Ballston Project Fails on Transportation

Ballston Project Fails on Transportation

The Arlington County Transportation Commission voted last week against approving a site plan for a controversial 23-story condominium and retail building in Ballston.

More than 50 residents, many of them members of the Ballston Smart Growth Alliance (BSGA), attended the contentious hearings last Wednesday to voice their concerns about the Fairmont project, to be located at 4420 Fairfax Drive.

Residents are worried the project, developed by The JBG Companies, will increase traffic in the neighborhood and make the streets more dangerous for pedestrians.

“We are certainly pleased that the county will look deeper into this and get it right,” said Ari Meltzer, spokesman for alliance, which represents more than 1,000 people who live in Ballston.

Though the commission voted seven to one to recommend the county board not approve the Fairmont project, members were divided over whether the proposal should ultimately be approved, rejected or denied.

“There was a split opinion on the commission,” said Peter Owen, the commission's chairman. “Some thought it was hopeless, some thought it just needed changes and some thought a delay was needed to get into shape.”

The placement of the Fairmont’s garage entrance has raised the ire of Ballston residents. JBG wants to place it on an alley way off Fairfax Drive, while BSGA members would like to see it relocated to North Vermont Street or Vermont Alley. The current positioning will cause further congestion in the alleyway, Meltzer said.

Though residents are not opposed to the Western entrance to the Ballston Metro being placed under the Fairmont building, they are worried that parking availability will decrease and that the developers do not have a definite plan for locating their “kiss and ride,” Meltzer said.

The Arlington Connection went to press before the Planning Commission held public hearings on the project this week. The Arlington County Board is scheduled to discuss the matter during its Nov. 29 session.

<1b>— Seth Rosen