Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arlingtonians Want Hyper-Restrictive Zoning, Except When They Don't

According to Charlie Clark of the Falls Church News-Press, it looks like Arlington's zoning administrator is holding up yet another improvement in Arlington's Westover neighborhood, this time a proposed farmers market:
[John] Reeder's vision, which he says is backed by Westover merchants, would start with 20 farmer-vendors on McKinley St., on the grounds and parking lots of the Reed School/Westover Library. He and 25 fellow enthusiasts foresee the market as being open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., supervised by a new nonprofit created with civic associations. The newly renovated Reed, he says, was designed with a front plaza and sidewalks with just such a use in mind.

This November, Reeder won verbal approval from the School Board, which has jurisdiction over the Reed property.

But there's a snag. "The county zoning staff has indicated they will not issue a use permit until after an elaborate change in the county ordinance pertaining to farmers markets," Reeder says. Officials asked for detailed plans that require the blessing of school board and superintendent. "The staff told us it will likely not be till September or later this year before we could get a use permit," Reeder says. "That means essentially there will be no Westover farmers market in 2011."
What, do you expect Arlington's zoning administrator to go rushing in blind to something as dangerous and controversial as (gasp!) a farmers market! Won't someone think of the children???

But Arlingtonians have asked for this type of hyper-restrictive regulation. At the same time Westover residents are shaking their heads at the regulatory maze to set up a simple farmers market, Lyon Village residents are asking for new ways to restrict parking on their streets. And while the project is finally moving forward, it took a concerted community effort to overcome citizen & County objections to the Westover Market Beer Garden.

Look at the East Falls Church redevelopment plan and the top citizen complaints about the area - "Lacks unifying identify or central focus," "Has underused land and prevalent surface parking," "Lacks neighborhood-serving retail." Historically, Arlingtonians haven't see those as bugs - they were features. In 1986, EFC residents had the county create zoning bans on business or multifamily homes to keep those loud young people out of their neighborhood. And now 25 years later they're wondering why their neighborhood is boring and isolated.
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