Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Planning Commission; Flying Squirrels

Planning Commission Hears from County Staff on Bham Villages

The County’s Planning Commission heard county staff presentations on the progress of the Buckingham Villages redevelopment on Tuesday night.

There was very little discussion of the matter as it was intended to be an informational item, not an action item, on the agenda, said Freida Wray from the county’s planning division of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

Staffers presented information on Buckingham Villages scenarios 2 and 8, including site plan designs, density changes, and affordable housing (see the Dec. 10 Herald Trib for a discussion of the scenarios).

Paradigm Development Corp. is in the process of redeveloping the three “villages” located between N. Pershing Drive at the south and N. Henderson Road at the north, and N. Thomas Street on the east and the Culpepper Gardens Apartment complex on the west. They have already begun the process of redeveloping Village 2 on the east side of N. George Mason Drive at N. Henderson Road. Apartments once at that location have been razed to make way for upscale townhouses.

The plan for Village 1, located west of N. George Mason Drive is to remove the current garden-style apartments and replace them with a mix of townhouses and multi-story apartment buildings. Apartments in Village 3 will be renovated inside, and some of the buildings will receive additions. The goal is to maintain about 300 affordable units within Villages 1 and 3.

The Planning Commission is a citizen’s advisory board authorized by the state to help the county make land use decisions, the planning department’s web site says. The Planning Commission makes recommendations of how to proceed to the county manager who in turn makes a recommendation to the county board.
No action was taken. However, a March deadline for implementing or pulling away from the Memorandum of Understanding signed last August between the county and Paradigm, means some decisions will have to be made soon.

Ode to the Arlington Flying Squirrel
Or: Glaucomys Volans (The Southern Flying Squirrel)

We see you at Long Branch
As the dusk turns to dark.
We watch you land softly upon
Cold winter bark.

O! you diamond of the night sky
You fur-covered kite,
You dance upon the tree trunk
To my daughter’s delight!

My son thinks you’re marvelous
And he watches with glee
As you poke around looking
From the back of the tree.

You skitter and cheep,
Fill up on mixed-nuts,
And peanut butter you lick
From the tree’s furrowed ruts.

Then we watch (is it possible?)
You climb 90 feet higher
Then onto a branch
To become the high-diver

—You tiny little thing
That neither flaps, flits nor flutters,
And weighs no more
Than a half-stick of butter—

You glide tree-to-tree
Your white belly aglow
From the beam of a flashlight
Janet shines from below.

Fifty feet down
And 30 away
We watch you depart,
Then we end our stay.

My daughter jumps from our couch
Wishing she were nocturnal
As she tries the flight
Of the Acrobat Squirrel.

Although I wrote this to the single squirrel, I must put in that our viewing with a handful of other families Saturday night saw at least a half-dozen of the little buggers, probably closer to a dozen. Cute as punch—big, nocturnal eyes. It’s a blast to see them. Most people, smarter than I, no doubt, brought flash cameras and seemed to capture some images, but I think I’d go with a flashlight. The squirrels look quite a bit like any other rodent on the tree. The flying is the cool thing, and only the best night-equipped cameras could catch that. Prepare to strain your neck.

The latest email from the county’s “What’s Up Arlington” writes that the next fly-in is scheduled for this Saturday at the Long Branch Nature Center, call 703-228-6535 for “highly encouraged” reservations, $2. (Dates continue at least through February.)

What’s Up Arlington

The “What’s Up Arlington” email (written and distributed by the Dept. of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources) tells squirrel viewers to head over to Bailey’s Bar for happy hour or dinner at the Ballston Commons Mall after viewing the squirrels. It says the conversation will continue, but it feels more like an advertisement for the bar, since there doesn’t seem to be any sort of program attached to it.

Police Notes for Buckingham

Jan. 12: Attempted Armed Robbery 400 block of N. Thomas St.

Around 6:00 p.m., a man selling phone cards was approached by a black male who brandished what appeared to be two handguns and attempted to take the victim’s bag of phone cards. After a struggle, the suspect fled, dropping one of the guns as he left. The weapon turned out to be a BB gun. The suspect is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 160 pounds, wearing a camouflage jacket and blue jeans.

What, there has to be a program angle to having a few beers at Bailey's after flying squirrel-watching? You got something against beer? :)
I'm all for beer (mmmmmm, beeer), but my point, as your tone allows you understand, is they seem to be advertising for one brewpub above another. It's not "go have beers and talk about it." It was "go have beers at Bailey's" why them? (Btw: At the program I had suggested to my wife that we bring lounge chairs and beers the next time we did this. I'd also like to start a campfire, but they'd probably frown.)
I organize stuff like this a lot for ACE & CRM, and it's just easier to pick a place beforehand. Bailey's is a popular location because it's big & convenient. Definitely not a money-making thing, just easier to pick a place (any place) and go with that than try to get dozens of squirrel-loving strangers to try to agree on one spot.

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