Arlington’s Expanded Housing Option Ordinance Leaves Neighbors No Rights and the County No Wiser

Arlington’s Expanded Housing Option Ordinance Leaves Neighbors No Rights and the County No Wiser


At the outer edges of Arlington County — in the Arlington-East Falls Church area — a three-story monolith housing six dwellings and providing three parking spaces has been proposed for an R6 treed lot where a 1925 house now stands. The developer can get away with only three spaces by right because of the proximity of the lot to the East Falls Church Metro. This is not a walkable neighborhood and especially so if someone is disabled. Every one of the six new neighbors will need a car — at least one. So that means at least three cars will be parking permanently in front of neighbors’ homes and along our narrow 2300 block of North Tuckahoe Street. It is only 17 feet wide. Will fire trucks be able to get by in an emergency? That’s a question being assessed by the County’s Office of the Fire Marshall.

Below is a list of objections to this particular Expanded Housing Option project — objections not taken into account or even invited from the neighborhood by the County because of the by right design of the ordinance. The list was developed before it was learned that the public had no right to comment on the permit request and thus no place to send it.

Reasons to Reject the EHO Permit Request for 2315 N. Tuckahoe St. (ZEH024-00003)

The developer could not have designed a project more antithetical (completely opposite) to this neighborhood, comprising a small – roughly three-block historic area – into which he proposes to shoehorn six dwellings where there is currently a single house built in 1925. In addition, his proposal has several serious environmental and design drawbacks. They are the following:

1. The property is environmentally sensitive because it backs onto a moist, fertile, habitat area of the County’s Tuckahoe Park that is particularly beneficial to native plants and wildlife. Either the historic home should be preserved (recommended option) or at least the current building footprint should be preserved so as not to adversely affect the restored natural habitat and its inhabitants.

2. The property is located at the bottom of a hill and thus deluged with storm water runoff from the properties and street above it. Therefore, the current proportion of impervious surface area to absorptive surface area should be preserved, not expanded and thus to adversely affect the contiguous parkland and houses.

3. The property is currently the site of mature canopy trees, which absorb excess water, prevent erosion, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. See especially the large, decades-old, slow-growing American holly in the front right corner. Expanding the building footprint would lead to the further destruction of our mature tree canopy — as was done to the extensive tree canopy to the right of 2315 when it was clear cut to accommodate three new houses where there was one.

4. To insert a 6-unit dwelling on this property would necessitate siting it sideways, contrary to the orientation of all the rest of the homes and destroying the character and charm of this neighborhood, which is generously sprinkled with historic homes. These homes represent an important period in the community’s history from the era 1890-1920, much of which was already destroyed to make way for I-66. Must we — and Arlington County – lose all connection with our history and heritage?

5. A 6-unit dwelling would generate the need for quite a lot of parking space, as our narrow North Tuckahoe Street could not — and should not be expected to – accommodate any spillover.

In light of these five significant problems with the developer’s proposal, please continue to deny the permit request for such an outsized, outlandish project.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet Sasser