R) support Initiative and Referendum rights for Virginians.

County Manager Plan Of Government Legislation

In recent months, there has been considerable discussion in our community over State laws passed in the Virginia General Assembly that only affect counties which have adopted the county manager plan of government, exclusively Arlington County. For instance, in a December 1994 Arlington County Planning Commission Meeting, President Sherretta and Secretary Ragland, while waiting to testify in support of the Arlington Blue Top Cab's proposed project, heard concerns expressed by several nearby neighbors fromCherrydale about the potential adverse effects of one of these new laws. These concerns were about a huge home addition that apparently has been built in their neighborhood in response to a new Virginia law concerning group homes in counties having adopted the county manager plan. The neighbors expressed concern over the size of this recently built home extension, which is located between Stafford Street and Randolph Street, and is very visible as you come down 15th Street.

Briefly, at the time of this hearing, the Arlington Planning Commission was considering a proposed ordinance to amend Section 1 (Definitions) of the Zoning Ordinance as contained in the Appendix to the County Code to make it consistent with a Virginia law that was approved on March 19, 1993 pertaining to Section 15.1-486.3 B. The County's proposed ordinance amendment would add "a group of not more than 8 aged, infirm, or disabled persons residing with one or more resident counselor(s) or other staff (person)s in a residential facility licensed by the Department of Social Services of the Commonwealth of Virginia "as a new category to the definition of "family."

A number of questions were presented to the Planning Commission and County staff at the meeting, who were unable to answer them. How many counties have adopted the county manager plan? Was this legislation only for Arlington? What was the public process? Who inspects these facilities? What are the inspection requirements? What about parking? Are there any opportunities for public participation in the licensing process? Is there some way they could prevent other homes from being "blown-out" or greatly enlarged for this purpose? And basically must Arlington comply?

The Arlington County Planning Commission, along with staff, were unable to answer many of the neighbors' questions. Several commission members appeared uneasy about taking action. For example, a deferral was recommended but the motion failed by an even vote 7-7. Finally the commission voted 8-6 in support of the ordinance.

More recently, the proposed County ordinance was considered by the Board at the Arlington County Board meeting of February 4, 1995, under Agenda Item #17. There was considerable discussion of this item between the County Board members, the County Attorney, County Staff, and the Chairman, Arlington County Planning Commission. Also, several of the neighbors from the December 1994 Planning Commission meeting provided thought- provoking public comments about certain ambiguities in the new law and its potential effects on the community.

Neighbor #1 expressed concern about the size of the building, which he described as approximately 48 ft. X 30 ft. by 50 ft. tall...."Every building inspector that has been out there has made the comment, I don't know how in the world zoning approved this, it sure doesn't fit. But what he is doing is in within the rules for an extension. It's legitimate! Even though it's 3 times as tall as his house. His house is a split foyer, Smith & Francis type--nice little place. This thing that he's put up has just blown the whole neighborhood out of whack completely." In response, Chairman Eisenberg generally responded to the speaker's concern by indicating..."that the size of the building has nothing to do with the family. It has everything to do with zoning ordinances and how large buildings can be, which is a totally separate issue. We're moving much more toward recognizing that different people with differing abilities are and should be treated equally in terms of how large or how small their families happen to be."

Neighbor #2 expressed the following concern. "I would like to address an issue that I do not believe the County has considered in [proposing] this ordinance, and that is the quality of care in such residential situations that might occur under this ordinance. I speak to this with some familiarity as my mother lives in an assisted living place, not a nursing home and it doesn't qualify for medicare and the other kinds of support but indeed is a very good facility here in Arlington. I am very grateful that we have it. They do not have 100% occupancy even now and I am concerned that the good quality places that we have access to may be very well put out of business by such mom and pop operations as the kind [her neighbor] is considering and the kinds that which would be enabled by the ordinance if you were to pass it."

In response, Chairman Eisenberg indicated that "these individuals who form a home are themselves, not conducting a business." Also, County Attorney Drake commented on the portion of this law concerning residential facilities of this kind with one or more resident counselors. "It does say that the persons themselves with one or more resident counselors or staff persons. So I think you need to consider that unit collectively as the residents. I will preface all this, I haven't been posed that question and I'm reacting as we sit here. I think there is reason why that language was included in there that staff people and counselors were to be considered as residents." Also, County Attorney Drake indicated that [this type of group home] is being defined as a residential facility and not a home occupation or a business."

The Arlington County Board deferred the proposed ordinance to a subsequent date in order to revise the licensing authority language to make it consistent with the state code. According to County Attorney Drake, the language that is used in the state code, which is the language that should appear in the ordinance says for which the Department of Social Services is the licensing authority. It doesn't say which is "licensed by," it just says "for which is the licensing authority." I'll take this one step further because there is one more problem that we encountered. "Two different parts of our own advertisements, one said for which it is the licensing authority and the other said licensed by or which is licensed by. And what happened was that the exact language that should be in the ordinance became very hard to find when it was all said and done. And that was the reason why we suggested that it be pulled back and readvertised, not because there were issues about [whether] it should be adopted."

Secretary Ragland has researched the legislative initiatives that amended the Code of Virginia by adding in Title 15.1 a section numbered 15.1-486.3 and to repeal Section 15.1-486.2 of the Code of Virginia. Senate Bill No. 279, offered on January 23, 1990, was patroned by Senators: Gartlan, Miller, E.F., Andrews and Miller, Y.B.; and Delegates: Plum, Van Yahres, Melvin, Glasscock, Cunningham, J.W., Cooper, and Arlington Delegate Mary Marshall. House Bill No. 1640, amended and reenacted section numbered 15.1-486.3 of the Code of Virginia, relating to group homes for eight or fewer persons in areas zoned residential and established sub-sections A and B. This bill was patroned by Arlington Senator Ed Holland, Arlington Delegates Judy Connally, James Almand, and Karen Darner, and Delegates Hull, Keating, Puller, Scott, and Van Landingham. The following is House Bill No. 1640 that was approved March 19, 1993.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 1. That Section 15.1-486.3 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows: Section 15.1-486.3. Group homes of eight or fewer single-family residence. A. For the purposes of locally adopted zoning ordinances, a residential facility in which no more than eight mentally ill, mentally retarded, or developmentally disabled persons reside, with one or more resident counselors or other staff persons, shall be considered for all purposes residential occupancy by a single family. For the purposes of this subsection, mental illness and developmental disability shall not include current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance as defined in Section 54.1-3401. No conditions more restrictive than those imposed on residences occupied by persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption shall be imposed on such facility. For purposes of this subsection, "residential facility" means any group home or other residential facility for which the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services is the licensing authority pursuant to this Code.

B. For the purposes of locally adopted zoning ordinances [in counties having adopted the county manager plan of government], a residential facility in which no more than eight aged, infirm or disabled persons reside, with one or more resident counselors or other staff persons, shall be considered for all purposes residential occupancy by a single family. No conditions more restrictive than those imposed on residences occupied by persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption shall be imposed on such facility. For purposes of this subsection, "residential facility" means any group home or residential facility in which aged, infirm or disabled persons reside with one or more resident counselors or other staff persons and for which the Department of Social Services is the licensing authority pursuant to this Code.

Another interesting bill that was written for the county manager plan of government, Arlington County, and approved by the Virginia General Assembly was House Bill No. 73, offered January 8, 1992. This bill was sponsored by Arlington Senators: Ed Holland and Janet Howell and Arlington Delegates: James Almand, Judy Connally, and Karen Darner. A portion of this bill reads as follows:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 1. That Section 687.13 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows: Section 15.1-687.13. Local housing fund and Voluntary Coordinated Housing Preservation and Development Districts.--The county board may establish by resolution a housing fund, the purpose of which will be to assist for-profit or nonprofit housing developers or organizations to develop or preserve affordable housing for low and moderate income persons. The fund can be used to assist the developer or organization with such items as acquisition of land and buildings, lighting, sanitary and storm sewers, landscaping, walkways, construction of parking facilities, water-sewer hookup fees, and site improvements, including sidewalks, curbs, and gutters but not street improvements. Developers assisted in this manner must provide a minimum of twenty percent of the units for low and moderate income persons as defined by the county for a minimum of ten years.

Neighborhood Crime Report

  1. 3900 block of North Fairfax Drive -- Carjacking. At 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31, a salesman for a local auto sales firm was demonstrating a vehicle to a customer. The customer pulled out a handgun and forced the salesman out of the car. The suspect is described as a male, 21 years old, 6 feet tall, 130 pounds, with brown eyes, and black hair. He was wearing baggy jeans, a light-blue sweat shirt, a green jacket and tan boots. He had a gold stud in his right ear. The stolen car was a two-door, gold-colored 1988 Acura Legend with Virginia dealer tags 38674.
  2. 1100 block of N. Stuart Street -- Robbery. At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2, a gunman took cash from a clerk in a grocery store.
  3. 4600 block of N. Washington Boulevard -- Robbery. At 4:24 p.m. Feb. 5, two men, one armed with a gun, robbed the attendant at a gas station and a male customer of cash.
  4. 3426 Washington Boulevard -- Burglary. A law office was entered between 7:00 p.m. Feb. 16 and 7:45 a.m. Feb. 17. There were no signs of forced entry. Taken was a video cassette recorder.
  5. 3515 N. Washington Boulevard -- Burglary. An apartment was broken into between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Feb. 22. A 66- year-old woman heard someone putting a key in the door and attempting to push it open. She slammed the door and secured it again. A short time later, the same thing happened. This time she screamed and the person did not enter.
  6. 3904 Wilson Boulevard -- Carjacking. At 5:35 p.m. Mar. 1, an Oldsmobile with three occupants was driven into Trong Imports. One of the occupants said he wanted to test drive a Nissan 300ZX, but he did not have a driver's license with him. The salesman said he could start the car, but could not drive it. The man started the car and attempted to back it out of the driveway. The salesman tried to stop him. The man pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the salesman and drove off. The Oldsmobile followed the car, but ran out of gas on I-66 in Rosslyn. Two suspects were located nearby and were arrested by two Arlington police officers. A warrant is on file for the arrest of the third suspect.
  7. 4238 Wilson Boulevard -- Armed Robbery. A Kaybee toy store was robbed at 9:15 p.m. Mar. 1 by a male, about 17 years old and 5 feet, 9 inches tall. Cash was stolen at gunpoint.
  8. 3800 block of North Fairfax Drive -- Malicious Wounding. After a dispute between two carloads of people at around 5:10 a.m. Mar. 1, an 18-year-old woman was shot in the shoulder. A witness saw a male of average height and a thin build leaving the scene on foot. He was wearing a light-colored jacket, a white or gray, plaid or striped shirt, and blue jeans.
  9. 920 N. Pollard Street -- Gunshots. A group of men were traveling north in a gray two-door hatchback toward Fairfax Drive about 2:25 p.m. Mar. 13 when a gun was fired five or six times from the car and in the direction of a group of pedestrians.

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