1999 September

The Rock Springer

Next Civic Association Meeting-—Thursday, September 16, 7:30 p.m.

The Rock Spring Civic Association will meet on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in room 227 (the music room) at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 N. Harrison Street.


• Candidates for the Arlington County Board: Paul Ferguson, Frances Finta, Michael Lane, and Charles Monroe

• Candidates for the School Board: Sharon Davis and David Foster

• Unified residential development proposal for 5101 Little Falls Road

• Placement of modular classrooms at Jamestown Elementary School

• Proposed development at 5210 and 5220 Old Dominion Drive

• Traffic issues on N. Albemarle Street

• Need for volunteers on RSCA committees

NOTE: Candidates for state offices will speak and answer questions at the next RSCA meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 19. Please mark your calendars.

Many Hands Make Light Work

RSCA is severely shorthanded. We’re facing a number of important issues, as you’ll see from the contents of this newsletter, and we have more work than we have people to do it. Won’t you think about devoting a few hours a month to neighborhood concerns. There are a number of committees that could use your skills--traffic management, communication, and planning and zoning, for example. We’ll be talking more about the opportunities at our September meeting. Hope to see you there

Development Planned
for Saegmuller House at 5101 Little Falls Road

The Barrett Companies, contract owner of the property at 5101 Little Falls Road, has proposed retaining the old house and building seven new houses on the site using the unified residential development provision of the County Zoning Ordinance. The purpose of this provision is to provide flexibility in order to promote development that is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and to preserve historical features and significant trees.

The existing house was built c. 1919 for the Saegmuller family who lived at Reserve Hill (now the Knights of Columbus headquarters). It was home to John Saegmuller, the eldest of three Saegmuller sons.

Barry Chamberlin of the Barrett Companies met several times in August with adjacent neighbors and representatives of the Rock Spring and Yorktown civic associations to explain his plans and to get feedback. He presented two options: the unified plan (which he prefers) and a by-right plan. The unified plan requires modifications to the width and area of the new lots, but it provides substantial buffering to the neighboring properties on N. George Mason Drive and 33rd Street. It also requires less grading and less paving than the by-right plan. Under the by-right alternative, the old house would be demolished and eight new houses would be built in a cul-de-sac configuration. The first floors of the houses on the downhill side of the cul-de-sac would be at or above the rooflines of the existing homes on N. George Mason Drive.

On August 29, the RSCA Executive Committee, working with the immediate neighbors, voted to support the unified plan with certain conditions concerning retention of existing trees, new plantings, fencing, maintenance, and water abatement. The County Board will hear the request on September 18.

Northern Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan

Light rail along Columbia Pike? Metro to Dulles? Light rail to Potomac Yards? More bikeways? Better sidewalks? Arlington, in cooperation with other Northern Virginia jurisdictions has developed a plan to map out our region’s future transportation projects over the next 20 years. Public forums to explain the plan and to solicit comments about it are scheduled for Wed., Sept. 22, Arlington Career Center dining room, 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, 7 pm; and Mon., Sept. 27, County Board Room, Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., 7 pm. The Sept. 27 forum will be shown live on Channel 31. For more information, call 228-3681 or see the website at www.NoVA2020.org.

Jamestown School’s New Modular Classrooms

The 1999-2000 school year began with a record-setting enrollment at Jamestown Elementary School. The student population is projected to be 592! To accommodate all these students, a new trailer module containing 5 1/2 classrooms plus restrooms was installed in late August. Jamestown already had five individual trailers located at the rear (west) and side (south).

A number of adjacent neighbors have expressed concern about the visual effect of these trailers on the surrounding community and about the notification process. Community meetings were held in August only after neighbors contacted the Arlington County Public Schools’ facilities and operations project manager. Discussions are under way about landscaping treatments to screen the trailers and soften their appearance from the street. They are expected to remain in place for several years until the school can be permanently expanded.

The School Board has approved funding to begin design work in 2000 for a $2.1 million addition. Construction is scheduled to begin in school year 2002 -2003. The Jamestown PTA has established a committee to monitor and guide efforts to manage present overcrowding and future construction and welcomes input from neighbors.

Country Club Renovation

The Washington Golf and Country Club will undertake a substantial renovation of its clubhouse beginning in the first quarter of 2000. Plans call for architectural changes to the building's entry and golf course facades, updated furnishings and finishes, some reconfiguration of interior spaces, added bathrooms, structural repairs, installation of a sprinkler system, and easier accessibility. Construction is expected to take 24 months.

Speeding on North Albemarle Street

Speeding has become an increasing concern on N. Albemarle Street near the Jamestown playing field, especially now that school is back in session. The RSCA has sent a letter to the Arlington County Department of Public Works asking staff to work with us to find ways to slow the traffic and make the street safer, including circles or stop signs and more speed-limit signs. A police officer who recently stopped one speeder and signaled another to slow down said that some cars were traveling at 50 mph--the limit is 25!

Traffic Issues on Neighborhood Streets

Albemarle isn’t the only street experiencing speeding and other traffic issues. Rock Spring Rd., Little Falls Rd., and Williamsburg Blvd. also have problems. Are there other areas of concern? Can you serve on a committee to look into these issues?

Other Neighborhood Traffic Issues

Albemarle isn’t the only street experiencing speeding and other traffic issues. Rock Spring Rd., Little Falls Rd., and Williamsburg Blvd. also have problems. Are there other areas of concern? Can you serve on a committee to look into these issues?

Zoning Administrator’s Ruling Appealed

Earlier this year, Rosewood Development filed an application for a variance to allow a roof height of 65 feet instead of the code-restricted height of 35 feet for two proposed new houses at 5210 and 5220 Old Dominion Drive. These properties are located between N. George Mason Drive and N. 37th Street and have a very steep, overgrown driveway. 1970s. They were part of the backyard of 3461 N. Edison Street until the property was subdivided sometime in the 1970s. Rosewood wants to build the houses on top of the hill instead of digging into it, claiming that the houses will not be marketable unless they sit on top of the hill near the back of the properties. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) was scheduled to hear the request on June 9, but the applicant asked for a deferral.

In 1994, another developer submitted a very similar proposal, and the BZA granted a variance for a height of 60 feet (5 feet less than the current proposal). The builder failed to build either house but cleared the land of 44 mature trees.

When the current proposal was submitted, the zoning administrator ruled that the variance granted in 1994 is vested, because plans had been approved. This means that, even though there is now a new developer with new plans, the height variance is still valid—and in fact will remain valid, theoretically, forever. Surrounding neighbors are opposing this "vesting by plan approval" ruling, and the BZA is hearing their appeal on Sept. 8. The RSCA Executive Committee has voted to oppose both the variance request and the zoning administrator’s ruling.

Churches and Use Permits

The Levine School of Music moved its operations from the Rock Spring Congregational Church to the Westover Baptist Church at the end of July. In the meantime, discussion of use permit requirements for churches continues. On July 12, Arlington County staff met with church representatives and others to provide information and hear concerns. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27. RSCA has been invited to participate.