House Joint Resolution No. 315, commending the Arlington County Civic Federation, was co-sponsored by the Arlington County Delegation. The resolution was agreed to by the House by voice vote on February 9, 1996 and by the Senate by voice vote on February 15, 1996, and states:
WHEREAS, the Arlington County Civic Federation, the "Civic Voice of Arlington," was formed in April 1916 when six civic associations joined together to "battle for the splitting of Alexandria County into the City of Alexandria and the County of Arlington"; and
WHEREAS, among the federation members, the Barcroft School and Civic League has retained its original name, and the other five associations have changed from the Jefferson Civic League to Virginia Highlands, from Thrifton Village Improvement League to Parkway, from Arlington Citizens Association to Columbia Pike Civic Association, from Ballston to Lee-Ballston, and from Rosslyn to Ft. Myer Heights; and
WHEREAS, the delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation have fought for many issues, including a municipal water system to better protect the community from fires, an organized street naming system, and zoning for land use; and
WHEREAS, the federation has also become involved in the Commonwealth's first elected school board and in the effort to reduce air and noise pollution on the County's roads and in its airports and neighborhoods; and
WHEREAS, members of the Arlington County Civic Federation were among the first voices heard in support of a public transit system for the metropolitan area when they spoke before the U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce in 1946; and
WHEREAS, further public testimony has been presented to the Congress by members of the federation on such topics as desegregation, National Airport, the Hatch Act, and the building of Interstate 66; and
WHEREAS, Arlington historian Cornelia B. Rose, Jr., said of the Arlington community that it is "increasingly conscious of the desirability of concerned action," and the delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation reflect this commitment to the people they represent; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly commend the Arlington County Civic Federation for its 80 years of service and advocacy on behalf of its diverse and caring citizenry; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the members of the Arlington County Civic Federation in honor of the 80th anniversary of the federation's founding.
This proposal is for a 216 feet tall, 21 story residential building which includes 456,530 square feet of gross floor area (g.f.a.) and 3.255 Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The standard in this District ("C-O-A") is 3.0 FAR. The applicant is requesting modification of use regulations to exempt the following from density calculations: enclosed balconies, health club, racquetball court, locker rooms and tenant storage, (totaling 61,322 square feet of g.f.a.). This would, if approved, lower the density of the building to 2.82 FAR. The applicant proposes to provide a parking ratio of one (1) space per unit (437 spaces for 437 units) plus one (1) space for each 580 square feet of retail g.f.a. (12 spaces for 5,500 square feet of retail). One space per unit is required in this District. This proposed site plan amendment is scheduled to be heard by the County Board at its Board meeting on April 13, 1996.
The Disclosure Statement for SP #256 Stuart Park, dated January 11, 1996, shows the names of the following entities, as having equitable ownership of the real estate to be affected in this proposed amended site plan application: (1) Fidelio Properties, a general partnership; (2) First Federal Savings & Loan of Arlington; (3) The Arlington County Board; and (4) Paradigm Development Company.
Representatives of the site plan applicant will make a presentation at our February 28th membership meeting, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd Floor Conference Room, above the Ballston Metro Station. It is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. If you are interested in learning more about this proposal, or have any questions, please plan to attend.
Background History On Site Plan Amendment SP #256
County Board Meeting of May 20, 1995
At the above Meeting, the County Board approved Site Plan Amendment SP #256 (800 & 900 blocks North Stuart and North Taylor Streets) to extend the site plan term from October 30, 1995 to October 30, 1998, subject to all previous conditions and the following amended conditions number 57 and 71 and new condition number 73:
This site plan approval, as applicable to the office phase and to the residential phase, expires on October 30, 1998, if the approved plan is not under construction. Extension of this approval shall be at the sole discretion of the County Board. The applicant agrees that the discretion shall include a review of this site plan and its conditions for compliance with then current County policies for land use, zoning, and special exception uses. Extension of the site plan is subject to, among other things, inclusion of amended or additional site plan conditions necessary to bring the plan into compliance with then current County policies and standards.
The site is currently being used as construction staging and parking, a public parking lot and a nursery. The applicant agrees to maintain the site in a clean and well-maintained condition including, but not limited to, removal of litter from the site, mowing of grass areas, and maintenance of the fence. The applicant also agrees to install an interim asphalt or similar treatment on the walkways along the North Fairfax Drive and North Taylor Street frontages, in which the plans for the interim treatment shall be approved by the Department of Public Works prior to installation. At the time this site is no longer used as a construction staging and parking area, public parking lot or nursery, and there are no plans to continue these uses prior to beginning construction for this project, the applicant agrees to seed or install sod on the permeable areas of the site and to properly maintain the grass areas.
The developer agrees to provide retail and restaurant parking within the underground parking garage. The parking shall be made available to the customers of the retail and restaurant users in the building outside standard office hours (weekday evenings after 5:00 p.m. and weekends). A sign stating this policy shall be installed at the entrance to the parking garage.
Anton S. Gardner, County Manager
Letter to County Board, Dated May 5, 1995
Applicant: Fidelio Properties, Owner
SUBJECT: SP #256 Site Plan Amendment Request to amend Condition #57 to extend the term of the site plan approval from October 30, 1995 to October 30, 1998; on premises known as the 800 and 900 blocks of North Stuart and North Taylor Streets (Stuart Park).
RECOMMENDATION: Extend the term of the site plan approval to October 30, 1998, subject to all previous conditions, amended Conditions #57 and #71 and new Condition #73.
BACKGROUND: The Stuart Park Site Plan, a mixed-use office, commercial and residential development, was approved in 1987. It has been amended several times, including a major amendment for a final site plan for the residential building approved on October 30, 1989. Essentially, this action amended the term of the approved site plan through October 30, 1992. On December 13, 1989, the County Board approved an amendment to incorporate additional site area and density derived from properties fronting on Wilson Boulevard. This action completed the full block consolidation of the site plan. On June 13, 1992, the County Board extended the term of the approved site for three (3) years to October 30, 1995, at which time Condition #57 was amended to extend the site plan and two (2) new conditions were approved: Condition #71 addresses site maintenance and interim site improvements; and Condition #72 requires submission of a confidential written report to the County Manager every four (4) months detailing 1) the applicant's efforts to find developers of the site, and 2) the applicant's progress in its negotiations for an agreement among the various property owners in the block for development of the residential and Wilson Boulevard-fronting commercial portions of the site plan.
The Stuart Park block is owned by several different entities. Fidelio properties owns the majority of the block including the property located at Wilson Boulevard and North Stuart Street. The property at Wilson Boulevard and North Taylor Street is owned by Crestar Bank. The properties located at 909 North Taylor Street and 4521 Wilson Boulevard are owned by the County. In 1992, the County Board approved conveyance of 909 North Taylor Street to Fidelio Properties. Delivery of the deed, however, is at the discretion of the County Manager after considering the timing of the construction of the public park and the status of the agreement regarding development of the residential and Wilson Boulevard-fronting commercial portions of the site plan. [As of May 5, 1995] the deed [had] not been delivered and no agreement [had] been reached as yet regarding the residential and commercial components of the site plan.
The current approval is for a 14-story (200 feet) office building containing 320,490 square feet of office and commercial Gross Floor Area (G.F.A.); a 24-story (238 feet) residential building containing 349,490 square feet of residential G.F.A., 370 units, and 5,000 square feet of commercial G.F.A.; conceptual approval for a two (2) story stand-alone retail structure containing 40,000 square feet of commercial G.F.A. and located adjacent to the residential building and Wilson Boulevard; and a 1.01 acre park located in the middle of the block. The General Land Use Plan designation for the site is Coordinated Mixed Use Development District which calls for a maximum density of up to 6.0 Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) with office density not more than 3.0 F.A.R. The site plan was approved under the "C-)-A" zoning district, which is compatible with the General Land Use Plan designation and is the zoning tool used to achieve the goals of the Coordinated Mixed Used Development District.
At present, the site has administrative approval to be used as follows: adjacent to Wilson Boulevard, construction worker parking and staging for construction of the adjacent National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) building; mid-block, 50-space public parking lot; and adjacent to Fairfax Drive, operation of the Morning Glory Nursery. The construction worker parking and nursery uses are currently in operation.
County Board Meeting of October 15, 1993
At the above Meeting, the County Board denied the applicant's Site Plan Amendments to permit the office density approved for the Jefferson Square site (SP #269) to be constructed on the Stuart Park site (SP #256), including approximately 616,161 square feet of office gross floor area, and to permit the residential density approved for the Stuart Park site to be constructed on the Jefferson Square site, including approximately 61,661 square feet of residential gross floor area, subject to final site plan approval.
BACKGROUND: The Stuart Park mixed-use office, commercial and residential site plan comprises the block bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Taylor Street, North Fairfax Drive and North Stuart Street. The site plan was first approved in 1987. It was amended several times, with the latest amendment approved for 365,490 square feet of office and commercial GFA (including 5,000 square feet of residential retail GFA) or 2.61 office/commercial FAR, and 349,490 square feet of residential GFA or 2.5 residential FAR (370 units). As part of the office and commercial density, and as a part of an agreement with Continental Federal Bank (now Crestar Bank), a two-story 40,000 square foot structure was approved to be located adjacent to Wilson Boulevard. Also, as a part of the original site plan approval, a 1.01 acre park would be located in the middle of the block. Source: Letter from Anton S. Gardner, County Manager, to County Board, Dated September 23, 1993; Applicant: The Evans Company, Agent
Initial upgrades of the Quincy soccer field that Arlington County and Marymount University are currently discussing will require substantial funding from Marymount University while PRCR will provide the staff to complete the project. In addition, Marymount University has indicated to PRCR a willingness to annually fund costs associated with minor renovation materials used at the Quincy Park soccer field. The anticipated date of project commencement will be late May with an anticipated date of completion by mid-August 1996.
A renovation of this magnitude will temporarily displace some regularly scheduled activities at Quincy Park this summer; these include recreational baseball leagues and the Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus sponsored by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. Staff is currently exploring other alternative sites for all of these activities.
Information regarding this proposal has been or will be shared with all affected school and recreational user groups as well as appropriate citizen commissions before a final decision is made regarding this renovation at Quincy Park soccer field.
The Civic Association has invited Pete Feheley, Program Sports Supervisor, from Arlington's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources to discuss a proposed public-private venture between the County and Marymount University to upgrade the Quincy Park soccer/football playfield. If you have any questions or comments about this proposed public-private venture, we invite you to bring them to our Membership Meeting on Wednesday, February 28, 1996, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference rooms. This item is scheduled for presentation from 9:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Because of concern expressed by some of the BVSCA members who reside at the Tower Villas Condominium, the Association registered its concern with the County Board about Pizza Hut's application and asked that, for safety reasons, a limiting condition be placed on the use permit requiring that the delivery service's vehicles be prohibited from entry or egress from the Pizza Hut driveway entrance on N. 9th Street. Such a condition was, at first, included in the text of the use permit drafted by the County staff but, during Board discussions, it was eliminated. Instead, the final text stated that "The County Board has found that the exception for this use is justified only because the applicant has represented that the use will make deliveries only by vehicles using the commercial frontages and streets to the maximum extent possible." The Board did, however, stipulate that the grant of the permit would be reviewed in four months' time.
The Association understands that Pizza Hut initiated its new food delivery service in November 1995. We have invited the applicant and the applicant's representative, William C. Thomas, Attorney, to return to our Association's next Membership Meeting to discuss the applicant's delivery service and any future plans. If you have any questions or comments about the applicant's food delivery service from Pizza Hut, at 3811 Wilson Boulevard, we invite you to bring them to the next Membership Meeting on Wednesday, February 28, 1996, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference room. This item is scheduled from 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
The applicant proposes to rezone a 62,680 square foot site in Ballston to "R-15-30T" and construct 32 garage townhouses. The proposed zoning is consistent with the "Low-Medium" Residential (16 - 36 units per acre) General Land Use Plan designation for the site. The development would have a density of 22 units per acre and a parking ratio of two (2) spaces per unit, which are consistent with the standards of the "R15-30T" District.
The proposed site plan also includes requests for modification of use regulations for building setbacks and site coverage. These proposed modifications are typical of other urban townhouse developments in the immediate vicinity and are supported by staff. The applicant has agreed to a contribution to the County's Housing Reserve Fund and to comply with the County's relocation guidelines.
On January 20, 1996, the County Board deferred these requests in order to allow the applicant time to respond to concerns expressed by residents of Summerwalk about buffering and the closeness of units to Summerwalk. The Board also directed the applicant to look at the possibility of adding visitor spaces to the project. The applicant has agreed to add an evergreen landscaping screen and a fence along the property line adjacent to Summerwalk. The applicant has also agreed to make architectural changes to the units nearest Summerwalk which will reduce their apparent height and achieve the standard side yard as required by the Zoning Ordinance. The applicant is not proposing to reduce the number of units or to add visitor spaces. Should the County Board wish to direct the applicant to provide visitor spaces, staff would recommend that one of the interior units be removed (reducing the number of units to 31). The applicant had stated that if the County Board directs him to add visitor spaces, he would eliminate one unit.
Staff is recommending that the County Board approve the rezoning to "R15-30T" and the site plan for townhouse development, subject to the conditions of the staff report.
The subject site is located adjacent to the south side of 11th Street North and fronts on both North Stuart and North Stafford Streets. It comprises 62,680 square feet of land area and is zoned "R-5", One Family, Restricted Two Family Dwelling District. It is designated "Low Medium" Residential (16-36 units per acre) on the General Land Use Plan. Currently developed on the site are six (6) single family dwelling units and a garage-type structure. Surrounding the site are multi- family and townhouse developments zoned a combination of "R-C" and "R15-30T". Contiguous to the site on the south are the Summerwalk Condominiums and across North Stuart Street to the west are the Ballston Park Apartments, both zoned "R-C". Across 11th Street to the north is the Olde Ballston Square stacked-unit development and across North Stafford Street to the east is the Randolph Square townhouse development, both zoned "R15-30T".
Located in the center of the site (running from north to south) is an unimproved alley containing approximately 2,280 square feet. The alley was vacated in 1981 and required that an easement be dedicated for public utilities. The applicant would be required to record an easement for the public utilities running through the alley (Condition #41). Portions of the alley located to the north and south of the site were also vacated when adjacent site plans were approved.
The site is currently zoned "R-5", One Family, Restricted Two Family Dwellings District, and contains 62,680 square feet of land (1.44 acres). The "R-5" District permits development of single-family dwellings by-right at a density of eight (8) units per acre. The maximum potential density allowed under the existing zoning district is 11 residential units.
The applicant has requested to rezone the site to "R15-30T", Residential Town House Dwelling District. The proposed "R15-30T" District permits development of all uses allowed in the "R-5" District by-right; by site plan, the maximum allowable density is 30 units per acre for townhouse developments. The maximum potential density allowed under the proposed zoning district is 43 residential units.
This site plan proposal is for a 32 unit townhouse project in the Ballston Metro Station area. The proposed density is 22 units per acre, which is below the maximum permitted density of 30 units per acre. Parking would be provided in the two-car garage units, for a total of 64 parking spaces at a ratio of two (2) spaces per unit. Vehicle access to the development would be provided from driveway entrances off of North Stuart Street and North Stafford Street. The units would contain four (4) stories at a height of approximately 40 feet, and include such architectural details as brick fronts, vinyl siding on the rear facades, wood decks extending five (5) out from the rear of the first floor, and 4-story turrets on the end units. The proposed front setback would be 10 feet along North Stuart Street. The "R-15-30T" District requires a minimum of 25 feet, with the provision that the setback may be reduced to the average setback of existing buildings on the same side of the subject block. The proposed side street setbacks are 7.5 feet (10 feet for units without the turret) along 11th Street North and 11 feet (14 feet for units without the turret) along North Stafford Street. The "R-15-30T" District requires 15 feet. The proposed side yard is six (6) feet (eight  feet for units without the turret) and the requirement is seven (7) feet. The site coverage is 59.3 percent, which slightly exceeds the district requirement of 56 percent.
County Board Meeting of January 20, 1996
At the above Meeting, Hayden Bryan, a member of the Executive Committee of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, represented the Association on behalf of BVSCA President, Ernie Ragland.
Executive Committee Member Bryan's testimony:
"This development is in the BVSCA neighborhood area. You should have a copy of President Ragland's January 5, 1996 letter to the Planning Commission which states our position on this application.
I am going to summarize that letter and update you on our reaction to the recommendations of the Planning Commission.
On November 8, 1995, Mr. Kevin Smith, the applicant made a presentation about his 32 unit townhouse site plan application, with drawings, to our Civic Association's Executive Committee.
Mindful of our Association membership's consideration and concerns regarding the two immediately preceding R15-30T townhouse site plan applications in our neighborhood, and the results of our October/November 1995 Membership Survey, the Executive Committee conveyed the following two points to the applicant.
First, based on the precedent of the membership's request for 2.2 off-street on-site parking spaces per unit and the County Board's action approving that standard in the Ballston Village site plan conditions (SP #318), we expect the developer to provide 2.2 on-site off-street parking spaces per unit. Without the inclusion of the 6 guest spaces, there would be no support by the Association for this project. On-street parking is in critically short supply in our neighborhood and the lack of adequate on-site parking in our residential area has been causing many street security problems, the most recent manifestation of which was the inability of snow ploughs to adequately clear the residential streets in the Ballston end of our neighborhood.
Second, based on the precedent of our membership's request and the County Board's action in approving the Harman Company's site plan conditions (SP #309), we expect that the street trees will not be planted in the utility strip next to the curb, but rather be placed away from the street against the outer perimeter of the unit's courtyard walls. This is a street security measure which we need in our neighborhood to permit better dissipation of the illumination from street lights without their being obstructed by the canopy of street trees.
To restate what the BVSCA is asking for, we ask you to approve a minimum of 6 additional parking spaces above the 2 spaces per unit minimum requirement, and to approve placing the street trees on N. Stuart and N. Stafford at the outer perimeter of the property line as opposed in a utility strip next to the curb.
For the record, we would also like to note that through our Association's participation at the Site Plan Review Sub- committee, we had previously provided input to the applicant suggesting that the site would be too dense with 32 units and that he consider reducing the number to 30 or 31 units while still retaining 2.2. spaces per unit of parking. Further, our members have recently commented that the layout of the units, and their driveway entry and exit points particularly on N. Stuart Street, will cause some unusual traffic conflicts with the garage access to Dittmar's residential project to the west.
We support the Planning Commission's recommended amendment to Condition 33 of the staff report which would require a total of 70 on-site spaces with at least 6 spaces not being in garages and available for guests. As Commissioner Saxe noted, the applicant had stated to the Commission that if the approval of this project required that he reduce the number of units to provide additional on-site parking, because of the structure of his contract, he would not be economically out-of- pocket on his purchase price which, from his statements, appears to be based on the number of units you approve, rather than on the potential number of units which could be placed on the site.
We also support the Planning Commission's recommended amendment to staff Condition 13 to require that the street trees on the North Stuart and North Stafford Street frontages be moved away from the curb and be placed at the outer perimeter of the property line.
We have listened to the comments of the Summerwalk II condominium. If the Board decides to defer this application, we would invite the applicant and the Summerwalk II residents to our regular February membership meeting so that all concerned may listen to a presentation by the applicant. To be clear, BVSCA is not requesting a deferral, nor do we oppose a deferral. However, if the Board determines that all parties would be best served by such a deferral, we would facilitate a full presentation by placing the matter on our February membership meeting agenda."
According to the County Manager, the Fiscal Year (FY) 1997 Proposed Budget identifies $9.8 million as the amount of "revenues needed" to balance the proposed base budget. Additionally, there are other School and County funding issues to be considered, as well as potentially adverse fiscal impacts from state budget recommendations proposed by the Governor and pending in the General Assembly. An increase in the real estate tax rate is one of several options the County Board may wish to consider in closing the revenue gap for FY 1997. Since the advertised rate becomes the maximum rate which may be adopted by the County Board, advertising a rate of $0.984 affords the County Board flexibility when considering revenue options or program and service reductions and increases for FY 1997. The real estate tax rate will be set at the County Board meeting on April 13, 1996, after the budget and tax rate public hearings (scheduled for March 5 and March 6, 1996, at Kenmore Middle School) have been completed. In addition, the annual mid-year analysis of General Fund accounts will be presented to the County Board in early March 1996.
At the County Board meeting of Saturday, February 24, 1996, Agenda Item 8, the County Manager is scheduled to make his formal recommendation to the Board to advertise a proposed real estate tax rate for Calendar Year 1996. According to the County's Agenda Item 8's documentation, the average assessment of a single-family residential dwelling has decreased by 0.52%, from $186,360 in 1995 to $185,400 for 1996. Fifty- seven percent (57%) of detached single-family dwellings had their 1996 assessments remain unchanged, 29% decreased, while 14% of single-family dwellings had their 1996 assessments increase.
At the current $0.94 tax rate, this lower assessment translates into a $9.00 annual decrease in the average single-family real estate tax bill in 1996. At the proposed advertised rate of $0.984, the average single-family real estate tax bill in 1996 would increase by approximately $73 over the 1995 bill of $1,752. The rate of $0.984 would generate $12.2 million above current projected revenues for the FY 1997 proposed budget. There are currently $9.8 million in "revenues needed" to fully fund proposed FY 1997 expenditures. While this amount would cover the school budget as presented in the proposed budget, it would fall approximately $2.3 million short of funding the Superintendent's Proposed School Budget for FY 1997. The FY 1997 Proposed County Budget does not reflect the potential reductions in state funding which could occur as the General Assembly reviews the Governor's proposed budget. After the General Assembly adjourns March 9, 1996, a more precise cost to Arlington will be known and can be addressed. Additionally, there are several program restorations and expansions, and new programs that have been listed in the FY 1997 Proposed Budget Document for consideration for inclusion. These total over $0.8 million, and could be partially by $0.03 in associated revenues.
Recent County Real Estate Tax Increases and Budget Trends
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).
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 three 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. As you may recall from the Association's Newsletter dated October/November 1995, the results of the BVSCA 1995 Neighborhood Survey showed that real estate taxes and personal property taxes appeared much higher as a category of concern than in the past two annual surveys. For example, 79% of the 1995 survey respondents indicated that local taxes-real estate was a concern (53.2%) or critical problem (25.8%). The real estate tax response this year was 17 percentage points higher in terms of concern or critical problem than the 1994 survey response. In the 1994 survey, 62% of the survey respondents indicated that local taxes-real estate was a concern (36%) or critical problem (26%). Also, based on the 1995 survey results, local taxes-personal property was almost 13 percentage points higher as a concern than in the previous year. Survey results showed that 77.8% of the respondents indicated that personal property taxes are a concern (42.9%) or critical problem (34.9%).
The results of the 1995 survey suggest that the County's spending priorities are flawed. For example, 64.1% of the respondents indicated support for increased spending on Public Safety and 43.8% indicated support for increased spending on Public Parking. Several members expressed increased support for the police and fire departments. For example, one member stated "We need the police and fire departments, and should pay them better. Also, we should back them up in their efforts to enforce the law."
In marked contrast, almost the same percentage of respondents (43.7%) recommended that the County cut Welfare spending. Only 6.3% of the respondents indicated support for increased spending on Welfare and only 4.9% indicated support for increased County spending on staff size or salaries. Over 27% of the respondents to the survey recommended that the County cut staff size/salaries. There was also strong sentiment against the County providing additional spending for subsidized rental housing and transition homes. Only 12.5 percent of the respondents indicated support for additional spending on transition homes, and even less, 5% of the respondents, indicated support for additional spending on subsidized rental housing. Over 40% of the respondents recommended a reduction in County spending for each of these areas. To provide additional insight into the County's spending priorities, the Executive Committee conducted a trend analysis of Arlington County's "General Governmental Expenditures by Function," as reported on page 118 of the most recent issue of the Department of Management and Finance's "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1995."
The analysis showed that the County's base level of expenditures increased 94.9%, nearly doubling from $237.1 million in fiscal 1986 to $462.2 million in fiscal 1995 -- even though the population only grew 16.3% (from 158,200 to 184,000 = 25,800). Overall, our analysis showed that the level of spending for five functions increased at varying rates greater than the 94.9% base level increase and that the level of spending for seven functions increased at varying rates slower than the base level rate increase. For example, the level of spending for Welfare increased by 286.5% from fiscal 1986 to 1995, or an increase of $31.8 million from $11.1 million in fiscal 1986 to $42.9 million in fiscal 1994. From another perspective, the rate of increase in Welfare spending was 191.6% greater than the 94.9% rate of increase for general growth.
General Government increased by 131.8% between fiscal 1986 and 1995, or an increase of $28.2 million from $21.4 million in fiscal 1986 to $49.6 million in fiscal 1995. The rate of increase in General Government spending was 36.9% 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 69.3%, or $22.1 million from $31.9 million in fiscal 1986 to $54.0 million in fiscal 1995. The rate of increase in Public Safety spending was 25.6% slower than the 94.9% rate of increase for general growth.
Public Works increased by 34.6%, or an increase of $6.3 million from $18.2 million in fiscal 1986 to $24.5 million in fiscal 1995. The rate of increase in Public Works spending was 60.0% 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 98.8% between fiscal 1985 and 1994, or an increase of $79.6 million from $80.6 million in fiscal 1986 to $160.2 million in fiscal 1995. However, Education suffered in comparison to the higher rates of spending increases for Welfare (286.5%) and General Governmental Spending (131.8%) compared to the 94.95 base level rate of increase in general growth.
Education's rate of spending increase over the past 10 fiscal years was only 3.9% faster than the rate of increase for general growth, which was significantly less than the 14.6% rate increase in school population (from 14,761 to 16,921) during the same fiscal years.
Based on the County Manager's recommendation to the Board to advertise a higher rate increase for real estate taxes for the fifth calendar year in a row, if adopted, and the BVSCA's 1995 survey results, taxes and County expenditures have are likely to continue to grow as among the greatest issues of concern to our members.
If you have any concerns about the County's budget and the proposed Calendar Year 1996 real estate tax rate of $0.984 per $100 of assessed value, the Executive Committee encourages members to participate in the County's budget and tax rate public hearings scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6, 1996, respectively. These public hearings will begin at 7:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as possible, at the Kenmore Middle School Auditorium, 200 South Carlin Springs Road, Arlington County, Virginia. After the tax hearing to be held on March 6, 1996, the County Board may adopt a tax rate lower than $0.984 per $100 of assessed value, but it cannot adopt a higher rate.
The Association reported in the prior issue of its Newsletter (January/February 1996) that the County has been approached during the last two months by Arlington citizens and business persons, who are interested in seeing the proposed Northern Virginia Professional Baseball Stadium located in Arlington County. We reported that Chairman Hunter writes in his letter of January 11, 1996, that because of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority's tight timetable, it will likely be necessary to schedule the County Board's consideration of whether or not to "express interest" [for a professional baseball stadium in Arlington] at a future County Board meeting. Also, at that time the County Board will consider a public participation process as well as create an Ad Hoc Baseball Stadium Advisory Committee.
At the County Board meeting of February 3, 1996, Agenda Item 12, the Board voted 4-1 to authorize $100,000 to study the feasibility of constructing a major league baseball stadium for the Twin Bridges Marriot area north of Crystal City or the RF&P property near Crystal City. Before the Board voted, however, seven citizens testified about the proposed committee and study. Two of these citizens indicated support for a major league baseball park in Arlington and generally expressed support for the study. The other speakers generally expressed no opinion, or expressed preliminary reservations about the stadium proposal. Two of these other speakers included the President of Aurora Highlands Civic Association, Sue Super, and the President of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association, Rebecca Gray. Because the members and residents of these South Arlington Civic Associations will likely be the most affected by the proposed stadium, not to mention all Arlingtonians, if ultimately implemented, we have included their comments and the Board's comments for our members information.
Sue Super: " Good morning, I think it's still morning. At this point, I'm glad to be here to be able to give our comments. I'm Sue Super and I'm the President of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association. And although we had to specify on the speaker's slips a for-or-against stance on the County Manager's proposal, frankly our association and our executive committee have mixed feelings about the proposed committee and study and we have not taken an official stand.
I think the real point is -- does the County Board really have a choice about creating an advisory committee and appropriating funds to study the baseball stadium proposal? Probably not. Not if the Board wants to hear from the community and not if the Board wants to give thorough technical studies and sound cost benefit analyses for the proposed stadium siting at the north tip along the 14th Street Bridge. So far the only analysis we have seen from the Virginia baseball club is an economic benefit analysis by the consulting firm "Peat Marwick" thats right--only benefits for the people of Virginia. No mention at all of the substantial cost to government and taxpayers of financing and maintaining a public stadium, related transportation improvements, infrastructure, police and community services, and so on. No mention of the non- monetary costs, such as community impacts and transportation congestion. That study or rather the "promotional document" apparently took at least two months.
The Arlington study which would be much more comprehensive will have only the same amount of time according to the time line in the County Manager's report. That is a tight dead line.
It's very frustrating that to get this critically needed information, the County, not the baseball promoters, is being forced into a position of spending at least $100,000, and possibly $250,000, of taxpayers' money and many hours of staff and community time. All this during a time of increasingly tight budgets and competing priorities, and all this because of promotion from a group that does not have a team yet, does not have financing and has been turned down so far in Richmond for financing ideas, involving the lottery and raising the state's sales tax.
Our Civic Association has not taken a position on this baseball stadium issue as of yet. Like the County Board, we need more solid information. But we are understandably concerned about another stadium proposal in South Arlington when only 4 years ago the football stadium proposal was soundly defeated. This new proposal certainly raises many of the same issues and concerns. Even though the baseball site focuses on the north tip instead of the football stadium proposal for the south tract, Potomac Yards 20-20 area.
One of the major concerns then as now is the impact of traffic and parking in and around our residential neighborhoods and commercial districts. Although the north tip has been compared by some to the site of Camden Yards in Baltimore, which is surrounded by commercial development. It may be more appropriate to compare the north tip to Memorial Stadium, or as the other speaker just said, the Fenway Park in Boston, because of the proximity of residential areas that could be severely impacted by traffic and parking. The Aurora Highlands Civic Association Executive Committee first heard about the proposal from a January 11th, Washington Post article. If you care to go back to the question that was recently raised with Richard Runkle during the period when he was president over the last year, he did not raise the fact that he was actively promoting the idea of a baseball stadium in Arlington with the Executive Board. And I think that from your experience on the immediate attention and reaction the community has had since the January 11 article, I think that certainly collaborates our position as far as not being contacted. Perhaps, other people in the community were, but it was never brought up formally to the Civic Association.
Since then, we along with our neighboring Arlington Ridge Association, have raised questions and concerns for the County Board in letters and meetings. And after we contacted the Board about the issue, we since have been impressed with Board Chair, Jim Hunter's, and staff's, efforts to meet with us, keep us informed, and assure us there would be a public participation process. The County Manager's report calls for representatives of both Civic Associations to be included in the committee. The County Manager's report covers many important points for the study, such as site suitability, transportation, environmental and financial analysis, public process, and finally cost benefits analysis of the economic and budget impacts of the stadium and local infrastructure to determine the fiscal value of the stadium project to Arlington. And that examination of whether this project will give a fair return to Arlington. We hope that it will also be an analysis of the return to the neighborhood, particularly on the non- monetary, quality of life impacts. I also have some concerns about the January 26th County Manager's Report to express on behalf of our Association." [Timer beeper beeps in the background.]
Chairman Hunter: "Would you wrap up in just a matter of a minute or so."
Sue Super: "[She acknowledges okay.] The first concern is the focus and intent of the advisory committee. I would ask the County Board to clarify this point. In our view it is imperative that this committee be as balanced as possible in terms of background, expertise, and viewpoints for the charter to review the staff's information analyses and gather community input as objectively as possible. We are concerned that this committee not be assembled to serve as an advocacy committee for the stadium. There must be more than token community representation. Therefore, we have specific wording changes in the staff report. On page 1, the committee is described as pursuing potential siting of the stadium, that's on page 1 under issue, paragraph 1. Perhaps some words were left out, but we feel that it would be more appropriate to use the words to study rather than to pursue. I am uncomfortable with the current wording which could cast the Committee as an advocacy group pursuing a stadium, instead of a broad based committee studying the issue and input from the community objectively as possible.
On Page 4, Fiscal Impact, the first sentence says that the committee and subsequently the County Board needs to make an informed decision and prepare a submission. Apparently, the committee would be expected to be involved in preparing a submission. I question if that is appropriate. We're dealing with submissions, if one is eventually prepared, could be appropriate. But planning to involve the community directly in preparing a submission again casts the committee as an stadium advocacy group.
Also, I have a question about the recommendation on a public hearing. I was surprise to see that there would be any question about holding a public hearing prior to such an important decision. We would also suggest that the committee include representation from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and from committees working on the Jeff Davis Corridor Planning. I would also like to note that naming committee members by Tuesday is somewhat problematic for our Association, because we do not have a full meeting until February 14th. The generic list of evaluation criteria for the stadium architect on page 6 does not specifically include some considerations raised by our Association, some of which are specific to the North-Tip site.
For example, approval from the FAA for a stadium close to the end of runways, impact of noise on a proposed open air stadium from low flying aircraft as they land and take off and their reverse thrusters on landing; Chesapeake Bay Act on wetlands requirement, coordination with the recently publicized study of the 14th Street Bridge; impacts on rush hour traffic of week day games, effective overflow parking on neighborhoods; and the Pentagon Fashion Centre Parking Garage, since we've been told that the proposed 45,000 to 47,000 spectator capacity stadium, will only have 2,000 to 3,000 parking spaces on site. Thank you and I do have a copy of my prepared notes."
Chairman Hunter: "That will be very helpful. If you would give them to the clerk, we would appreciate it."
Super: "Thank you."
Rebecca Gray: "Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Board. I concur with everything that Sue Super just said and I will try not repeat the same points. First of all, I would like to thank the Board for the opportunity to be here today and to comment, and I also want to thank you for the rapid turn around time in getting information out to us after the article hit the newspaper on January 11 and thats very very much appreciated and, hopefully, we can keep everybody up to date on what's going on.
I would like to make one clarification. I did not know of Mr. Runkle's involvement in the stadium until the Saturday after the January 11th article in the Post. To my knowledge, he has not contacted anyone in our Civic Association concerning this, prior to that Saturday. Also, in the meeting that we had, the joint meeting with the Executive Committee of Aurora Highlands, we had approximately 35 people there including our Executive Board. And there were only, contrary to what Mr. Runkle may have led you to believe by his statements, at that meeting 3 people who were for the stadium. One was Mr. Runkle; one was an attorney who was representing one of the investors in the team; and third was a gentlemen who lives on Capital Hill, who makes a living doing the studies for things like placing stadiums. So there was only one that had no financial interest in the stadium placement.
This [will be] brought before our membership, as a whole for the first time at our February 14th meeting. So like Sue, I can't speak definitively for our Association yet because we haven't taken a vote. But from what I've heard so far, no one has called me in favor of the stadium. All the calls that I have received have been against. Hopefully, if anyone is for it, they will come to our meeting on the 14th and have their say and we will be taking a vote. Our concerns from the people, our members, that we have heard from in our Executive Committees are the same, as were expressed with the football stadium. And quite frankly, we're having a hard time understanding why a baseball stadium seems to be so much acceptable to the County than the football stadium. A football stadium has what 12 games a year. A baseball stadium will have 81, as we understand it. And we will have games on work days and people are going to be trying to get to the games the same time people are going to be trying to commute home.
Also, as we've heard with the HOV discussion today, getting people to take public transportation sometimes is extremely difficult. They are only apparently planning 2 to 3 thousand parking spaces with this stadium. It is very difficult to persuade people to use public transportation. I think what we're afraid is going to happen is with the stadium of 45 to 47 thousand people, that people are going to be parking throughout the neighborhood. They're going to be parking at the Fashion Centre, the Price Club parking lots, probably the shopping center parking lots, all the way up Columbia Pike. Any place that they can stash their car until after the game. This is not only going to be disruptive to the neighborhoods, but can also be very destructive to the commercial establishments whose patrons will not be able to use them because they won't be able to park.
Also, if you look at 45,000 people, we've got 3 metro sites. Those metro sites are not really within walking distance. That's a long walk. It's not a direct route. If you're parking at the Pentagon, you've got to go under the highway and around, very difficult to walk from any of the subway sites, because you're crossing some major highways and the sidewalks are very small and in some cases indeed as you get closer to the stadium right now but non-existent. But let's just for the sake of calculations, let's say 45,000 people. Let's divide that by 3 metro stops, that's 15,000 people per stop to be moved within the space within an hour to an hour-and-a-half. So let's say we are going to move them in an hour-and- a-half. If we look at picking them up by buses and busing them over to the stadium, a bus holds what about 60 people. So we're looking and let's say they can make 3 trips in an hour and a half. That's loading, driving over there, unloading, and getting back to their pick up stops. Or roughly, just back on the envelope, this is no fancy transportation study but we're roughly looking at 83 buses per stop for a total of 249 buses.
I don't think there's enough room in Crystal City and Pentagon City to put all of those buses and I guess one of the bottom lines is that right now the baseball authority, it doesn't have a team. It doesn't have financing and they're expecting all these municipalities to jump through hoops like Arlington County and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that may not even come to bear. Our feeling is before any money is spent, or any appropriations made, maybe the number one question needs to be asked and an answer found--Will the FAA permit a stadium there... that's a real show stopper and maybe that should be answered before any funding goes forward on this. We very much want our community, our Civic Association to participate in any kind of commission or authority that you set up. But we would also like more than token participation. If we're going to have 2 memberships, one for ourselves, one for Aurora Highlands on a committee of about 15, I'm not sure that really represents the impact that this going to have on our community. Thank you."
Chairman Hunter: "Thank you Mr. Gray, I appreciate you being here."
Board Member Eisenberg: "Ms. Gray, can I ask a question? I'm having one little bit of difficulty. Did you say you were going to have a vote on the 14th of February?"
Ms. Gray: "Right, at our meeting. Yes."
Board Member Eisenberg: "Then how were you going to be able to participate objectively in an advisory commission if the Civic Association has taken a vote before the advisory commission work was even done?"
Ms. Gray: "I don't think I understand your question."
Board Member Eisenberg: "You are going to take a vote on whether or not to support the stadium."
Ms. Gray: "Right."
Board Member Eisenberg: "The advisory commission would be barely getting under way and you all would be members of the advisory commission. So how do you put a vote either for or against when there is no report on which to vote. Only the notion of whether something is.
Ms. Gray: "I think our community has been through enough transportation studies and enough studies on the previous stadium to know that this is going to potentially have an adverse impact. Now, we are going to keep an open mind. If someone comes forward with is it going to be feasible to put in an additional metro stop there? Will that work, how are the traffic situations and the parking situations to be handled? Granted, we need a lot more information on this. But from what we know already about traffic in that area, I don't know how anybody could reasonably look to put something that's going to attract that many people within that small a timeframe."
Board Member Eisenberg: " Ms. Gray, with all due respects, I appreciate your view and I hope you'll respond here to me in an helpful way, because I know you all want to be helpful, and I know you feel very sincerely about the issue, and I want to see if there's is some meeting of the minds here. The difficulty I'm having with the decision and you all certainly can do whatever you wish, private organization, independent. You have your own views. But I'm having difficulty in terms of the validity of a process in which you all would have formal representation on a committee that basically is engaged in reconnaissance and exploration, having already made a decision. A formal organizational decision to oppose something without the information, without studies, that the Board would have to have to make a decision about, and that would be precisely the background for a decision. Isn't that prejudging of the issue?"
Ms. Gray: " We would certainly, whoever would be the representative, be expected to gather information and come back and share that information."
Board Member Eisenberg: "Wouldn't they be already carrying with them as the representation of the association the opposition from day one going into that advisory committee?"
Chairman Hunter: "Let me jump in here and try to help Ms. Gray out. Maybe, what you will be doing and trying to put words in your mouth and to see if these are acceptable is that when you take your vote you'll be coaching the question that people are voting on. It all depends on how that question is phased and you decided on and presumably you won't be prejudging a process that may or may not be continuing. But you will be acting based on the information that you have then available."
Ms. Gray: "Correct."
Chairman Hunter: "So, if further information comes out, for example, we have vertical helicopters that are going to somehow bring these people into the stadium or something we haven't envisioned yet."
Board Member Eisenberg: "That will guarantee, a no vote."
Chairman Hunter: "Or some imaginative solution to these parking and transportation difficulties that we haven't envisioned yet."
Ms. Gray: "Exactly, we know that site is going to be used for something at some time and maybe if this committee is going to go forward, what needs to be done is looked at what things could that site be used for. We know its going to happen and we know development is going to happen there, but what kinds of development that can reasonably take place and not overburden the transportation and the facilities that are already available. And if it were going to be expanded what would have to go in to do that, and then what degree of expansion would that bring? Could a metro site be put there and how much would it cost? And how much real extra people carrying capacity would that bring? Many, many questions to be answered, absolutely."
Chairman Hunter: "Indeed, there are. Thank you very much for being here."
Board Member Eisenberg: "I think that was a helpful interchange, I appreciate that Mr. Chairman."
Board Member Chris Zimmerman, who was recently elected to the Arlington County Board in the special election on January 30, 1996, and sworn into office the day before this Board meeting, voted to oppose the funding of the feasibility study. Board member Zimmerman said he was concerned about beginning a process that might get Arlington into a bidding game to attract a baseball team, similar to other communities spending little by little more to attract/retain large industrial concerns.
Board Member Zimmerman: "What are the chances that this thing will actually come about, because basically what we are doing is wagering some money now. And that's not necessarily illegitimate to do. Sometimes you got to take a chance to accomplish something of great value, but I want to know what the odds are on this lottery ticket before I pay for it. I don't mind taking a look in the door, but I want to know how much I got to pay for a peak before I do. And when I look at the sheer number of "ifs," I really have some doubts. There are just so may questions about whether there will be a team; whether a team will want to be here, whether the folks in Baltimore won't stop us from putting a team anywhere in the Washington Metropolitan area anyway; as well as all the many technical questions, including the approval of four different federal agencies. That makes me wonder. So, that's where I have a problem with all of this. Particularly, when we haven't really seen much evidence, although it intuitively makes sense, as it has been expressed here that "gee" this is a much better site for a ball club than anybody has been looking at farther out in the suburbs. That makes sense to me. But you know, I don't see a letter from anybody involved in baseball saying they want to put a stadium here and I'm struck by the fact that there is nobody here [County Board meeting room], who's come down representing any of those interests to say you know we would really like you guys to look at it. Its real interesting.
Board Member Zimmerman: Eisenberg referred to us as having been courted. I'm not impressed by the fervor of the "wooing." So, at this point, I'm willing to go far enough to say we shouldn't close the door, we ought to take a look at it. And for that reason, I'm prepared to support the creation of an advisory committee, but a commitment of what I think is actually a quarter of a million dollars judging from the County Manager's report seems to me too much too soon. Particularly, in view of some of the other hard choices that we are going to have to make shortly, in view of your budget presentation earlier. So, that's where I am at the moment."
Board Member Eisenberg: "I think we entered this with our eyes wide open and a firm grip on both the realities and our wallets. I think we have a possibility here, but until we explore it we don't know whether it can turn into a reality. If the issues involved can be adequately handled, there is no reason to oppose this as a "notion" and as a "possibility," and as a product at the end of the day. If they can't be handled there is no reason to support it. I think there is great difference between support and interest. I am interested in it. I have nothing to support at this time. I think we would be remiss in our duties and responsibilities as a governing body if we don't recognize the economic environment in which we live today and be willing to invest in the exploration of opportunities that could "could" substantially benefit our region without harming our community. I think we owe it to ourselves to not "knee-jerk- no" on this and keep ourselves in a position of exploration working with the communities involved to see if "feasibility" and "desirability" can in fact come together. I think this is a prudent step and a careful step that does not bind us to anything other than information. Shortly following Board member Eisenberg's comments, the Board voted to establish the advisory committee and to authorize funding for the study."
Please contact the Civic Association's Member Information Line Telephone Number at (703) 528-1887, and express your views on whether baseball would be good for Arlington.
Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority Legislation
The Association has researched applicable 1996 legislation concerning the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority and has identified two legislative initiatives proposing significant changes to the Authority. These initiatives are Senate Bill 541 Baseball Stadium Authority and House Bill 1502 Baseball Stadium Authority. Senate Bill 541 was patroned by Senator Richard L. Saslaw, the Democratic majority leader in the Virginia Senate; and co-sponsored by Senator Janet Howell (D) representing part of Arlington County and Fairfax County, and Senators Hawkins (R), Potts (R), Quayle (R), Waddell (D), and Woods (R). House Bill 1502 was patroned by Delegate Vincent F. Callahan, Jr. (R), representing part of Falls Church and Mclean; and co-sponsored by Delegate James F. Almand (D), representing part of Arlington County and Fairfax County, and Delegate Karen L. Darner (D), representing South Arlington. Also, House Bill 1502 was co-sponsored by Delegates Albo (R), Brickley (D), Dillard (R), Fisher (R), Harris (R), Heilig (D), Hull (D), Katzen (R), Keating (D), May (R), McClure (R), McEachin (D), Mims (R), Moran (D), Nelms (R), O'Brien (R), Plum (D), Puller (D), Scott (D), Watts (D); and Senators Hawkins (R), Lambert (D), and Potts (R).
Association President Ragland has reviewed these two legislative initiatives (Senate Bill 541 and House Bill 1502) on the General Assembly home page and has determined that the proposed changes in the Senate bill are substantially the same as the proposed changes in the House bill, except that the House bill proposes two additional significant changes. The House bill eliminates the prohibition on using state funds to pay the salary of the executive director of the authority; and grants the right to acquire by eminent domain any real property which it may deem necessary for the purposes of acquiring a site for a stadium.
Specifically, the proposed changes state, under Section 15.1-227.77. Acquisition of property. Subsection D. The Authority shall have the right to acquire by eminent domain any real property, including fixtures and improvements, which it deems necessary for the purposes of acquiring a site or sites for a major or minor league baseball stadium, offsite utilities, parking lots or garages and any other items related to the construction and operation of a stadium. The Authority may exercise the power of eminent domain pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 1.1 (25-46.1 et seq.) of Title 25 enacted for the exercise of the power of eminent domain by a county, city or town.
Also, for your information, under Section 15.1-227.89. Tax exemption. The proposed changes state It is hereby found, determined, and declared that the acquisition of a major league baseball franchise and a major league baseball stadium will result in substantial economic development in the Commonwealth and is in all respects for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth and is a public purpose and that the Authority will be performing an essential government function in the exercise of the powers conferred by this chapter. Accordingly, no tax or assessment upon any property or project of the Authority or any interest therein shall be assessed to the Authority or any other party. This exemption shall include, without limitation, all local property taxes, taxes upon leasehold interests and taxation pursuant to Section 58.1-3603.]
Other than the two exceptions, both bills' proposed changes to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority can be summarized as follows: (i) exempts the Authority from the Virginia Public Procurement Act, (ii) eliminates the requirement that office, restaurant, concession, retail and lodging facilities be adjacent to the stadium to be included within the definition of "facility," (iii) defines minor league baseball stadium, (iv) clarifies that the Authority may lease its property to the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, (v) states that no bonds shall be issued until the Authority has executed a long-term lease with a major league baseball franchise, (vi) allows sales tax revenues to be applied, in addition to the repayment of bonds, to stadium operating expenditures and other purposes, (vii) provides that the locality in which the stadium is located may direct that all admissions tax revenues generated by the stadium be remitted to the Authority for the repayment of bonds, stadium operating expenditures and other purposes, (viii) clarifies that the Authority and its employees are included within the Virginia Tort Claims Act, and (ix) provides that no tax or assessment upon any property or project of the Authority or any interest therein, including local property taxes and taxes upon leasehold interests, shall be assessed to the Authority or any other party.
SB 541 Baseball Stadium Authority.
The status of Senate Bill 541, as shown on the General Assembly Home page is as follows:
HB 1502 Baseball Stadium Authority.
The status of House Bill 1502, as shown on the General Assembly Home page, reflects bipartisan support for this bill. However, Democratic Delegates show greater support for this bill than Republican Delegates. For example, on February 13, 1996, 71 delegates (47 Democrats and 24 Republicans) voted to approve the bill and 28 Delegates (22 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 1 Independent) voted to oppose the proposed bill. One Delegate (R) voted in abstention. The status of House Bill 1502 and the names of the Delegates and their positions on the bill are as follows:
01/22/96 House: Presented & ordered printed 962319144
02/12/96 House: Printed as engrossed 962319144
02/13/96 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (71-Y 28-N)
YEAS--Abbitt (D), Albo (R), Almand (D), Armstrong (D), Baker (R), Barlow (D), Behm (D), Brickley (D), Callahan (R), Cantor (R), Christian (D), Clement (D), Connally (D), Cooper (D), Councill (D), Cranwell (D), Crittenden (D), Cunningham (D), Darner (D), Deeds (D), Diamonstein (D), Dickinson (D), Dillard (R), Dudley (R), Fisher (R), Forbes (R), Grayson (D), Griffith (R), Hall (D), Hamilton (R), Harris (R), Heilig (D), Hull (D), Ingram (R), Jackson (D), Johnson (D), Jones, D.C. (D), Jones, J.C. (D), Katzen (R), Keating (D), Landes (R), May (R), McClure (R), McDonnell (R), McEachin (D), Mims (R), Moore (D), Moran (D), Murphy (D), Nelms (R), O'Brien (R), Parrish (R), Phillips (D), Plum (D), Puller (D), Reynolds (D), Robinson (D), Scott (D), Sherwood (R), Shuler (D), Spruill (D), Stump (D), Tate (D), Thomas (D), Van Landingham (D), Van Yahres (D), Watkins (R), Watts (D), Way (R), Woodrum (D), and Mr. Speaker, Moss (D)--71
NAYS--Bennett (D), Bloxom (R), Bryant (R), Cox (R), Croshaw (D), Crouch (R), Davies (D), DeBoer (D), Drake (R), Guest (R), Hargrove (R), Howell (R), Kilgore (R), Marshall (R), Melvin (D), Morgan (R), Nixon (R), Orrock (R), Putney (I), Reid (R), Rhodes (R), Rollison (R), Ruff (R), Tata (R), Wagner (R), Wardrup (R), Weatherholtz (R), Wilkins (R)--28
ARLINGTON COURIER EDITORIAL FEBRUARY 14, 1996
[It should be noted that the following Arlington Courier Editorial entitled "Is baseball good for Arlington?" is copyrighted. The contents may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher, Arlington Courier, P.O. Box 7560, Arlington, VA 22207. The Civic Association received permission to publish this editorial in the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter.]
"Is baseball good for Arlington?
Shakespeare's Hamlet moped and groaned that there was "something rotten in the state of Denmark." We wonder what he would smell if he were to walk around Crystal City these days--and we aren't referring to the sludge plant.
The news that our County Board members are gungho on the idea of putting a baseball stadium on the north tract of the RF&P property struck as a ridiculous throwback to the Redskins stadium baloney of a couple of years ago. But the more we think about, it's not only ridiculous, it's outrageous--and it raises a lot of unanswered questions.
For instance--where does the County get off proposing something for a piece of property it doesn't own (at least not yet)? Two years ago, County Manager Anton S. Gardner held a splashy press conference announcing the settlement of a lawsuit brought by RF&P against Arlington and at least 12 other jurisdictions and businesses because they were a party to some dumping on the property that left RF&P footing a hefty bill for the cleanup of toxic wastes. The "settlement" amounted to a "swap" of sorts: RF&P would give the land to the County in exchange for transferring the approved development density for the north tract onto the south tract (Potomac Yard). To our knowledge, this "swap" still hasn't taken place.
What about the Charles E. Smith Cos.? They are development partners with RF&P and are currently leveraging to buy out all of RF&P's property in Crystal City--including the north tract and Potomac Yard. If that deal goes through, how will it affect the previous one between RF&P and the County? And does Smith even WANT a stadium on a site for which it already has an approved site plan for a seven-story office building?
What about the traffic and logistic problems? It is so difficult to get into that area that patrons of the Washington Shakespeare Company still have trouble finding its new Clark Street Playhouse.
And what about Washington Shakespeare Company? Those folks have literally poured their hearts, souls and labor into transforming an old warehouse into a fine arts center--will they be booted out into the cold if a stadium is built?
We urge the ad hoc committee charged with studying the stadium to look into these questions and weigh carefully the hidden agendas that lurk behind hasty ideas."
The Association has followed-up on the status of two Initiative and Referendum bills, which were submitted this past year at the 1996 General Assembly.
Senate Joint Resolution (SJ) 91, Constitutional amendment; initiative and referendum, patroned by Charles L. Waddell (D), made out it out of Committee for the first time in General Assembly history. Efforts to pass initiative and referendum measures in Virginia date to 1902.
In our prior issue of the Newsletter, the Association reported that Governor George Allen had included in his State of the Commonwealth Address to the Virginia General Assembly his personal support for Initiative and Referendum. Also, we noted that the Arlington County Civic Federation, representing 68 non-partisan organizations, adopted Initiative and Referendum as part of the Federation's 1994, 1995, and 1996 Legislative Packages and requested 5 percent of the total vote cast for Governor in the previous gubernatorial election be required to put statutory initiatives and referenda on the ballot and 8 percent for state constitutional amendments. See the BVSCA home page on the WEB at "http://www2.dgsys.com/~bvsca/" for the Civic Federation 1996 Legislative Package.
In 1993, the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association voted to join the United Virginians for Initiative and Referendum ("UVIR"), which is a non-partisan statewide coalition of citizen organizations that see initiative and referendum ("I & R") as the best means to take important issues to the people and bring them to a vote through the ballot process.
Senator Waddell's proposed Constitutional amendment is summarized on the General Assembly home page. His proposed SJ 91 bill sets forth procedures for indirect initiative measures to enact state statutes, initiative measures to amend the Constitution of Virginia, and referenda to nullify laws or sections of laws enacted by the General Assembly. The statutory initiative and referendum powers do not apply to certain appropriations and finance laws. Petitions for state statutory initiatives and referenda must have signatures from each county and city in the Commonwealth equal in number to at least 10 percent of the number of voters registered in the county or city. Based on approximately three million registered voters, this requirement translates to 300,000 signatures across the state. Petitions for constitutional initiatives must have signatures equal in number to at least 15 percent of the number of registered voters from each county and city or approximately 450,000 signatures across the state.
On January 30, 1996, the Virginia Senate reported from the Privileges and Elections Committee a vote of 8-6 in support of SJ 91. The YEAS votes included: (1)Senator Miller, K. G. (R), representing all of Culpeper, Page and Rappahannock Counties, the City of Harrisonburg, and part of Fauuier, Rockingham, and Stafford Counties; (2)Senator Waddell(D), representing all of Loudoun County, and part of Fairfax County; (3)Senator Earley(R), representing part of the Cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach; (4)Senator Hawkins(R), representing all of Pittsylvania County, the City of Danville, and part of Campbell County; (5)Senator Martin(R), representing all of Amelia County, the City of Colonial Heights, and part of Chesterfield and Dinwiddie Counties; (6)Senator Bolling(R), representing all of Caroline, Essex, Hanover, King and Queen, King William, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, and Richmond Counties, and part of Gloucester County; (7)Senator Hanger(R), representing all of Augusta, Highland, and Rockbridge Counties, the Cities of Buena Vista, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, and part of Rockingham County; and (8) Senator Schrock(R), representing part of the City of Virginia Beach. The NAYS votes included: (1)Senator Gartlan(D), representing part of Fairfax County; (2)Senator Walker (D), representing part of the Cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach; (3)Senator Holland(D), representing Appomattox, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Sussex Counties, and part of Dinwiddie, Greensville, Isle of Wright, Mechlenburg, Prince George, and South Hampton Counties, and part of the Cities of Emporia, Franklin, and Suffolk; (4)Senator Lambert(D), representing part of Henrico County and part of the City of Richmond; (5)Senator Marye(D), representing Grayson, Montgomery, and Smyth Counties, all of the City of Galax, and part of Carroll and Pulaski Counties; and (6) Senator Whipple(D), representing all of the City of Falls Church and part of Arlington County.
On February 5, 1996, the Virginia Senate voted in a 20-20 tie to defeat the proposed SJ 91 Constitutional amendment. The YEAS vote included Senator Janet Howell (D), representing part of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, and Senators Benedetti (R), Bolling (R), Earley (R), Goode (D), Hanger (R), Hawkins (R), Houck (D), Martin (R), Miller, K.G. (R), Newman (R), Norment (R), Quayle (R), Schrock (R), Stolle (R), Stosch (R), Trumbo (R), Waddell (R), Wampler (R), and Williams (R).
The NAYS vote included 16 Democrats and 4 Republicans. The Democrats included Senators Colgan, Couric, Edwards, Gartlan, Holland, Lambert, Lucas, Marsh, Marye, Maxwell, Miller, Y.B., Reasor, Saslaw, Ticer, Walker, and Whipple.
For your information, 3 of the 4 Republicans voting against initiative and referendum ran unopposed in the November 1995 General Election. These Republicans included Senators Barry, Chichester, and Woods. The other Republican, Senator Potts, was opposed in the last election. Also, it should be noted that Senator Woods (R), representing part of Fairfax County, and part of the City of Fairfax, reversed her position of support for initiative and referendum from prior years.
Another politician reversing his position on initiative and referendum from prior years was Lt. Governor Don Beyer (D), who voted against the measure. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on February 6, 1996, in an article titled "Beyer tie-breaker raises voting question," Beyer said that he didn't want to avoid voting [on the 20-20 vote], fearing it could be used against him in other parliamentary disputes.
Under the terms of [Senator Waddell's] proposed Constitutional amendment, the Washington Post reported on February 6, 1996, in an article titled "Beyer's Tiebreaker Plunges Va. Senate Into Fight...," that citizen groups could force a statewide vote on issues such as gun control, abortion, environmental regulations, term limits, or tax caps by obtaining the signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in every city and county in Virginia. This is empowering people, said Frank B. Atkinson, counsel to the governor. This is giving people the right to vote. Critics complain that the measure would open Virginia up to a more chaotic form of government. "If you look at the California ballot, I'm not sure that type of democracy is what we want to see here in Virginia," said Senate Democratic Leader Richard L. Saslaw (Fairfax)."
01/22/96 Senate: Presented & ordered printed 965334812
On Monday Beyer, who lives in Old Town Alexandria, broke a tie that killed a proposal to let Virginians organize petition drives to get proposals put on statewide ballots. Voters in most states have those rights, which are called initiative and referendum. Beyer sided with those, such as Senators Joe "Sheep" Garlan and Dick Saslaw of Fairfax County who believe initiative and referendum would lead to confusing, expensive, emotional campaigns that would wreak havoc on the state.
How's that for trusting the folks who elected you? Mind you, merely frivolous issues could not get on ballots. As introduced by Sen. Charles Waddell, D-Sterling, petitions with signatures representing 10 percent of voters in every city and county would be needed to get an issue on the ballot. The legislature let local referendums on pari-mutuel betting on horse races happen with only 5 percent signing petitions. Why the different treatment?
The legislature is supposed to represent the will of the people, but some issues--such as elected school boards--can get bottled up for years without any good reason. Initiative and referendum would be a legitimate safety valve for voters when that happens. Virginians deserve to have that right.
[It should be noted that the above Arlington Journal Editorial, dated February 7, 1996, is copyrighted. The contents may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher, The Arlington Journal, 2720 Prosperity Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22034-1000. The Civic Association received permission to publish this editorial in the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter.]
In another example, on February 10, 1996, the Richmond Times Dispatch Editorial stated The House Rules Committee recently took the early lead in the contest for least surprising move of the session. It spiked Delegate Kirk Cox's proposed constitutional amendment authorizing initiatives and citizen- generated referendums. The amendment received the heave-ho last year, too. This week, in a debate focusing on the Lieutenant Governor's role, the Senate also rejected initiatives and referendums. The Senate's stance was neither more nor less surprising than the Houses'.
The Assembly's resistance to statewide initiatives and referendums betrays a suspicion of the voters Senators and Delegates supposedly represent. Other states allow relatively smooth access to the ballot for measures voters consider vital. Citizens resort to initiatives and referendums when they conclude elected officials are ignoring their wishes. Two decades ago California's famous Proposition 13 sparked a tax revolt that continues to affect national politics. Various states have enacted term limits through direct citizen participation.
The process can be abused. Some states probably make it too easy for issues to come to vote. But surely the sages belonging to the oldest and most distinguished legislative body in the New World (or at least in Virginia) possess sufficient skills to write a constitutional amendment opening the ballot to referendums enjoying significant popular support while closing it to questions dear to the hearts of flakes. Virginia has a short ballot; it can afford to lengthen it while still keeping it shorter than a child's Christmas list.
The Assembly doesn't shun all referendums. It likes the referendums it initiates. In recent years, Virginians have voted on referendums regarding pari-mutuel racing and the Lottery. Various proposals regarding floating casinos would put the cards in the voters' hands. And, of course, constitutional amendments and certain bond issues also must receive the voters' endorsement in referendums. As long as the Assembly sends them to the electorate, referendums apparently are OK. But referendums sponsored by regular Virginians apparently are not.
Although the amendment's reception came as no surprise, the Assembly's annual cringe when considering the question is baffling. Initiatives and referendums arise from citizen frustration. If the good ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly adequately represent the people, then they have no reason to fear expressions of the people's will.
[It should be noted that the above Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial, dated February 10, 1996, is copyrighted. The contents may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, P.O. Box 85333, Richmond, VA 23293-0001. The Civic Association received permission to publish this editorial in the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter.]
WMATA Bus Garage
Purchase agreement is being reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). After FTA approval, the agreement will be approved by both the Arlington County and WMATA Boards (March 1996). The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has asked WMATA to submit additional information to supplement the Corrective Action Plan which was prepared to indicate the mitigation measures that would be undertaken to address groundwater contamination. WMATA has been removing free product on a weekly basis and monitoring the ground water through testing of monitoring wells. During the monitoring period, the well nearest the former C&P site showed greater concentrations of hazardous waste. DEQ is now reviewing reports from both the WMATA and C&P sites together to determine if the current source of contamination is coming from the WMATA site.
C&P (former)/Rocca Trustee
The County purchased the right of way, building, and western portion of the former C&P property in September 1994. Asbestos removal and building demolition are scheduled for April 1996. DEQ is still trying to resolve the issue of contamination of ground water in the west remainder. Asbestos was found in the roof patching and floor tiles and mastic. The asbestos will be removed before the building is demolished.
4/5ths Limited (4000 North 5th Road)
Property Acquired October 1995. County is working with the tenant, Arlington Forest Service Center, on relocation. Some asbestos in flue insulation, roof flashing, and tar mastic on roof vents which will be removed before the building is demolished.
4004 North 5th Road (Arlington Service Center)
Property acquired. Vacant. Some asbestos in floor tiling which will be removed before the building is demolished.
Buckingham Pool, Pool House and Apartment Building
The County is negotiating the agreement with the owners which would permit construction of the North Quincy Street Extension Project. There is asbestos is the flue insulation in the boiler room and in flashing mastic and roof patching and on pipes. These materials will be removed before the building demolition.
[It should be noted that the following Arlington Courier article entitled "Serious crimes increase in County" is copyrighted. The contents may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher, Arlington Courier, P.O. Box 7560, Arlington, VA 22207. The Civic Association received permission to publish this article in the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter.]
Serious crimes in Arlington increased significantly last year after a three-year slump, likely assuring the most densely populated county in Virginia is again the most dangerous. Violent and property crimes in Arlington increased 8.5 percent in 1995, including noticeable increases in every category tracked except forcible rape, according to a report by Arlington County Police. There were 10,069 reports of index crimes in 1994, compared to 10,927 in 1995.
Barring major increases in other urban Virginia counties such as Fairfax last year, Arlington will likely have the highest crime rate per 100,000 residents for at least the sixth consecutive year, according to the most recent data available from the Virginia State Police.
Money magazine, however, rated Arlington among the 14th safest cities in the U.S. in 1994, though the municipality is actually a county. The two comparisons were hotly contested before local elections last fall.
Robberies in Arlington increased 14.5 percent last year (from 276 in 1994 to 316 in 1995), though that rate is still lower than a six-year high reported in 1990, said Sgt. Mike Hill, who directs the homicide and robbery squad for Arlington Police.
Aggravated assaults increased 10.2 percent last year (from 393 in 1994 to 433 in 1995), a trend Hill described as "more serious" than recent years because of frequent involvement by "known gang members."
The murder rate in Arlington increased substantially in 1995, primarily because of the county's first triple murder in June and two murder-suicide incidents, one on Thanksgiving Day and one on Christmas Eve. Though 11 murders were committed last year, that rate is still below the record 12 murders in 1991.
Similarly, incidents of rape did not increase in 1995, with 32 rapes reported in each of the past two years, according to the report. Vehicle theft rates increased more than any other category, 24.6 percent (from 1,095 in 1994 to 1,364 in 1995).
County officials recently have paid special attention to vehicle thefts in Fairlington, where theft rates have nearly doubled in the past three years, according to a recent memo from County Manager Anton S. Gardner. Police and court officials have responded with numerous "late-night, anti-theft operations" and aggressive prosecution, Gardner said.
"We definitely have a serious anti-theft problem and this is an area where, if citizens made just a little bit of effort, they could deter the non-professional car thief," said Dorothy Stepp, president of the Citizens' Crime Prevention Council.
"The citizens need to take this as a wake-up call," Stepp said.
"They need to be more involved and more alert," she said. "The police department cannot do community policing if the community does not participate."
Other property crimes also increased measurably last year. Incidents of breaking and entering increased 3 percent and incidents of larceny increased 6.5 percent last year.