After two-and-a-half hours of citizen input and deliberation, the Arlington County Board voted 5-0 this afternoon to “accept” the East Falls Church Study Plan developed over the last three years by the East Falls Church Task Force. By “accepting,” as opposed to adopting the plan, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said that while the study has been “handed off” from the task force to the county government, the deliberations on the specific makeup of many details of the plan will remain open for public and official county input over the next four to six months before being finally adopted.
“Citizens have asked us to slow down, and we are slowing down,” Fisette said, adding the hoped citizens would “speed up” their study and involvement in the process and that a final “policy framework” can be adopted by the end of the year.
Board Member Chris Zimmerman stated the importance of adopting a plan in the face of potential alternatives for undesirable development that could come from other places if there are no “expectations” or “presumptions” in place.
Fisette also noted that, over and above the three years of work by the task force to produce the study, Arlington County has over 40 years of experience in land use planning around its Metro stations, and that as a result it has become a national model that others look to and study for its effectiveness in integrating Metro stations with surrounding areas.
Zimmerman also noted that moving forward, the report “accepted” today establishes that the East Falls Church area is unique, and unlike other Metro station neighborhoods, that there will be no attempt to superimpose a model from other Metro centers onto it, that the single family homes contiguous with it shall remain, that new planning is limited to the commercially-industrially zones portions, that there will be a major focus on design, the character of the streets and “enhancing the livability of the area for the people who live there.”
Board Member Barbara Favola expressed her desire that, going forward, a focus on “creating a sense of place” will be enhanced, and she made sure that language “to preserve and protect existing natural areas” in and around the site, and that “ensuring appropriate multi-modal movement on the streets” will also be built into a final plan.
Fisette thanked the task force for its “yeoman work” on preparing the study, and said that with the board’s acceptance of its report, its work is now done.