MINUTES OF NORTH ROSSLYN CIVIC ASSOCIATION GENERAL MEETING
May 13, 2010
The meeting was called to order by President Jennifer Zeien at 7:40 PM. Board members in attendance were Jennifer Zeien, Mark Antell, Paul Derby, Mort Friedman, Heather Schaefer and Anne Spiesman. Brad Nierenberg, chair of NRCA’s Key Boulevard Apartments Redevelopment Task Group, was also in attendance.
The minutes of the previous General Meeting, on February 25, 2010, were approved unanimously.
Paul Derby presented the Treasurer’s report. NRCA now has 42 members. Mr. Derby distributed the Profit & Loss statement and the Balance Sheet for the organization, effective May 13; both of these documents are appended. The Association asset balance is $927.76. The Treasurer’s report was accepted unanimously.
Mark Antell reported on activities relating to the Wilson School area. The Circuit Court upheld the Arlington Public School (APS) position that recent zoning changes rendered moot complaints by North Rosslyn residents about the use of Wilson School. NRCA has not been asked to participate in a study organized by the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), funded by the County, which will address the future of the school, the neighboring park, and the Queens (sic) Court apartments; it appears that APAH is planning changes at Queens Court. Mr. Antell will ask APAH to include NRCA as a participant in the study.
Mr. Derby reported on Metro developments and Police news. With respect to Metro, the security cameras at track level are now connected to the Station Manager’s kiosk. The TV at the kiosk is still inoperable, but Metro is working on it. Metro is ordering replacement light fixtures for the Arlington Cemetery station, which NRCA has “adopted”, and the broken station escalator has been fixed. Mr. Derby reported that Captain Brian Berke has moved to a new position within the Arlington County Police Department, and Lt. Dave Reiten will be the acting Second District Commander until a permanent replacement is named. The crime reports are posted monthly on the NRCA Forum. Mr. Derby noted that the police are investigating a number of overnight automobile break-ins that have occurred in the neighborhood.
Jennifer Zeien discussed some developments in the business and commercial area of North Rosslyn. The Long Range Planning Committee is conducting a Building Height and Taper Study that opened a dialog with county staff, which will set guidelines, consistent with existing zoning, to provide guidance to developers on terminology in the existing laws. The goal is to improve the attractiveness of the Rosslyn skyline as new buildings are constructed. The core business district (CO Rosslyn) presently allows for building heights up to 300 feet above average site elevation, except in a special two-block area known as “Central Place” where the site plan process has resulted in building heights consistent with the maximum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration (because Rosslyn is on the approach to Reagan National Airport), somewhere just under 500 feet above sea level. The Rosslyn Business Improvement District responded to the Height and Taper Study by hosting the Skyline Forum, an evening where noted architects were invited to present views on the form of Rosslyn’s skyline, regardless of existing zoning laws. The community can expect pressure from developers to revise existing zoning laws to allow for developments in excess of 300 feet above average site elevation in the central business district.
The Artisphere at the old Newseum site will open this fall. It will include, among other amenities, a black box theater, retail, a Ticketron outlet, restaurants, Synetic Theater, a dance group, Shakespeare Theater, and more; according to Terri Prell, there will be something happening at the Artisphere pretty much every day and every night for the first 18 months. More information is available at http://www.arlingtonarts.org/venues/Artisphere.aspx.
Heather Schaefer reported on a County-sponsored meeting on Land Acquisition and Preservation Policy, held on May 3. Citizens expressed their concerns to County officials regarding plazas and a number of school and park issues, none of immediate relevance to North Rosslyn. Several handouts she received will be scanned and put on the NRCA web site.
Mr. Derby described the uncertain fate of the planetarium attached to the Arlington Education Center. The planetarium seats seventy and offers a program on the first Monday of every month. It has been used in K-12 education. A petition signed by three thousand people persuaded APS not to close the facility, but the school system cut the instructor salary line by 60%, thereby reducing his effort to part-time, and limited the use of the planetarium to K-6; the future of the facility is unclear. It would cost $350-450K to refurbish the planetarium. The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club is offering to provide astronomers to support outreach uses for the facility, and trying to get the attention of the County Board and School Board; without action by either Board, the planetarium will not reopen this fall.
Ms. Zeien reported that NRCA has submitted an application to host the 2010 Walking Town Meeting with the County Board on June 23. If NRCA is selected, County Board members and County staff will accompany local residents on a walking tour of North Rosslyn, highlighting issues the community faces that can be acted on by the Board. NRCA will know shortly whether it has been selected. She indicated that NRCA’s application identified the issues for discussion as: successful integration of high-rise and low-rise residential developments in an urban setting; restoration and preservation of open space; and maintenance and enhancement of pedestrian thoroughfares.
Mr. Derby reported on his efforts to encourage the Monday Corporation to rehabilitate the terrace at 1400 Key Boulevard, a rooftop passage that connects Key Boulevard with the skywalk over Nash Street. In response to his appeal, Monday has stated that it will clean and improve the area by replacing pavers and plantings, leveling the gravel, refinishing exterior surfaces, and restoring signage indicating the route to the Rosslyn Metro Station.
Terri Prell remarked that she had been invited to represent the Arts Commission in the Gateway Park Stakeholders’ Committee meetings, and suggested that NRCA ask to be represented on the committee. Jennifer Zeien will pursue the matter.
A special election for the remaining vacancy on the Board was held. Jennifer Zeien nominated Heather Schaefer to fill the vacancy, and her nomination was seconded. There being no further nominations, Ms. Schaefer was elected by acclamation.
The remainder of the meeting was devoted to affordable housing and the related topic of the proposed redevelopment of the Key Boulevard Apartments. Mark Antell reported on a meeting of Arlington Housing Solutions that he attended. The rental stock for persons earning up to 60% of median family income (MFI) is 1/3 of what it was ten years ago, and for families earning up to 50% of MFI, the drop is even greater. The stock has gone down because moderate rental units have been torn down and replaced by expensive apartments, while rents have risen at those that remain.
Brad Nierenberg then led a discussion concerning AHC, Inc.’s plans to replace the current Key Boulevard Apartments with a substantially larger residential structure; Mr. Nierenberg chairs NRCA’s Key Boulevard Apartments Redevelopment Task Group. AHC’s literature on the project suggests that no rezoning will be necessary to build the project it envisions and that the proposed density will be allowed through a transfer of development rights; that claim is false, according to the county officials consulted in the matter. AHC has also suggested that provision of affordable housing is a sufficient community benefit to compensate the County for the higher density of the proposed building. Mr. Nierenberg enumerated the Task Group’s objections to the AHC proposal in its present form: (1) excessive density and height, (2) insufficient setbacks and (3) increased traffic, particularly on 19th Street and at the Ode Street-Key Boulevard intersection. His initial goal is to activate the community, which it is hoped will make AHC more attentive to our concerns. Much discussion about strategy ensued, a consequence of which was the adoption of a formal position by the Association. Mark Antell moved that NRCA adopt the Task Group position opposing AHC’s current proposal. The Task Group’s grounds for opposing the development as proposed are:
1. Excessive number of units and building height.
2. Insufficient setbacks.
3. Excessive traffic owing to number of cars and parking garage entrance on 19th St.
Mort Friedman seconded the motion. Much of the subsequent discussion addressed the specificity of NRCA’s traffic concern. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mr. Nierenberg indicated that he needs more access to apartment complexes in the area, so that he can inform their residents about the AHC proposal. Draft letters to members of the County Board may be downloaded from the NRCA web site. He encouraged every resident present to bring a neighbor to the next meeting dealing with the AHC proposal; the Task Group meeting will precede the next scheduled General Meeting of the Association. He also suggested that each attendee make an effort to bring the matter to the attention of their neighbors: Paul Derby will “adopt” Highview, Anne Spiesman will adopt most of the 1600 block of Colonial Terrace, and Brad Nierenberg will be responsible for 19th Street. Jennifer Zeien will bring the proposal to the attention of Highgate residents at the Annual Meeting of the Highgate Owners Association on May 17.
The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.
Mort Friedman, SecretaryThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Paul Derby,
NRCA_P_L_and_BS_May_2010-1.pdf (39 Kb, 549 downloads) NRCA P&L and Balance Sheet
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