Plan Lee Highway

On June 23, 2021 Mike Cantwell wrote to the Arlington County board to share the Civic Associations position on the Plan Lee Highway Scenarios:

“Arlington County Board and Plan Lee Highway Staff,

The Yorktown community includes many citizens who are deeply opposed to the increased density in each of the proposed Plan Lee Highway scenarios. Our community also includes many residents who welcome aspects of the plan. There are, however, a few things we can all agree on:

First, we would like a commitment from the county board that they will plan and budget for the purchase of land for green space and public use in our area. It is not sufficient to hope that private developers will subsidize the cost of green space in the future. According to a recent review by the Arlington County Civic Federation, the county has underinvested in public land park acquisition for over a decade. As a result, there is less park land acreage per 1,000 residents today than at any other time in the last 50 years. Increasing the density along Lee Highway without adding additional open space will further reduce the amount of park land per capita. In our area, we are lucky to have public spaces that are heavily used by existing residents. In order to maintain quality of life with increased density, more public spaces are necessary. Monies for those spaces should be considered and budgeted alongside the revised general land use plan for Lee Highway.

Second, we would like a commitment from the county board that they will plan and budget for schools and infrastructure commensurate with the increased density and population growth along Lee Highway. Planning for private development without planning for public infrastructure will necessarily lead to underinvestment and a more-expensive, less-thought-out game of catch-up in the future.

Third, we would like a commitment from the county board that they will not use eminent domain, now or at any point in the future, to achieve any portion of the Plan Lee Highway use scenarios. Our neighbors want assurance that they will retain the ability to decide what to do with their own property, even as the area may be changing.

Thank you for your consideration. We welcome further dialog with our civic association about this planning process.

Sincerely,

Mike Cantwell
President – Yorktown Civic Association

Amelia Frenkel
Vice President – Yorktown Civic Association”

On July 30, 2021 the County Board responded:

“Dear Mr. Cantwell,

Thank you for your message and for sharing your thoughts concerning the Plan Lee Highway study. I’m responding on behalf of my colleagues, and please know that your email and perspectives have been shared with and read by each member of the Board.

First, I’d like to underscore that the study is in its early stages. County staff, and PLH civic leaders, have sought to shape a process where community members can weigh in with your priorities and the positives and negatives of the various scenarios.

We appreciate that you’ve done so – and in your comments, as well as in those of your neighbors, it’s clear how much you value both the environment and quality of life in your community currently. Thank you for taking the time to share stories, as well as perspectives and concerns, with us on the County Board.

As you may know, Plan Lee Highway is designed to build upon the community’s vision and guiding principles as we work to create a walkable, “Main Street” type corridor, looking at everything from multi-modal transportation options to responsible development and public facilities. Currently, County government and civic partners from Lyon Village and other neighborhoods along the corridor are developing ideas and offering different possibilities to the community so we can better understand the impacts and benefits of different types of development along the corridor. These plans are also designed to explore and evaluate how government and the private sector can work together to help achieve the community’s aspirations for this “Main Street.” The goal of this phase is to open the door to meaningful discussions with the community so that staff can make informed decisions as the proposal evolves. With community feedback on preliminary land use concepts, the Planning Team will be refining the ideas and developing a Preferred Concept Plan which will be shared with the community in Fall 2021. Again, no conclusions or decisions have been made at this time.

The land use scenarios currently under discussion were developed with a number of things in mind, including the community feedback received during last year’s workshops. You may find it of interest to visit the Plan Lee Highway project page to review the latest presentation materials and reports. On this page, there is also a link to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which provides answers to many key questions and concerns about the effort.

The most important thing to emphasize from these FAQs: The County has no plans to rezone existing single-family residential properties and will not be seizing private property through eminent domain as a part of this project. Regardless of what scenarios or zoning tools are ultimately recommended in the Plan Lee Highway study, each property owner will make their own decisions about whether to maintain their property unchanged, or whether to pursue changes and how.

We thank you again for reaching out with your concerns, as well as your meaningful reflections about what makes your Arlington neighborhood special, and we encourage you to stay engaged in the process.

Sincerely,

Katie Cristol
Vice Chair, Arlington County Board”

Meeting Notes

Minutes of the July 21, 2021 Yorktown Civic Association General Membership Meeting

  • On July 21, 2021, the Yorktown Civic Association held a virtual general meeting.  The following individuals were in attendance, with Brian Young reporting the minutes:
  • Bryan Walsh, Campbell Maloney, Christine Purka, Craig Mastrangelo, David Haring, David Friedman, Ginger Brown, Hillary Gillen, James Churbuck, Kristi Roberts, Maisie Meade, Mehul Vora, Melissa Jackson, Michael Strazzella, Mike Cantwell, Paul Gibson, Paul Holland, Rob Fisher, Sally Linderman, Shelly Pelletier, Terry Costello, Amelia Frenkel, Frank White.

In Memoriam: James and Shauna Waites

  • Craig Mastrangelo offered condolences to the families of Shauna and James Waite of North Greenbrier Street, who were killed in a tragic accident last week.  Please keep the Waites and their family in your thoughts.

Plan Lee Highway

  • Paul Holland and Ginger Brown addressed Plan Lee Highway, a land use development plan for the Lee Highway corridor.  They took questions.   Documents pertaining to Plan Lee Highway are available here: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/plans-studies/land-use/lee-highway/process/.  Residents may contact Plan Lee Highway at planleehighway@arlingtonva.us.  Ms. Brown may be contacted at ginger.brown@leehighwayalliance.com and Mr. Holland may be contacted at paul.alexander.holland@gmail.com.  Mr. Cantwell reported that the Goddard School is renting the former bank location near Lee Highway and George Mason and is hopeful that this space will become a childcare center.  Ms. Brown reported that an eatery had expressed interest in the space that was formerly occupied by Tops Cleaners on Lee Highway but had no further information.

Neighborhood Day

  • The Association discussed holding a neighborhood day in Chestnut Hills on a date to be determined this fall.  Mr. Cantwell put out a call for someone to volunteer to serve as chairperson of the event.  In the past, Neighborhood Day featured food trucks, musical entertainment, and a bounce house.  Please contact Mr. Cantwell at mtcantwell@msn.com if you wish to volunteer.

Crime and Traffic

  • Mr. Cantwell gave an update on crime developments and traffic safety.
Meeting Notes

Minutes of the January 27, 2020 Yorktown Civic Association General Membership Meeting

  • A meeting of the Yorktown Civic Association was held virtually.  Brian Young, Secretary, compiled these minutes.
  • Meeting attendees include: Brian Young; Amelia Frenkel; Anne Bodine; David Coia; David Friedman; David Haring; Jeanne Mershon; Matt Duckery; Michelle Winters; Mike Cantwell; Peter Rousselot; Rene Sollod; Terry Costello; Craig Mastrangelo; Matthew Cleaveland; Mehul Vora; Campbell Maloney; James Churbuck; Karen Hardee; Ginger Brown; Rick Epstein; Margie Bell; Rick Epstein; Susan Kerin; Terry Costello; Dave Schutya.

Special Election

  • Mike Cantwell nominates Brian Young to serve on the Executive Board of the YCA and as the Secretary for the YCA. Craig Mastrangelo seconded the motion.  The motion carries unanimously on a voice vote.

Special Guest – Matthew Duckery, Arlington County Code Enforcement

  • Mr. Duckery, of Arlington County Inspection Services, addressed code enforcement for Arlington County, which enforces Virginia’s Property Maintenance Code.  The County has eight inspectors to survey all land within the County borders and strives to perform inspections in response to complaints in 3-5 business days.  Code inspectors are not permitted to reveal the identity of complainants – that information is confidential.  Inspector Duckery may be reached at mduckery@arlingtonva.us.  Those wishing to lodge complaints may call 703-228-3232 or email codeenforcement@arlingtonva.us.   The phone number for Arlington County Environmental Services, which inspects permeable driveways, is 703-228-3883.

Special Guest – Peter Rousselot, Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future

Lee Highway News

  • Mike Cantwell discussed developments on Lee Highway, particularly including the site on the corer of George Mason and Lee Highway.  Mr. Cantwell reported that the new tenant provides business services such as printing and virtual meeting facilities.

Crime

  • Mr. Cantwell addressed crime in the YCA borders and stressed preventative measures such as security measures and ensuring that residents lock car doors.

Treasurer’s Report

  • A Treasurer’s report was deferred until the next meeting.

Future YCA Meeting

  • The YCA aspires to hold an outdoor meeting in March or April.  Details will be forthcoming.

Chestnut Hills Park on North Harrison Street is about to undergo a major expansion and improvement, thanks to the just-completed demolition of two adjacent homes acquired by the County during the past 15 months. The parkland expansion will soon be complemented by a frontage improvement project that was sponsored by the Yorktown Civic Association and funded through the County’s Neighborhood Conservation program to install new entrances, fencing and pathways.

The park expansion has been made possible through the use of funds from the County’s Park Land Acquisition program. The County acquired the first property in September 2015 for $728,000, and the second in March 2016 for $820,000. The County Board approved an additional $50,000 per property for deconstruction and site restoration. The addresses for the homes where 2827 and 2833 N. Harrison Street, respectively. The first of the homes was owned by long-time Civic Association Treasurer Bob Littell and his family. The combined size of the two lots is about one-half acre, but the removal of the homes opens up access to land behind those properties which was already owned by the County. Due to the recent loss of other open space in the County, the current intention is to simply maintain the additional property as open space parkland. For example, this expansion helps to offset the significant loss of green space on the Williamsburg school site with the construction of the new Discovery Elementary School.

The frontage improvement project was actually funded back in December 2012, but implementation has been delayed twice – which has actually been a good thing! First, those improvements were postponed due to the 2014 playground renovations. Then, those improvements were delayed again when the first of the two homes was acquired in 2015. Those improvements have finally gone out to bid, and assuming that process goes well, a contract will go to the County Board for approval at its February 2017 meeting. The park improvements will include a new solid steel fence recessed 1’ behind the existing sidewalk; four recessed gates to provide stroller passing zones; a new enclosure and location for the portable restroom; pervious circulation pathways; and new benches and trash cans flanking the new walkways. The delay in this project ensures that the planned fencing and entrances will now include the recently acquired adjacent properties. The improvements are expected to take up to four months, and work is expected to begin fairly quickly after contract approval by the Board. It is expected that the Park will stay open during the work, although disruptions in access could be expected.

The County has a dedicated web page for the improvement project at: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/chestnut-hills-frontage/.

Be a Good Neighbor: Snow Removal

 

Snow and Ice Removal – All property owners (private residents and businesses) are required to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent
to their property:

  • Must be removed from the entire width of the sidewalk up to a maximum of 36 inches (to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, etc.)
  • Must be removed within 24 hours after the snow stops falling, when accumulations are less than 6 inches, and within 36 hours when 6 or more inches of snow accumulate.
  • Noncompliance could result in a civil penalty and fine of $50 for sidewalks less than 200 linear feet in length or $100 for more than 200 feet.

If you know of a resident who is unable to clear their sidewalks because they are physically unable to shovel snow, please contact a member of the YCA Executive Committee. If you are just tired of shoveling, try connecting with your neighbors on the Yorktown Civic Association Facebook page or on Nextdoor Yorktown.