February held a packed agenda. Before turning to some of the many things we did, I want to congratulate Jay Fisette on his outstanding career on the County Board. Jay decided it is time for him to take on a new challenge. He will serve out his term, so we will have his experienced leadership on the Board for the rest of the year, and I wish him all the best in whatever he undertakes next.
We approved the several projects in the 6.5 acre Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study: a school, a park, an affordable housing complex, parking garages, a fire station, and a mixed-use residential building. Getting this done required four different land owners to cooperate: Arlington County and Public Schools, the non-profit APAH, and Penzance, a commercial developer. This report by News Channel 7 is a nice summary.
We also approved the Ballston Station project which includes the historic Ball Family Cemetery, a church, a preschool, affordable and market rate housing, and a Tiffany window.
Our immigrant community has been looking for information and reassurance about ICE activities. We presented an updated webpage with information and links to government and non-profit resources. Arlington continues to be a welcoming community that protects its residents. Arlington County law enforcement will continue its mission to keep our community safe, not enforce federal immigration laws. We cannot, however, interfere with the work of ICE agents. Our counterparts in Arlington Public Schools have also affirmed their commitment to support all of Arlington’s children. We have been assured that, for the moment, ICE is only targeting known criminals for whom they have warrants. I urge anyone with questions or concerns to check out the webpage and the links to groups like the National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, or ACLU.
Esta información y la página web del Condado de Arlington también están disponibles en español.
The Manager presented his budget and, because of school growth and Metro needs, recommended a 2 cent increase in the tax rate. Christian Dorsey and I wanted to advertise a higher increase to allow flexibility in case the situation changes (the advertised rate is the highest we can set for FY 2018; we are allowed to select anything lower). Our three colleagues voted to advertise the 2 cent increase and to ask the Manager to present options that would only require a 1 cent increase.
We now start a series of work sessions, all of which will be video streamed, aired live on Arlington TV, and archived online. We will hold public hearings at the County Board room on Tuesday, March 28th and Thursday, March 30th. You can sign up to speak at either hearing online, starting at 8:00 AM five days before. You can also provide your feedback on the proposed budget online.
Finally, there are always surprises in this job. We learned recently that, while it is not legal for most people to own chickens in Arlington, it is currently legal to own many exotic species like tigers and lions. We advertised new regulations to prohibit owning most of those species.
I hope you will join me for the next in my series of community book discussions on Monday, March 20th. We’ll be discussing For the Love of Cities by Peter Kageyama with the executive directors of the Rosslyn, Crystal City, and Ballston BIDs as special guests. The discussion starts at 7:30 pm at the Bennett Park Art Atrium, 1601 Clarendon Boulevard in Rosslyn. The discussion is free, but we ask that you RSVP.