Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/15/2020
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
Scott thanked Amy Miller for stepping up as the new editor of the AHCA newsletter.
AHCA has a new committee, AHCA Committee on Housing Chair Matthew Hall and Vice Chair Christina Schulz.
Dave Phillips and Jack Spilsbury of the Development/Zoning Committee reported that they are reaching out to the Highland Hotel owner so they can stay abreast of issues that may arise from the new project, and following the three development projects between Wilson Blvd, Wash Blvd, & 10th St North. There will be a meeting of the County Board regarding density and heights. If anyone has any interest, please contact them. The West Clarendon project along Wilson Blvd and 10th St. involves the development of new apartments and hotels; they want to guard against glass, concrete and set back. The presentation we had scheduled today for part of this redevelopment was cancelled.
Greg Morse CoChair of our Schools Committee reported that there has been talk of swapping elementary schools and most recently have come to find that more seats are needed in the Rosslyn and Clarendon corridor.
Brent Burris Chair of the Playground & Parks Subcommittee reported that there has been a resolution between the Fire Department and the city planners regarding the North Oakland St. water gardens being proposed. This is being presented to the residents right now.
Brooke Alexander Chair of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee reported that we are still losing our tree canopy primarily because of builders knocking down small houses and building larger houses in their place. We have been able to take advantage of the Tree Canopy Fund and have applied for 31 trees to be planted in Spring of 2020. Applicants should hear if they have been accepted for the program soon. This past Fall we were about to get 13 trees planted from this fund. She also looked into if the three trees that were removed on the North Monroe St. side of the building will be replaced. They are slated to have trees planted here. If anyone has any interest, please let her know.
Betsey Lyon our Listserv Moderator has swapped our list serve to the Groups.io system. There have been a number of questions about how this works, and she has been sending out guidance.
Scott mentioned that a number of our residents have received very high water utility bills this past month—some 114% higher, or more. Betsy Taylor is leading the AHCA data effort and has collected info from 71 households so far. If your bill was unusually high, please let her know. Scott had suggested that residents should hire a plumber to check their meters, with the water turned off, to determine if there is a leak. So far 12 residents have done this and have reported no leak. Two other nearby civic associations have reported this problem as well. Some communities have put in Wifi meters at no cost to help monitor and track what they are being billed for.
Arlington County Police Officers Keen and Ryan and Corporal Lennon came by for a visit. 98% of auto break-ins are done to unlocked cars. Suspects walk by a car and just check the door handle of a car to see if it is open. If the car is unlocked, they take advantage. From Oct 1 thru Dec 31 only 7 car break-ins were reported in Ashton Heights and 4 in Lyon Park. There has only been one break-in reported where a window was broken to a locked car, where a purse was left in plain view on the seat. Rumors have been flying that equipment is being used to unlock cars, which is called “cloning”. This is not true. The equipment needed has never been found on any suspects and it would take too long for this process to work. The process can take 45 – 60 minutes. They are encouraging everyone to do the 9 PM Routine. Every night at 9 pm every evening, make sure your house, garage and car are secure. Take the time to do this every night.
If you find that someone has gone through your car and taken nothing or anything, please report it on-line. If you cannot figure out how to report it on-line, call the non emergency number and a police officer will come over to your home to show you how to do this. They want these reports submitted so they will really know the extent of the problem. For the 300,000 residents of Arlington County there are only 18 police officers on duty at a time. Currently there still is a shortage of police staff. Ideally we need 400 police officers to be fully staffed; right now we only have approximately 330 police officers working.
Matt De Ferranti the newest County Board Member came to dialogue with our residents about county board issues. He pointed out that everyone should complete the census starting on April 1, 2020. He grew up in McLean, is a lawyer, practiced in TX, and was an advocate for Native American kids and supported Feed America.
The two issues he ran on were affordable housing and education. A lot of people who work in Arlington cannot afford to live here and feel more should be done to support affordable housing. Virginia law does not allow for rent control nor inclusionary zoning. Also 29% of the students in Arlington schools are not affluent and require food assistance.
He talked about a goal for the county of 100% renewable energy and getting our carbon footprint to 0. The fact we opened 5 new schools this year reflects a growth factor that we need to continue to deal with.
Since small houses in Arlington are being replaced by larger homes, not only does this drive the cost of housing up, it also is reducing the size of our county tree canopy. The Board needs to amp up the education of the county regarding the best management practices to better support our tree canopy and our environment. Having more trees will also help with storm water absorption, since we are now having more severe storms and flooding due to climate change.
This year the county will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of when Arlington split from the city of Alexandria.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:58 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs.
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, January 19, 2020
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:32 pm.
Scott announced that this is the last Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting of 2019.
Christina Schultz of our Crime and Safety Committee reported that according to Arlington County Police the level of gang activity in Arlington has gone down. They feel the use of school resource officers has helped with this decline. She is going to look into if the Ring Doorbells may be a way of sharing information about suspicious activity in our neighborhood.
Jim O’Brien the Vice President for Membership is willing to take our membership dues! He will report on the status of our membership next month.
Jim Richardson the Vice President for Programs mentioned that in January our speaker will be Arlington County Board Member Matt de Ferranti. In February it will be the co-owner and Editor of Arlington Magazine Greg Hamilton.
Brent Burris of our Playground and Parks Subcommittee mentioned that the status of what is happening with the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee is about the same. With respect to the water garden being proposed at the North Oakland St. and Pershing Dr. intersection – apparently it has stalled over disagreements at the county level over the proper width for the street.
Scott thanked Carmen Kosik our Advertising Representative for her diligent work getting advertisements for our newsletter and made a plea for help in finding a new newsletter editor.
Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Committee reported that 16 new trees were planted in Ashton Heights this past week funded by the Arlington County Tree Canopy Program and planted by the county. She is now looking for applications from anyone who would like to get a tree from this program this coming Spring. She will be happy to meet with you to discuss possible locations for this tree and to help with your application. She will be coordinating this process with the county. The deadline to submit your request to her is November 30, 2019. She handed out a list of available types of trees.
A question from the floor regarding the trees that were taken down next to the Art Center on Monroe Street. Are there plans to replace them? Brooke mentioned that in the Sector Plan includes plans to widen the sidewalk at that location, which will not leave room for trees at this same place. She will look into it further.
Another question from the floor about what is happening at Clay Park off of Highland St. The park had been fenced off and most of the trees and all of the equipment was pulled up. Why were we not notified of this? Brooke will look into this also.
Patrick Lueb of our Transportation Committee mentioned the residents on North Kenmore St. have put together a petition with 20 signatures requesting traffic calming measures be installed along their street. Apparently Kenmore is the latest cut thru to get to Wilson Blvd/Pershing Dr. Speed bumps may or may not still be used for traffic calming and stop signs are not being used for such efforts. A suggestion from the floor to have a traffic circle installed. They would like more police presence to study the situation. Our police, the last year or two, has had a major staff shortage, which has been helped lately with a number of new hires coming on board this past year.
During our discussion of this issue, it was mentioned that the Google App “Waze” apparently offers North Kenmore Street as a way to get through the neighborhood. Some thought to petition “Waze” and Google to stop this practice.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) owns Route 50 and has been focusing on traffic turning left into Ashton Heights. They are looking into input from residents for possible solutions in early 2020 on their website. Patrick will try to get representatives from the county and VDOT to come to one of our meetings before the deadline for our input for this problem.
Jack Spilsbury of our Development and Zoning Committee mentioned that there are a couple of developers working up possible projects in some of the Clarendon area that is to be redeveloped. One is a hotel proposal for the Silver Diner and Beer Lot along with a residential rental project in one of the nearby spaces. He hopes to get one of these developers to come to our January meeting to share what they are planning.
Jack and Ken Matzkin have been taking the initiative and reaching out to owners to some of these properties (Wells Fargo Bank, the Verizon site and Mr. Wash) being developed and keeping in touch, so we can stay on top of what may be happening to these properties.
The owner of The Highlander Hotel on Wilson has an agreement with CVS to allow a store to be built on this site. They are not entertaining options from anyone else right now. There will be a proposal from CVS to the county soon. Most likely the CVS currently on Wilson will be closed and will reopen on the Highlander Hotel site, which will allow more parking.
A question from the floor about cleaning up the Dominion Substation in Clarendon, which seemed unlikely.
Jim Feaster who is part of the Arlington Commission on Aging mentioned that their focus is on how Arlington can be more age friendly and able to provide more resources to residents aging in place.
Mark Blacknell mentioned that he would like Arlington to find ways to attract younger Arlington County residents to AHCA meetings. He feels we need to work some strategies to attract younger residents.
Scott McPartlin with the Arlington County Parks and Recreation Office gave us a Mosaic Park Update. Mosaic Park started out as an idea back in the 1970s and in the 1990s the idea started to take shape. Now Phase One is under construction and will open in the 2nd quarter of 2020. The area for Phase Two remains, for now, a parking lot at Gold’s Gym. ACHA President Sklar asked everyone to give him a round of applause for his great work since the beginning of this project.
Brooke Alexander asked to see the list of trees and perennials being proposed for the Phase One site.
A question from the floor was asked about if members of the Parks and Recreation Office actively reach out to neighborhood civic associations, when any of their projects would impact some of these groups. Scott McPartlin himself tries to reach out to neighborhoods that would be impacted by his projects that he manages, and did not know why we were not contacted by the project manager for the Clay Park Project. He is happy to find out who the project manager is and will have them contact the members of our Playgrounds and Park Subcommittee.
Zack DesJardins a Bikeshare and Scootershare Planner for MetroBike is the Arlington County POC on Scooter Trial and Police on Enforcement. He gave a talk about the new county regulations for e-Scooters that the Arlington County Board just approved. The state law allows anyone 16 or older to use an e-Scooter; the user agreements for all the companies providing e-Scooters in Arlington requires users to be 18 years old. Parking corrals have been established on a number of county streets to encourage people to park e-Scooters at these locations, though e-Scooters can be parked all over. Concerns regarding no requirements for helmets to be worn and injuries, while operating these scooters were brought up from the floor. Supposedly approximately 78 crashes have been reported, but am unable to verify because most emergency rooms will not release injury reports to the public. DC e-scooter staff are trying to get injury information from emergency rooms.
The meeting was adjourned a bit after 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs.
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, November 23, 2019.
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
Scott mentioned that two potential newsletter editors have left, and the editor for the Lyon Park newsletter has stepped up to help us again. We need an editor for our newsletter! To be the editor one needs to have an IBM PC to work with the software, 85% of the format of the newsletter is set, with four articles left to be filled in. Once done the final newsletter will need to be emailed to the printer.
Brent Burris, our Open Spaces, Playgrounds and Parks Subcommittee Chair, was not here, but Scott mentioned there our concerns with outstanding temporary easements with county construction designs and what the latest is with Mosaic Park.
Jim Terpstra the AHCA Neighborhood Historian mentioned that our civic association will turn 100 years old in 2021. Now is a good time to start planning for this historical milestone. He is is gathering and reviewing the historical records of the Ashton Heights Civic Association and is putting them in order. Any neighbors who might have old AHCA newsletters/documents please share copies/originals with him. He will also be looking for someone to help scan his historical docs into electronic files. He will put a blurb in our newsletter.
Greg Morse the Schools Committee Co-chair mentioned that the County Board and School Board have created a joint working group to evaluate the Career Center site and to figure out how to accommodate an additional 700-800 seats at this location. Caroline Rogus and Polly Hall are AHCA reps on respective Arlington County Committees as AHCA will be keeping an eye on this. Also the revamping of the elementary school districts in Arlington County is seems to be heating up again with the School Board.
Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee brought two Red Bud whips to give away.
Scott mentioned that this year was going to be Scott’s 8th and final term as President, but since Julia Tanner has stepped down from as incoming shadowing President to assume the AHCA Presidency in May 2020, we now need another candidate to shadow for a year so as to step up to transition as President.
Gretchen Reinemeyer the Arlington Director of Elections and Registrar gave a talk about how Arlington is preparing for the 2019 Election. She showed a video about Election Security and took questions from the floor.
Presentation from P&H Investments re building design proposal for Joyce Motors Site at North 10th Street and North Irving Street location. This will include 240 rental apartments and 200 parking spaces in an underground garage, 3000 Sq ft Retail, with 7 – 10 street parking places, for what they call a “destination cafe” with outdoor seating. The facade of Joyce Motors will be included in the building facade including the white tiles and the pattern of the garage doors. The name of the building being proposed is The Joyce. At the south end of the building, along North 10th Street, the zoning allows for a height of 55 ft or 6 floors. The zoning allows at the north end of the building, closer to Wilson Blvd, a height of 110 ft or 11 floors. The alterations to the sector plan is the “taper line” of the building. Currently if the taper line is enforced, the building design would be too choppy along the roof line of the building. If the taper line were extended, the roof line of the building would be more gradual. This is the exception they are requesting to the Sector Plan. This proposal was being shared with us to get our input. We did not hear any major concerns from the floor, but there was a question about public accessibility to any green space on the site. This proposal will be shared with the county representatives in a few weeks. There is hope that construction can begin in about two years in 2022.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs.
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, October 20, 2019.
Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes 09/18/2019 Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm. Scott mentioned that this is going to be his 8th and final term as President. For the next year, Julia Tanner will be shadowing him and his duties, so she can step in as President at the end of his term in May 2020. He went over the entire list of civic association members who are serving on the Executive Committee, as Members-at-Large, List Serve Moderator, and all the various committees we have. He expressed appreciation for all their involvement and hard work supporting our community. He noted that Jim Richardson has rejoined the Executive Committee as the VP of Programs. Mark Blacknell is replacing Betsy Lyon as AHCA lead for the Civic Federation. Polly Hall will be the AHCA rep to the Career Center – Public Facilities Review Committee in consultation with the AHCA Schools Committee. Scott also mentioned that Kristine Babick attempted to pull together this month’s newsletter but was unable to complete it due to software problems. He thanked her for her efforts and noted that he was able to get Jeanette Wick, once again, to create our newsletter for this month. He is hoping to have a lead on someone who may be interested in taking this job over very soon. He also mentioned our members who work on our advertising and distribution support and distribution. He thanked everyone all for their hard work in getting these newsletters delivered and encouraged other members of our civic association to join in these efforts. David Phillips of our Development and Zoning Committee talked with us about a working group they have created with Lyon Park and Lyon Village Civic Association reps to establish a proactive dialogue with the county about the three Clarendon redevelopment proposals. They are (with some details still contingent):
The TCS proposal would include a hotel (height approx 110 ft) and an apartment complex of similar height located along Wilson Blvd from the Beer Lot to and including the north part of the Silver Diner lot. The Silver Diner lease is due to expire end of 2021. Ground breaking on the new project is due at the start of 2022 contingent on all plans and permits being approved.
The P&H Investment (Orr Partners) proposal. This project is smaller than that of TCS. It will cover part of the 10th St frontage from the Beer Lot up and including the south part of the Silver Diner site. The proposal is understood to be for an apartment complex of 225 units (height 110 ft) plus 3000 sq ft of retail. Joyce motors will close but its façade is planned to be somehow incorporated into the facade of the apartment complex. There is to be a new road (’10th road’) dividing the overall site West to East to facilitate vehicle access and/or create public space. The timeline is similar to or ahead of the TCS project.
Project on Wells Fargo site between Irving and Hudson. Akridge Ventures combined with Jefferson Apartment Group will be constructing an apartment complex on the Wells Fargo site. This is at an earlier stage of concept development – details awaited.
Scott suggested that the three civic associations pull together a Statement of Principles to be submitted to the county. Also it was mentioned that at our March meeting we will have a speaker to discuss the latest about this project and the Mercedes and Harris Teeter redevelopment sites. It was mentioned that the Firehouse on 10th Street may be going away. This is being looked into. The owner of the Highland Motor Inn won his case at the Supreme Court and it sounds like at this time, he has about 75% interested in putting a CVS at this site. Christina Schultz of the Crime and Safety Committee mentioned a new program that the Arlington County Police is proposing that Arlington County residents follow called the “9:00 PM Routine.” The idea is that a 9:00 pm every day, each resident should check and make sure their vehicles, sheds, garages and anything in their yards, that need be, are secured. October 2, 2019 is the next Coffee with a Cop at various Starbucks locations. The hours and locations can be found on the Arlington County Police Website. Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee spoke about two options residents have to get free trees: The county registration for a free tree (“whips”) is now closed and all of these trees are taken. The other program is the Tree Canopy Program from which our community is slated to receive 16 new trees (2” caliber) in October/November. Please let Brooke know if you are interested in having one of these trees planted in your yard. There has been a lot of concern expressed on our neighborhood list serve recently about how to get rid of mosquitos. The concern has been with neighbors who are having their yards sprayed and the impact it might have on neighbors and wildlife. Brooke handed out a draft announcement for a speaker (the Virginia Cooperative Extension in collaboration with the Master Gardners of Northern VA and the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists) who will talk about options to minimize mosquitos and ticks in our yards and the best methods to use to reduce them. This presentation will be for Ashton Heights and Lyon Park residents. Stay on the lookout for a date, time and location. Concern was expressed that builders/new home owners are removing well established trees indiscriminately. A suggestion from the floor was for our Civic Association to establish a letter to be sent to new home owners talking about the importance of trees and our tree canopy in our neighborhood. Brooke will work up a draft for us. A complement came from the floor about the list of Native Plant Sales in the area being included in this month’s newsletter. Brent Burris of our Playgrounds and Parks Subcommittee gave us an update about the latest activities with our local parks. Mosaic Park on schedule – there will be a presentation about this project at our Nov meeting. Oakland Park update is in progress. The removal of the three trees at the Art Center was approved by an arborist. Brooke Alexander will look into getting replacements. The Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the water garden at the intersection of North Oakland Street and Pershing Dr. is on hold due to neighbor objections. Comment from the floor about the county Storm Water Retention Site. If you would like your property assessed for this you can contact them to get an assessment. It is free. Nancy Van Dorn, the Chair of the Arlington County School Board spoke about how our county schools are doing. Below is the 2019-20 School Board Action Plan she presented. go.boarddocs.com A concern from the floor about teachers having enough training regarding issues around LGBTQ students. Nancy Can Dorn assured us that teachers were getting plenty of training. This is a new era of taking a holistic approach to make sure each student is included and that each student succeeds. Another concern about lockdown practices and impact on stress levels of students and parents. The want a balance between schools being welcoming and secure. Come to find not all parents have appropriate identification in order to get into schools easily, they are looking into how to work with these parents. Ken Matzkin – Burden of Increasing Taxes and Rent on Small Businesses Ken provided his detailed description of why retail locations tend to stand empty for extended periods. Vagaries in taxation rates, expectations of mortgagers, and opacities in the commercial marketplace combine to keeping retail rents high and not responding to reductions in demand. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, September 23, 2019.
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:35 pm.
Tom Eversole of Shepherd’s Center of McLean, Arlington and Falls Church – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which provides rides, limited handyman services and visits for elderly people who wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible. It has been around since 2006. There are 7 centers in northern Virginia and 59 centers in the country. The minimum age to participate is 55 years old and the average age of the volunteers are 79. Anyone who applies must be interviewed by a team and must be able to walk out of their home on their own and be able to talk. Riders pay nothing for the service and the organization survives on donations. They are looking for driver and handyman volunteers and, of course, donations.
Representatives from Arlington County Police Officers Estor and Owens – Discussed the Arlington Restaurant Initiative which is a voluntary accreditation program for all Arlington County restaurants that hold a VA ABC license. In the Clarendon and Ballston areas, crowds on Fridays and Saturday evenings had started to grow to 4,500 to 6,500 people, back in 2015. This also brought problems with public drunkedness, fighting and nearby neighborhood disturbances. Some of the problems they found were due to a lack of formal training for management and staff on how to deal with these problems, lack of cohesive strategies to deal with these problems and overcrowding and violation of occupancy limits. For those restaurants willing to participate in this initiative, training is provided on how to deal with potential problems to better empower the restaurant owners and staff. This includes fake ID awareness training (over the last two years approximately 2000 ids were confiscated), sharing ACPD, WRAP and Lyft SoberRide resources, and Bar Bystander Program training to reduce sexual and domestic assaults related to alcohol. This has been empowering restaurant owners and staff to better deal with problems that arise, so police do not have to be utilized as much. Back in 2015 there had to be 20 officers in Clarendon and the Ballston Quarter area. Now these areas only need about 9 police staff for most Fridays and Saturdays. After each weekend, Arlington County Police have a meeting with all accredited businesses to go over any problems or concerns. This has been very helpful for both restaurant owners and our police. Currently there are 30 restaurants accredited by this initiative and they hope more will continue to join. For any new establishment requesting an VA ABC license, they are being contacted by Arlington County Police to participate. Officer Brien is the Restaurant Liaison Specialist (703) 228-7423. Scott Sklar expressed our appreciation to the Arlington County Police and for this new program.
Jim Richardson ran our AHCA Elections for this year. He announced that the officers were running for their current positions. He opened the floor for nominations. There were no nominations from the floor. Sklar advised that this was his last year as serving as President, and that as he e-mailed the membership on the AHCA listserve, Julia Tanner will be shadow President this year, so she would be the candidate for next year, and that he hoped this would set a precedent on future leadership transition for AHCA.
The results were:
President – Scott Sklar (for one more year)
Vice President for Membership – Jim O’Brien
Vice President for Programs – Vacant
Treasurer – Doug Williams
Secretary – Jodie Flakowicz
Our At-Large Appointees, will continue to serve. They are: Cole Deines, Jim Feaster. Patrick Lueb, and nKen Matzkin.
Scott Sklar hopes to have a candidate for the Vice President for Programs by the end of the Summer.
On a motion duly made & seconded, the positions were approved and installed, beginning June 1, 2019, and ending May 31, 2020.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:30 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs.
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, May 18, 2019.
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
Representatives from Arlington County Police Officers Busser and Levy – Crimes stats for this past quarter between January 1 thru April 1 reflect approximately 85 offenses including 11 drunk and disorderly, 2 embezzlements, 6 frauds, 2 ID thefts, 18 larcenies and 1 sexual offense. All primarily in the Ballston area.
April 27, 2019 will be Drug Take Back Day for the County. Prescription drugs can be dropped off at any fire station in the county.
Scooters – a situation where the technology outpaced the legislation. At this time there are no official laws in place prescribing their use. The County Board would like input from our residents pro and con through May and June. County Manager Mark Schwartz mentioned that it is expected that this period for input will be extended.
Police staffing has improved. The largest class ever, of 26, just graduated. We still have about 25 more slots to fill.
Scott Sklar reported that elections for our Civic Association will be held at our May meeting. All but one slot will be returning. Anyone can run for office who is current in AHCA Membership dues. Scott Sklar will step down next year as President. He placed in motion the creation of a shadow president for this term by asking the current AHCA VP for Programs, Julia Tanner to shadow him for this year, since she is then willing to step up to serve as President the following year. Therefore, AHCA is looking for someone to step up to serve as our new Vice President of Programs. This is not to discourage anyone else from also running as President, if they so desire or any other AHCA office or at-large position.
Various AHCA Committee reports:
AHCA Neighborhood Historian, Jim Terpstra is gathering the historical records of the Ashton Heights Civic Association. Any neighbors who might have old AHCA newsletters/documents please share copies/originals with him. He will also be looking for someone to help scan his historical docs into electronic files.
Transportation Committee, Patrick Lueb passed out final copies of the Ashton Heights Transportation and Parking Principles. It was thought that we voted to approve these principles at last month’s meeting, although we had no “objections” our meeting minutes did not reflect a final vote. Therefore, AHCA President put out a vote request on the listserve.
Brook Alexander was asking to include some additional concerns and items in these principles. She was asked to bring these up for further review and discussion and if agreed to, might be included at a later time. AHCA President directed the AHCA Transportation Committee to set up a working group to forge an AHCA consensus on the Arlington County Residential Parking Program and report back to the Ex Comm, and eventually the membership.
Mark Schwartz Arlington County Manager covered a number of items. The County Board would reveal the final budget tomorrow. Schools enrollment are increasing by approx 1000 kids annually, which will be hard to contain. Police have been hard to recruit because of pay rates and not being able to afford to live in the county. Recently the police got a pay increase, which has helped. We just graduated the largest class of new police staff, which should help cut in half our vacancies. The supply of houses for sale in our area has dropped, some speculate that more residents are opting to “age in place”. Housing for the middle class workforce is shrinking. He thinks a solution to our affordable housing concerns must be a regional solution, across our counties. With respect to the Staples Site proposal by Kitchen United, the size of the site may be difficult to handle the traffic for the delivery service and parking. Currently the county office vacancy rate is approximately 17.2%. It is estimated that with Amazon coming into the area that this rate could go down 2-3 percentage points.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs.
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, April 22, 2019.
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm, with a full schedule. Various AHCA Committee reports:
Transportation Committee, Patrick Lueb was not here, but Scott shared draft copies of the Ashton Heights Transportation and Parking Principles and went through to solicit comments. Please review and email any comments to Patrick. We will vote on this document at next month’s meeting.
AHCA Neighborhood Historian, Jim Terpstra is gathering the historical records of the Ashton Heights Civic Association. Any neighbors who might have old AHCA documents please let him know. Right now he is reviewing documentation that he has and what he can find at the Central Library.
Daniel Berkland the Editor of our Newsletter is stepping down as of the September 2019 newsletter. Kristine Babick is stepping up to take over this role in September 2019.
Schools Committee, Gregory Morse reported that there has been some confusion with what the school board has been up to with respect to the new high school plans. There has been some talk of using the space occupied by the Columbia Pike Library, which he is looking into.
Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee, Brooke Alexander – we have applied for and will receive 15 new native trees for the neighborhood.
Mosaic Park – concerns raised about the budget for the park being cut, because the bids came in too high. The funds for the native trees and plants was reduced because of this. We are keeping an eye on this.
The new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd. has now been installed.
Rita O’Brien announced that Culpeper Gardens will be having their 50th Anniversary Gala at the Unitarian Church on June 8, 2019.
Development Committee, Jack Spilsbery – The hotel proposal for the Staples site seems to be dead. Our Development Committee attended a presentation about a new proposal from Kitchens United using the existing foot print. It has a millennial focus, which will have 10 – 11 modular kitchens to be used by existing restaurants to expand their services or for test kitchens for possible new food markets. This is primarily aimed for delivery or pick up service with some seating. This project will need permission from the county for pick up service. The pick up entrance will be on Wilson Blvd. and there will be twenty-two parking spaces in the parking lot. Kitchens United has three other locations in the country. At peak times at these other locations, there can be 120 – 160 orders an hour. Concerns expressed by attendees of our meeting were about additional traffic flow, parking, signage and lighting, times for trash and recycling pick up. The AHCA Development Committee and neighborhood group, led by AHCA ExCom member Cole Deines will be reviewing the proposal.
The proposal for this site will be going to the County Board on 4/27/2019. Our Development Committee needs any questions/concerns about this action emailed to them soonest.
Brooke Alexander asked the committee to also check out the land use plan for a “greenway” designation for an area of land running from Irving to Oakland or Oxford. She wants to make sure that this new proposal does not impact on this “greenway” designation in the zoning.
Member of the County Board, Libby Garvey – Amazon coming to Arlington is a good thing. The future of our economic region, which stretches from Richmond to Baltimore is good. We are 3rd in the U.S. and 7th in the world. Our office vacancy rate is currently 17.2%. With Amazon moving in we will benefit from incremental increase of taxes from them. We will also be getting $75 million from the state for affordable housing and funding from the state for transportation.
Presentation about the Harris Teeter Redevelopment on Glebe Road – Matt Allman Venable Design with Architect Jan Makovnik, seeking any community input, and some suggestions were bike stand near entrance, and wider parking spaces for easy access to cars with packages.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:10 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. A
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, March 26, 2019.
A. The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) supports retention, expansion and resident education on the benefits of our tree canopy, with a focus on replacement and expansion and utilization of native trees.
Ashton Heights’ tree canopy declined from 48.3% in 2008 to 40% in 2016 (the most recent survey). It is apparent that this decline has continued since 2016, but it has not yet documented or quantified. Much of the decline is from re-development within the neighborhood. As individual lots are redeveloped with larger homes, or expansions, our trees are removed one lot at a time.
In order to maintain our neighborhood tree canopy, we must make a concerted effort to retain our large trees, and replant them. Our large trees are 100+ years old. It will take 100+ years to replace each of them. See the benefits provided by our urban forest at NOTE(1).
See NOTE (2) for a county wide assessment of Arlington’s tree canopy, which also quantifies the loss in Ashton Heights. Within this document, find a description of tree benefits including clean air, stormwater interception and energy savings. The ecological advantages of planting native plants are documented in www.plantnovanatives.org and Bringing Nature Home: How you can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy. 2014.
See NOTE(1) for some tips for taking care of our valuable, mature trees.
B. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the County programs which supply free trees to property owners
Tree Canopy Fund Program.This County grant program provides trees on private property. Grant recipients are provided a free tree, and each tree is also planted for free. The trees are 1½” caliper trees that generally are 6-8 feet tall. Once or twice a year, 8-10 different native canopy trees are made available. The number of trees is a function of the program’s funding. Priority is given for county priorities. Application is required; not all applications are accepted.
Also, the Tree Canopy Fund Program can fund maintenance of County Champion trees which are on private property. See NOTE (3) below.
The current Ashton Heights Tree Canopy and Native Species coordinator, Brooke Alexander, is the neighborhood coordinator for the Tree Canopy Fund. Contact Brooke at email@example.com to participate in the program. Brooke coordinates the applications, the plantings, and the 2 year oversight. The watering (which is required for 2 years) is on you! Brooke is a member of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN); in having oversight by an ARMN member, priority is given to Ashton Heights’ applicants who go through Ashton Heights. Individuals are also allowed to apply, separately from Ashton Heights.
2. Tree Distribution program.This free annual County tree distribution allows residents one tree per residential property per year. A variety of native tree species are available each fall. The available trees are generally termed ‘whips’ in the nursery trade and are in two gallon containers; they range from 2-4 feet in height. There are a finite number of trees made available each year so for the most choice, sign up early.
This sign up is online. You pick up the tree and you plant it. Generally, the sign up is early Sept and the pick-up is in late October. For more information, see Tree Distribution Program under NOTE (5) below.
Brooke Alexander, Ashton Heights Tree Canopy and Native Species coordinator, is available to consult on tree choices with the County Tree Distribution Program and individual homeowner plantings. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
C. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the planting of native shrubs and groundcovers.
D. Ashton Heights Civic Association supports the retention of native trees, shrubs and groundcovers within the county, including the continuing stewardship of Arlington’s parks and natural areas.
E. Ashton Heights Civic Association discourages the planting of non-native invasive species, and encourages replacement of non-native invasive plants with native plants.
Note from Arlington’s Nature Resources Manager: “While up to 40% of the plants found in a typical urban environment are non-native species, a relatively small number of these “alien” plants are known to represent an ecological threat to the natural environment (parks, woodlands, and backyards). Known as “invasive species”, these non-natives will spread from urban plantings into natural areas, eliminate native species, alter natural plant communities, and degrade the environment.”
See the list of non-native invasive species in Arlington County at NOTE (6). These species are prohibited from use in County projects. Native plant alternatives for Arlington are documented at www.plantnovanatives.org.
F. Ashton Heights Civic Association has coordinated with Dominion Energy regarding tree trimming along the utility right-of-way. See NOTE(7) below for background
NOTE (1).Arlington Trees Make a Difference! Our Urban Forest’s Measurable Benefits. Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. Vincent Verweij, Acting Urban Forest Manager. Undated. See at:
Here are some tips for taking care of our valuable mature trees. (from Arlington County Champion Trees 2007-2008 under NOTE(3)).
Watering. In dry periods, even mature trees need to be watered. A thorough soaking once a week is much better than frequent, but light applications of water.
Invasive Plants. Keep English ivy and other invasive plants away from trees. (see more info on invasive plants at NOTE(6).)
Pruning. Trees need their branches and leaves, and should be pruned only for good reason. When mature trees require pruning, hire a tree care firm with a certified arborist to do the work. Note that responsible tree crews use ropes to lift themselves up into a tree; they never use spikes to climb living trees.
Avoid topping. Topping cuts off large branches and leaves stubs. It is an extreme form of pruning that severely damages trees, making them vulnerable to insects and disease. Trees should not be topped. When it is necessary to limit the height or spread of a tree because it is close to buildings or utility lines, there are alternatives to topping. Engage an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist, or a Consulting Arborist (American Society of Consulting Arborists) to help you best support your tree. A list of ISA Certified Arborists can be found at www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist. Consulting arborists can be found at www.asca-consultants.org
NOTE(2).Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. Arlington County, Virginia. December 2017. Prepared for Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. By Davey Resource Group. See at:
Arlington has identified and registered its most Notable trees. As of 2/2019, since the program start in 1987, 332 trees have been named in the county. More information on these Notable trees and the application form for identifying your tree as Notable is here:
See a map of Arlington’s Champion, Notable and Specimen trees!
As of February 2019, there are 17 privately owned and 9 publicly owned Specimen trees that have been nominated by the County Board. Specimen trees are protected from removal or injury through the County’s Tree Preservation Ordinance. See more information on these Specimen trees and the application form for identifying your tree as Specimen here:
NOTE(6).Document identifying non-native trees, shrubs, and ground covers that are invasive in Arlington County, from Arlington’s Natural Resource Manager, 11/13/2018.
NON-NATIVE INVASIVE PLANTS OF ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA (Version 10-14-11)
While up to 40% of the plants found in a typical urban environment are non-native species, a relatively small number of these “alien” plants are known to represent an ecological threat to the natural environment (parks, woodlands, and backyards). Known as “invasive species”, these non-natives will spread from urban plantings into natural areas, eliminate native species, alter natural plant communities, and degrade the environment. The following plants have been documented as invasive species in Arlington. Known invasive plant species should not be planted as part of any Arlington County sponsored project. This list will be periodically reviewed by the Invasive Plant Coordinator (PRCR) and updated by Version (date) (sic).
Invasive Plant Species List
Cherry, Weeping (Higan)
Clematis, Sweet Autumn
Day Lily, Common
Golden Rain Tree
Koelrenteria paniculata *
Liriope graminifolia **
Persicaria perfoliata (Poly.
Rose of Sharon
Tree of Heaven
Viburnum plicatum var.
* Do not plant in close proximity to forested areas or woodland edges.
** Plant only in confined garden beds and avoid park entryways or woodland edges
Please note that the plants listed above are known to be invasive locally. Additional plant species may be documented as invasive in other locales or represent potential invasive species. A number of public agencies, universities, and conservation non-profits are currently documenting and tracking the spread of non-native invasive species across the country. As field research continues, the number of identified invasive species will increase. In order to ensure that the use of invasive species is avoided, a number of data sources are available for vetting purposes. The following PDF files and internet links are considered reliable information resources:
Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (DCR) www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/documents/invlist.pdf
Terrestrial Invasive Plants of the Potomac River Watershed – Nature Conservancy. www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/maryland/news/news2699.html
Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States – Center for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia. www.invasiveplantatlas.org/index.html
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council. http://www.ma-eppc.org/
Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. http://nbiinin.ciesin.columbia.edu/ipane/ipanespecies/ipanespecies.htm
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council. http://www.se-eppc.org/
NOTE(7). Brian Knightley, Arlington County Deputy Division Chief –Environmental Operations and Planning provided the following information on the conflict of trees and power lines.
Conflicts between overhead utilities is a constant concern in Arlington due to the restricted space that utilities share with our street trees. Public utilities have easements which grant their personnel, as well as their tree trimming contractors, right of ingress and egress, as it relates to providing safe and reliable power within their rights-of-way. Utilities do not need resident consent to trim trees within the utility rights-of-way, and they do not need to give notification either. However, Dominion claims to give a courtesy notice to residents by mail when conducting routine vegetation management along distribution lines. Typically, this notice is attached to the bill header, or sometimes is a stand-alone document (so, if renter occupied, the owner would not receive this courtesy notice). Arlington County has no jurisdictional powers to enforce notifications by public utilities under the current regulations governed by the Virginia SCC.
According to Mr. Knightley, in order to deal with specific actions regarding Dominion’s tree trimming contractors, County Parks have a courtesy agreement with Dominion to coordinate tree trimming and vegetation management actions.
In response to problems AHCA citizens have had in some instances with Dominion contractors regarding tree trimming on their property, in the summer of 2018 AHCA formally dialogued with Scott Reamy, External Affairs Manager, Corporate Public Policy. Dominion Energy Services, Inc O:571-203-5001. Mr Reamy agreed to provide notice to every affected Ashton Heights house (by leaving notice on the door knob) and to include a Dominion phone number for the property owner or representative to call in the event the tree contractor is doing (or about to do) anything that is not in-line with what the property owner desires.
Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes 01/16/2019 Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order a bit earlier at 7:23 pm, since we had a full schedule. Various AHCA Committee reports: Membership Committee: Jim O’Brien – The PayPal aspect of our website is back up, so members can now pay for their memberships on-line. Transportation Committee, Patrick Lueb was not here, but Scott mentioned that Patrick mentioned that the County Board changed some parking rules in another jurisdiction, without proper protocol. Sklar has been dialoguing with other civic associations on this issue. Patrick will be looking into this. Schools Committee, Gregory Morse reported that Thomas Jefferson Middle School will be taking Patrick Henry kids starting in September 2019. The renaming of Washington Lee High School did not have input from all Arlington County Civic Associations. Volunteers were solicited from each Civic Association, but none came forward from Ashton Heights. Development Committee: David Phillips mentioned that anAHCA Development Principles Working Group has been formed with four volunteers. Does anyone else want to join? Brandon Watts mentioned that the County Budget for neighborhood projects has shrunk from $12 million to $5 million this year, so not sure how many of these projects will get done. Ken Matzkin mentioned that NCAC (Neighborhood Conservation Program for Arlington County) has been stalled/delayed until June. The Project Manager has been pulled to work on Amazon’s relocation to our county. Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee: Brooke Alexander presented the Ashton Heights Tree Canopy and Native Plants Principles for review, discussion and approval. . It was voted on and approved. Next month Patrick Lueb will present a draft of the Ashton Heights Principles and Guidelines for Traffic and Development for review and discussion. Denny Edelbrock, the Race Director for the Arlington Bunny Hop – They are looking for runners and volunteers to help with this effort, which will be held this year on April 27, 2019. Christian Dorsey Arlington County Board Chairman who is now serving as the Chair as of January 2016. Here are some of his talking points. Main issue – Budget. We have slow revenue growth, how to fix? Amazon – The total impact will be spread over the next dozen years, so he’s not expecting any serious detrimental impacts. Amazon coming is a good thing. Years ago Arlington put all its eggs in the Federal Government basket, which was a mistake. Better to have a balance of both private and federal activity in the county. Housing – He envisions the need for selective up-zoning for certain properties, especially along transit corridors. How to do this fairly? “Arlington Way” – On the one hand, the traditional openness of the county decision-making has declined. On the other hand, more vigilance is needed to survive certain people “fighting dirty.” County Staff needs to better learn how to engage while avoiding the dirty fights. Arlington County vs. Arlington City? Arlington County will be celebrating our 100th Anniversary this year. Pros and cons to being a County vs. City. Virginia General Assembly would have to grant home rule authority and more responsibility to change our status from a county to a city. Watersheds Project Manager – Anne Guillette with Arlington County Presented plans for a watershed garden at the corner of North Pershing Drive and North Oakland St, and discussed their program to catch rainwater from flowing into Chesapeake Bay. Chief Of Animal Control, Arlington County – Jennifer Toussaint Presentation about what happens in the animal welfare program in Arlington County, with a staff of five dealing with over 1000 calls on wild animals and lost pets. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, January 23, 2019