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.

Friday, Jan. 31
6:30-8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 1
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Washington-Liberty High School
1301 N. Stafford St.

How do you imagine living, working and doing business on Lee Highway in 2050?

The flyer below has all of the details. And additional information is available at arlingtonva.us/leehighway.

It has been a busy summer! We are continuing to track issues related to school capacity, high water bills, traffic and pedestrian safety, the Lee Highway Alliance, and the Garden City Shopping Center.

I recently attended a meet-and greet session with the new Yorktown High School Principal Bridget Loft. YHS parents expressed their concerns about teen drug use and their perception that the Yorktown High School staff was not doing enough to address it. I met with Ms. Loft privately and expressed the community’s concerns about overcrowding at Yorktown High School, traffic and parking. We discussed how the common areas in Yorktown High School (gym, cafeteria, sports field, etc.) are significantly smaller than similar areas at Washington & Lee and Wakefield.

Throughout the summer months, local homeowners continued to post replies on Nextdoor and Facebook related to unusually high water bills. Several homeowners wrote letters to Sun-Gazette editors, Arlington County Staff, and Board members. The Department of Environmental Services is refusing to conduct a thorough investigation into the unusually high water bills. Homeowners experiencing this should continue to contact DES and County Board Members and call for an independent audit of the water meters and water billing process.

The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA) continues to make steady progress. LHA has a budget, leased office space, and an updated website. Google “Lee Highway Alliance” for more information. We have some improvements at the Garden City Shopping Center (GCSC), but we continue to see issues. The LHA, YCA Executive Committee, and the County Staff are working together to encourage property owners and tenants to form a Merchants Association. Ideally, the merchants will work together to improve trash/garbage removal, paving, sidewalks, landscaping, parking, and snow removal.

The guest speaker for our next YCA general membership meeting will be Captain David Giroux. Captain Giroux was recently selected to be First District Police Captain. He will address teen drug use, traffic safety, and violence in our community.

We need your help! We can match your passions, skills, and time constraints to the right “job.” Email me with “I want to help the YCA” in the subject line. Please get involved with the political process. You can’t move the ball forward if you are sitting on the sidelines. Stay engaged Arlington!

By Mike Cantwell
President, Yorktown Civic Association
mtcantwell@msn.com