COLUMBIA HEIGHTS WEST CIVIC ASSOCIATION (CHWCA)
MINUTES OF MARCH 30, 2015 MEETING
1. Call to Order. Krysta Jones, CHWCA Vice President, called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm. There were 13 attendees. See attached sign in sheet.
2. Arlington County Facilities Study. Sarah McKinley, a participant in the study (not a committee member – ** see membership list below), gave an overview of the study to date. Highlights of her presentation include: single family homes (which are 25% of Arlington’s housing stock), with an increasing number of multifamilies living in them, are contributing to projections for the need for a new school every decade; this has future budget implications; how to best use open space in the future given its finite availability; 8,000 jobs lost in Arlington, especially with military closures; currently is a 20% commercial vacancy rate which impacts tax revenues and requires citizens to pay more; and Arlington County is discussing changing zoning policy in order to create economic diversity throughout the county. Regarding the latter point, accessory dwellings is one possible means of increasing geographic distribution of affordable housing throughout Arlington county, particularly in north Arlington where single family homes dominate. Another possible means is by building Eastern style duplex/triplex housing which melds affordable units in mixed income housing. Sarah provided her notes of community facilities study meetings for 2/11, 2/25, 3/11 and 3/25 (copies attached). The next facility committee meeting is scheduled for April 8 at Wakefield High School, 7-10 pm. Futher meetings will be held on April 22 (Wakefield), May 13 (Washington Lee High School) and May 20 (place to be determined). Meeting details and additional information are available at - http://commissions.arlingtonva.us/events/community-facilities-study-committee-meeting
3. Third District Police Team. Captain Stuart Ellison reported that the crime rate in Arlington is down overall. He noted an increase in fraud (scams) at the west end of Columbia Pike targeting the elderly, non-English speaking population, and cautioned against responding to telephone or email requests without verifying information first. He reported graffiti problems at the Greenbrier Apartments and in one of the Popeye Restaurant bathrooms at Pike Plaza. Arrests related to loitering and inebriation have been made at Pike Plaza and the police continue to monitor the situation there. Four officers work on the Third District Police Team. He urged residents to telephone police of any suspicious activity. He introduced Sgt. Damon Washington who works closely with him. Sgt. Washington spoke about an upcoming event slated for July 8 at Kenmore Middle School which will provide an opportunity for residents to meet the police while enjoying fun activities. A flyer will be provided later. Attendees spoke to concerns related to Tyrol Hill Park loitering and need for constant monitoring; security concerns at the Pike Plaza; and the disconnect with the police and community regarding the need to open up Arlington Mill Drive behind the Arlington Mill Community Center (AMCC) in cases of emergencies. Sgt. Washington will follow up on the latter item.
Acting Police Chief Farr then addressed attendees. He noted that Arlington County’s new Economic Development Director, Victor Hoskins, will be working on bringing new business to Arlington to reduce the commercial vacancy rate. He also noted that the police are not just guardians of enforcing the law but also want to engage with the community. He noted that the police department will have no increases in staff.
4. Name Change of Columbia Heights West Civic Association. A survey was sent out to the CHW neighborhood listserves with proposed name changes. A change in name was suggested to distinguish our neighborhood from the Columbia Heights Civic Association at the east end of the Pike. Names included on the survey were: Arlington Crest; Arlington Mill; Arlington Mill Heights; Arlington Mill Woods; Carlcroft; Carlin Crest; Carlin Heights; Custis Mill Heights; and Custis Woods. Additional names suggested at the meeting were: Tyroll Hills; Greenbrier Heights; and Arlington Mill Crest. The latter were not included in the original survey so were not discussed further. There was a voting tie between Arlington Mill and Arlington Mill Heights. It was pointed out that there is already an Arlington Heights Civic Association. Stephen Finafrock made a motion to change the name of Columbia Heights West Civic Association to Arlington Mill Civic Association. Linda LeDuc seconded the motion. A majority voted affirmatively. (Note: further action is required before the civic association name can be officially changed. This includes going through the Civic Federation and then informing Arlington County Clerk Hope Halleck, in order that the county can make changes to its records.)
Note: The survey also addressed desired retail for CHW and preferred business building
appearance; capital bikeshare and AMCC farmers market. These results were not discussed.
5. Columbia Hills Affordable Housing Project in Columbia Forest. Columbia Forest is adjacent to Columbia Heights West. Ben Arthur, CHWCA’s point person on affordable housing, reviewed the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s (VHDA) requirements for non-profit affordable housing developers who apply for 5% and 9% tax credits. He noted that there will be a one week comment period beginning May 5, 2015 about the Columbia Hills project. APAH, the developer, will be given an opportunity to reply to any comments. VHDA will vote on submitted applications on May 29 and then review in June for final approval and award. Ben suggested that the form base code needs to be changed related to zoning. Also a comment was made about the disagreement with the county proposal to reduce the number of parking spaces in affordable housing projects because this exacerbates the lack of parking within neighborhoods.
6. Civic Engagement. There was not enough time to discuss this topic.
7. Other: Takis Karontonis, Executive Director, CPRO, on the agenda, was unable to attend due to illness. He will provide information about the opening of the AMCC farmers market, which will be distributed to the listserve.
8. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned about 9:10 pm. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, 7:00 PM, AMCC, Room 527.
1. CHWCA March 20, 2015 Meeting Sign In Sheet
2. Sarah McKinley Community Facilities Study Meeting Notes
John Milliken, Chair
Members. Christer Ahl; Tyra Baker; Hans Bauman; Andi Cullins; Sal D’Itri; Carolina Espinal; Moira Forbes; Greg Greeley’ Saundra Green; Alan Howze; Kelly King; Kathleen McSweeney; Bryant Monroe; Kirit Mookerjee; Lynn Pollock; Katharine Roche; Jason Rylander; Toby Smith; Jackie Snelling; Ann Steen; Tannia Talento; and Gabriela Uro
Columbia Heights West Civic Association (CHWCA) Meeting
Minutes – January 17, 2012
I. AHC Inc. attended the CHWCA meeting to present their proposed affordable housing project to redevelop the Shell gas station site (at the corner of Columbia Pike and South Greenbrier), combined with an adjacent piece of property which AHC owns, into a 6-story apartment building with ground floor retail on Columbia Pike. The proposed project is located in front of Harvey Hall, another affordable housing project which AHC owns and operates. A copy of their presentation and additional project details are available at the links below. Arlington County housing and planning staff were also present to respond to questions from the community.
II. Briefly, the proposed project will include 83 units (15 one-bedrooms at 600-700 sq. ft.) and 68 two-bedrooms at 900-1,000 sq. ft.); 19 units will be affordable at 50% Area Median Income (AMI) and 64 at 60% AMI; retail space is estimated at 6,700 sq. ft.; be energy efficient; include an exercise room; have underground parking (93-94 spaces) accessible via a back alley; include an interior courtyard; include street front landscaping; and conform to the Columbia Pike Form Based Code.
III. After the presentation the floor was opened to Q&As and addressed the following:
a. AHC Management will likely utilize the retail space. However, AHC is open to other uses of the space such as a mini-mart to provide services to the nearby residents. AHC did note that it may be difficult to attract businesses due to the economy and limited retail space.
b. It will be the seller’s (of Shell site) responsibility to clean and remove the current building, equipment, etc. and complete an environmental clean up of the site before AHC takes over. Per AHC, the State of Virginia oversees the environmental clean-up and certifies that it is done correctly. It was not clear whether Arlington County receives a copy of this certification.
c. The piece that AHC currently owns is a steep grade, part of which will be dug out for the new building. The remaining hill will be shored up to prevent erosion. The cleared area around the ground floor units will be sufficient to ensure light into those units.
d. Concerns were voiced about the timing of the traffic light at the corner of S. Greenbrier and Columbia Pike noting that “Typically it takes two light cycles to get past..”
i. CHWCA will follow up with Arlington County’s Transportation Traffic Signals division on the timing of the traffic light.
2/20 - UPDATE:
Columbia Pike corridor's signals are being optimized next month, so the timing will be changing a bit at that point. That may resolve the issue at S. Greenbrier and CP.
Feed back from County's Site Plan Engineer :
e. Concerns were expressed on the likelihood of parking spilling over into the neighborhood. This project is adding new units to the neighborhood, where parking is already an issue. AHC noted that several new public parking spaces on Columbia Pike will be added in front of the new building and may be metered.
i. CHWCA to follow up with Transportation’s Parking division to inquire about possible solutions to neighborhood parking issues.
ii. AHC Inc. noted that it is common for their properties to have their parking spaces underutilized. AHC noted that County parking space requirements are 1 1/8 space per apartment unit and 1 space per 1,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
f. Concerns were raised about the loss of the current park at Harvey Hall. AHC indicated they planned to relocate the park to another part of the Harvey Hall site. The park will be comparable to what exists today.
i. A resident of Harvey Hall said that residents do not use the park. Another attendee noted that people who do not reside at Harvey Hall use the park and this has created some security issues. AHC was apparently unaware of this and will look into it.
g. County staff stated that this project qualifies for Form Based Code (FBC) administrative approval as a by-right project as the site area of the project does not exceed 40,000 sq. ft. and meets the specifications. The project still must go through the appropriate commissions and other review requirements as part of the project approval process prior to County Board vote. County staff noted that community concerns can be raised at these various meetings.
h. AHC is requesting $6 million from the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) which will need to go before the Housing Commission and the County Board for approval. The financing (tax credits and AHIF) for six stories require committed affordable units at 50% to 60% AMI (area medium income).
i. There was discussion around the neighborhood's preference for a mixed-income project (a mix of affordable and some market rate (80% +)). AHC explored the possibility of a 9 story unit apartment with mixed income. The FBC limits building heights to 6 stories. There was an exception made for the ten story 5500 Columbia Pike directly across the street from AHC’s proposed project because it was built next to the 10 story Carlyle condominium. A 9 story building would equate visually from the Pike to the height of Harvey Hall, which is located on an incline above and behind the proposed project. Another consideration was that the current economic situation would not make market rate units feasible at this time.
j. There was some discussion as to whether approving the AHC project would set a precedent to include affordable housing under the FBC, which is currently not required. CPRO stated that not including affordable housing was done to jump start redevelopment on the Pike but it is possible that affordable housing projects could be done in the future under the FBC. County staff said that approving the AHC affordable housing project on the Pike will not set a precedent for including such in future FBC projects.
k. After the presentation, AHC and County staff left the room while attendees discussed whether to vote on the project. The consensus was that (1) a vote yea or nay would have no effect on a by-right project, (2) while the attendees do not oppose the concept of affordable housing there already exists 645 Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) in CHW with another 122 in the upcoming Arlington Mill Residences (total 767) and AHC’s 83 units (850 total), and (3) the CHW neighborhood recommends that Arlington County spread affordable housing elsewhere in the county and not concentrate it in one neighborhood or only along the Columbia Pike corridor. This is becoming an increasing concern of Pike residents and has been discussed at the Pike Land Use and Housing meetings.
l. The CHWCA will send a letter to the County Board regarding community concerns raised regarding this project. All CHW residents are invited to attend the various scheduled meetings to present their views on this project.
January/February 2012 Public Meetings
Housing Commission Subcommittee Bricks and Mortar (no public comment)
o TO BE RESCHEDULED FOR LATE FEBRUARY, Courthouse Plaza
Community Development Citizen Advisory Committee (no public comment)
o February 1, 6:30pm, 311, Courthouse Plaza
o March 1, 7pm, Cherry and Dogwood Room, Courthouse Plaza
Form Based Code Advisory Working Group (AWG
o February 7, 7pm, Walter Reed Community Center
o March 10, 8:30am, County Board Room, Courthouse Plaza