Community Benefits for Rosslyn Site Plans
Dear All:

One of our board members suggested I post the following message, which was sent to county staff in response to a proposed modification to the community benefits for the Waterview project. Although the particular proposed change is quite specific, NRCA's response addresses the broader issue of how community benefit packages are handled within the county.


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Hi Jill:

It's a pleasure to meet you (electronically). NRCA agrees that, as to this kiosk, it seems that the time for this ill-considered community benefit has passed. While NRCA supports deletion of the site plan condition for an electronic kiosk on the Waterview site, we are concerned with the larger issue that community benefit dollars may be frittered away on projects that are ill-considered, never materialize, or result in amenities which are not as accessible to the community as was envisioned by the original site plan condition. Some recent examples of this include:

- The ‘public meeting room’ at the Archstone that is very difficult to use for community meetings.
- The ‘urban oasis’ park at north of McDonald's which will be ceded to JBG for Central Place.
- The public viewing platform for the State Department building, which is closed to the public.
- The scheduled removal of a concrete walkway over Lee Highway as part of the Rosslyn Gateway project.
- The reduction of hours for public access, signage, and public amenities associated with the 1812 public pass-through lobby area.
- The repurposing of retail/restaurant space in Turnberry Tower.
- The scheduled removal of a heavily-used Metro escalator as part of a "clean-up" amendment to the site plan for 1812 North Moore Street development.

Community benefits are supposed to ameliorate the impact of increased density caused by re-development on the community. Too often, however, the community's voice is lost in making the determination of community benefits for particular sites, particularly with regard to changes after the site plan has received initial county approval. The community benefits process, particularly after site plan approval by the county board, appears to us to be dominated -- if not controlled -- by county staff and the developer.

The process would be improved by addition of an early step in which the community was encouraged to deliberate and recommend priorities for community benefits associated with particular site developments occurring within civic association borders. It would also be strengthened by more substantive involvement of the community in any post-approval site plan changes, particularly those now viewed as "minor" or "clean-up." After all, we live here and have a number of realistic ideas about what is most needed in our community, and we also have a stake in ensuring that the community receives the benefit of the bargain as originally negotiated in the site plan approval process.

Jennifer (Zeien)
President, NRCA
Posts: 285 | Registered: January 09, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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