Thursday, March 4, 2010

fear for height in Rosslyn

Charles Monfort, chair of the Arlington County Planning Commission, was the featured speaker at today's meeting of RAFOM, our civic assocation.   Mr. Monfort explained that almost all development projects, including Central Place and 1821 N. Moore St. projects in Rosslyn, are on hold due to the general economic downturn.  

The Planning Commission's Long Range Planning Committee is studying building heights in Rosslyn.  The general principle for height planning is to have the tallest heights closest to the metro, and then have heights taper down as distance from the metro increases.  Development on the east side of Rosslyn along Rt. 66 raises important long-range planning issues.  Issues include avoiding walls of similar height buildings, planning for height tapering, maintaining an attractive Rosslyn cityscape viewed from DC, and preserving sight lines for the proposed Central Place observation deck. 

A change in zoning law to permit taller buildings in Rosslyn has been offered for consideration.  Under current generally applicable zoning law, the County Board can approve buildings having heights up to 300 feet above average site elevation.   A Feb. 26 letter from the real-estate law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich & Walsh has proposed a Zoning Ordinanance Amendment that would allow the County Board to approve, on a case-by-case basis, heights greater than 300 feet in Rosslyn.  A case-by-case determination of heights above 300 feet would put greater demands on the community to stay informed about proposed projects.

Other items at the meeting:
  • RAFOM members remembered Charlie Wilson, who was a founder of RAFOM in 1999.  Mr. Wilson served for twelve years in the Texas legislature and for twenty-four years in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He was also an active and much loved member of the Rosslyn community.  He died on Feb. 10, 2010.
  • The neighborhood sign vote has selected the red sign over the gray sign by 20 votes to 18 votes.   The next meeting will discuss the locations for the signs.  Two signs are likely to be placed south of Rt. 50, and two signs north of Rt. 50.
  • A building proposal for 1900 Wilson Blvd. has entered the site plan review committee.  The site was in part the storied location of Dr. Dremo's and Bardo Rodeo. The proposed building is a five-story building with 188 rental units and ground-floor retail on the Wilson Blvd. side. 
  • Report on the RAFOM holiday party 
  • In mid-April, Arlington County will again be providing free trees to residents who request them.  Steve Campbell, a Rosslyn member of the Urban Forestry Commission, will again be the contact person for trees.
The next RAFOM meeting will be Apr. 20.  It will feature Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette.

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