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Editor: During the Arlington County Civic Federation debate, County Board member Takis Karantonis claimed the County Board is “waiting for Richmond” to grant additional “jurisdiction” to improve environmental conditions in Arlington.

What Karantonis doesn’t say is that there are already laws on the books granting Arlington plenty of leeway. Arlington simply ignores them. Below are a few examples:

• First is Virginia Code § 62.1-44.15:33, which provides for a waiver giving Arlington authorization to enact stormwater-management ordinances more stringent than the State Water Control Board’s “minimum regulations” in order to correct “excessive localized flooding within the watershed.” Why Arlington refuses to apply for such a waiver is unknown.

• Another alternative would be to charge a stormwater-utility fee (as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church already do) based on the percentage of water-shedding/heat-trapping impervious surfaces. This fee shifts the cost of runoff to those who generate the most while encouraging property owners to reduce imperviousness. Whereas Arlington has studied imposing a similar fee, it remains untapped.

• Virginia Code § 15.2-961.1 enables jurisdictions (like Arlington), located in Virginia Planning District 8 and classified as part of an eight-hour non-attainment area for ozone, to enact local tree ordinances that emphasize tree preservation over tree planting when meeting tree-canopy requirements.

• Virginia Code § 58.1-3231 and § 58.1-3230 permit counties, cities and towns to adopt a “use-value assessment” program that permits localities to provide tax relief to large private-property owners who leave land undeveloped as open space. If Arlington had adopted this program (as have Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, etc.), the owners of large properties like the Rouse-Febrey-Lothrop estate might not have pursued redevelopment over preservation.

Rather than “waiting” for Richmond, the Arlington County Board should be exploiting every existing opportunity. The real question is why it doesn’t.

Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Arlington

(1) comment

Janet Smith

Why haven't Arlington print and on-line news outlets brought this information to our attention?

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