Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Board to Take Up A Number of B'ham Items Saturday

Federal stimulus money may be appropriated in two projects.

The county is set to issue $43 million in bonds, with $14.8 million going to purchase property on Village 1 that will become a street and park, between N. Pershing Drive and N. Henderson Road, west of N. George Mason Drive (the four-storey Madison at Ballston Station apartment building is there). The vote comes this Saturday at the county board's monthly meeting.

As part of the 2007 agreement between the county and Paradigm Development Company, the owner of the property, the county would buy road and park space on the Village 1 property.

The road will extend N. 3rd Street from N. Henderson to N. Pershing and would build a park, about the size of a football field, on N. 4th Street just west of N. George Mason. According to county documents, Paradigm will complete the road and park; the money spent includes those improvements.

County funds will be put toward this "Village Green" park on N. 4th Street. George Mason Drive runs vertically to the right of this image. (File image from Paradigm Development Co. Click to enlarge the image.)

According to the county manager’s report, “Under the terms of the purchase agreement, closing on the acquisition is dependent on the developer’s completion of certain site work, including demolition and removal of above and below ground structures and site grading. This work is anticipated to be completed later this fall, with closing and settlement of funds to occur on the acquisition shortly thereafter.”

These bonds are not part of the “general obligations” fund but the “annual appropriations pledge” and therefore will likely carry a “double-a” rating, and therefore higher interest. They might also be issued under the “Build America Bonds” as part of the federal stimulus package, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the report said.

“Estimated annual debt service in [fiscal year] 2010 on the bonds totals $0.9 million. Approximately $0.2 million will be paid for from the Transportation Investment Fund and is attributable to the portion of the Buckingham Village 1 acquisition related to the public street extension. The remaining $0.7 balance will be paid for from the General Fund and is within the County’s adopted FY 2010 budget,” the report states.

Federal stimulus money will also go to Carlyn Springs apartments for energy improvements. The board is set to approve up to $151,120 of “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” money to Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing for the apartments at 4318 N. Carlin Springs Road (on the corner of Carlin Springs and N. Thomas Street). The complex, two buildings, is a mix of market-rate and affordable units.

Union Jack’s Pub in the Ballston Commons Mall is looking to expand its outdoor café from 20 to 54 seats, and the plan they have puts tables and chairs at the boundary of the right-of-way along the Glebe Road sidewalk. County staff, according to the manager’s report, felt it required a site plan amendment to make sure chairs and tables do not encroach on the walkways. The report says that Ashton Height’s Civic Association was notified and no comments were made. The restaurant must maintain a six-foot, barrier-free walkway between any fencing that corrals their tables and chairs, and the “tree pits” that run along N. Glebe Road, according to the report. Citizens may comment on this item at the recessed meeting Tuesday July 14, 6:30p.m. (see the comment, below).--ST

Public comment starts 8:30a.m. July 11 at the county board meeting room, third floor of the county office building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.--ST

Related stories…
  • Buckingham Villages Update (June 2009).

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  • Comments:
    People need to come to the County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. to speak in opposition the Union Jack site plan amendment if they wish to have a walkable sidewalk on N. Glebe Road next to Ballston Common. The item is presently on the consent agenda (Item 8), but will most likely be heard by the County Board on Tuesday because of public opposition.

    Union Jack is on N. Glebe Road, within Ballston Common. The restaurant's tables and lamposts were on the sidewalk this morning, severely restricting the walkway.

    About 2 months ago, Union Jack's received administrative approval of a site plan amendmemt to permit them to place their tables and other assorted furniture up to the boundary of their property line. This would have the effect of decreasing pedestrian space. This is inconsistent with the County's efforts to make Arlington a "pedestrian friendly community". However, County staff did not care about this.

    Soon afterwards, Union Jack's placed table and private lampposts within three to four feet of the tree pits. This was a clear violation of the site plan amendment. A complaint to the County's Code Enforcement office resulted in an inspector visiting the site. However, Union Jack's did nothing except to stack the tables on the side of a wall. This is also against the County Code. The restuarant left the lampposts were they were.

    The sidewalk can now accommodate only two people walking side by side. It can't accomodate both a cyclist and a pedestrian without risk of injury.

    Union Jack's is now asking the County Board to approve an addition to the administratively-approved site plan by permitting the restaurant to occupy a portion of the sidewalk that is part of the County right-of-way. A six foot pedestrian walkway is much too narrow for a area in central Ballston, such as along Glebe Road. Neverless, the County Manager has recommended that the County Board approve the site plan. The Manager clearly has no interest in making Ballston a pedestrian-friendly community. This change would help a business that wants to increase its profitability at the expense of pedestrians.

    Even worse, there can be no expectation that Union Jack will limit its furniture to the area that the site plan amendment may approve. The restaurant disregraded the limitations in the administrately approved site plan without consequences. There is every reason to expect that the restaurant will similarly disregard the increased limits to its intrusions on the sidewalk that the County Board may approve.

    Neither the County staff nor Union Jack's bothered to inform the Buckingham Community Civic Association and the Bluemont Civic Association about either of the two site plan amendments. Therefore, neither of these two affected civic associations were given the opportunity to express their concerns about both the amendment and the restaurant's failure to move its lampposts out of the County right-of-way after a visit by a County Code Enforcement inspector.

    Anyone who wishes to have a walkable sidewalk on Glebe Road next to Ballston Common needs to speak at the County Board meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 on Item No. 8, and/or send e-mail messages to the County Board.

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