Local Commentary

The Little City Weed

gardnermug

Picture a ravenous pack of dogs circling in your kitchen. They are watching as you move a big juicy roast from the oven to the dining room table. The dogs want that meat. They may not be sure how they are going to get it, but every shaky hand or hesitant step gives them encouragement that, when the time is right, they can pounce and devour.

 

littlecityweedwebheader

Picture a ravenous pack of dogs circling in your kitchen. They are watching as you move a big juicy roast from the oven to the dining room table. The dogs want that meat. They may not be sure how they are going to get it, but every shaky hand or hesitant step gives them encouragement that, when the time is right, they can pounce and devour.

City Center South is almost done. Developers of the largest commercial initiative in Falls Church, which represents more than $2 million in much needed annual revenue, are ready to break ground on a project a decade in the making. The city council gave final approval three years ago, the project stalled during the economic downturn, and now all parties are ready to move forward as originally intended. Last week the site plan was submitted to planning commissioners, who will work through final administration of the initiative with the developer, and then folks will start digging.

The opponents of City Center South, however, have no intention of ever allowing the project to be laid on the fine table of the good people of Falls Church. The opponents, several of whom are now members of city council, intend to take advantage of any possible opportunity to devour the initiative before it gets built.

Proponents of the initiative are mistaken if they believe they can ok-doke these last steps on the path toward ground breaking.

City Center South is not slated to go before city council again. The current council is desperately unhappy about not being able to redo the project. It was approved by a very different group of city council members three years ago. The initiative passed unanimously. All local elected have cited the need for more commercial revenue in the city. But careful students of local politics also remember the initiative sparked a second (failed) charter change referendum, launched the NIMBY opposition local political careers of Nader Baroukh and friends, and council member David Snyder voted for the project only after spending three years trying to kill it and then dunning it as an “utterly unoriginal design that does not reflect Falls Church” (Washington Post, February 29, 2008).

The reasons for opposition are obvious and brutal. There is a political base in our community which wants Falls Church City to fail as a viable community. That base teams up with groups which want to preserve Falls Church as a walled off 1950s gated community, people opposed to the social engineering (a code word which, yes, means something else), and people with blind political rage. The space left for legitimate objection is very narrow.

The opponents of City Center South will attack the initiative. If they succeed, the City will likely get sued by investors who have relied on the prior approval and good faith of the city. Moreover, Falls Church would shut the doors to other developers who would be incredibly leery of investing in a pack-mindset community which does not honor its agreements.

 


Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.