Letter: Listen to Proposal's Neighbors

Letter: Listen to Proposal's Neighbors

To the Editor:

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting where developer CHPPENN I, LLC presented preliminary proposals for providing affordable housing dwellings on North Hill on Richmond Highway, numbering over 400 including apartments and townhouses. Under the current Zoning and Comprehensive Plan, 67 dwellings may be constructed by right. As such, the proposal will require public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to obtain approval. At the meeting, attendees provided their input which will be utilized by the developer in shaping their development proposal. Hopefully an attractive affordable housing development will result, that will benefit the less fortunate among us.

Among the attendees were David Dale and Katherine Ward who the previous day had been recycled into revolving door co-chair positions of the MVCCA. Mr. Dale, who previously was the president of the Spring Bank Community Association, had advocated, several years ago, that instead of developing North Hill for affordable housing, the money should be used to buy up foreclosed homes in Spring Bank. While such self-serving civic involvement would justify disqualifying a person from being taken seriously in the civic arena, apparently Mr. Dale still has a fan base in those of the 40 or so remaining community association members of the MVCCA (out of over 220 in the Mount Vernon District) that voted to re-elect him.

In my personal experience, Katherine Ward is the most undemocratic leader the MVCCA has ever chosen. When a neighbor and I attended an MVCCA Board meeting in 2009 to express our opposition to an MVCCA proposal to amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow public access in the Little Hunting Creek Pumping Station land, Ms. Ward as presiding officer refused to allow us to speak, practically breaking the gavel on the table as she pounded it perhaps two dozen times to prevent us from speaking. To thwart the MVCCA's plan to destroy the peaceful nature of my neighborhood, I filed my own Comprehensive Plan nomination which the Board of Supervisors used as the vehicle to bar public access into the Pumping Station lands. At last Thursday's meeting, Ms. Ward informed the developer that he would have to bring the development proposal to the MVCCA to seek their blessing before submitting it to the county for approval.

Words to the wise: In the 2012 case New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria that the Board of Supervisors had properly given the greatest weight to the most closely adjacent neighborhood in determining that a cell tower could not be placed at the Masonic Lodge on Fort Hunt Road. In that case, the MVCCA had passed a resolution favoring the cell tower and the Planning Commission had voted to recommend its approval. The opposition of the closest, most affected neighbors on Plymouth Road who do not even have a civic association was deemed by the Board of Supervisors and the Courts to carry greater weight than the support of the MVCCA and the Planning Commission. Thus, if the MVCCA wants to pass a resolution concerning the proposed development on North Hill, it needs to consult with the most closely adjacent neighborhoods, receive their input, and pass a resolution that complies with the views of those closely adjacent neighbors. Otherwise, its resolution will carry no weight.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon