Letters to the Editor: March 17 – 23, 2011

Relaxing Zoning Means Big Changes for Falls Church


If “The Music Man” Professor Harold Hill were to come to Falls Church City, would he come as an articulate, well-dressed man, planning to line his own pockets by leading a grassroots uprising with the claim that he was there solely to protect the Citizens of Falls Church City from the sins of longstanding construction zoning and an inability to develop substandard lots?

Could this out-of-town developer who happens to own investment residential real estate inside City limits mislead the local residents into believing that he too is a resident, merely by presenting himself as a City “homeowner,” talking about saving “our” City, and using a Falls Church City address on his marketing materials, which is actually just the address of a packaging service in a local strip mall?

Think through some of these ideas:

1) Relaxed zoning regulations will change the character of Falls Church City. Visit the new construction on sub-standard lots at Pine and N. West Streets and then consider how they can deflate nearby home prices.

2) Professional real estate investors teach that profits are made at purchase, so be suspect of any developer reporting that he will hypothetically pay a premium for your lot because he can redevelop it as sub-standard lots.

3) Real estate agents work hard for their money if you consider that commissions on transactions typically dole out only 1.5% of sales price to each of the agents and brokers – meaning more houses equates to more volume of real estate transactions resulting in the pathway toward bigger salaries. Remember that when Realtors stand up in support of sub-dividing.

4) The real estate taxes collected on new construction will not pay the tens of millions of dollars needed to build a new school, and we’ll surely need one with the rapidly multiplying population that further sub-dividing could create.

5) In addition to pressures on schools, more housing will place more demand on City services: sewer, water, electrical, firefighting, police, schools, creating an increase in mil rate.

Why isn’t our “Harold Hill” mentioning any of these concerns while he’s ostensibly fighting to “save” us? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t live here. Maybe it’s because he will sell his newly developed homes and, pockets lined, be gone.

Jim Custer

Falls Church

Maller Thanks Backers on Effort To Enforce Zoning


Pam Callison thinks it is “funny” that I voted along with a unanimous City Council, after extensive public input and decades of planning, to allow $300 million in private sector investment to generate about 10¢ of net positive tax revenues for our City. On development, affordable housing, zoning, the budget, schools and taxation, I am proud of my consistent record, and I welcome vigorous debate on any issue based on facts.

I firmly believe that the legacy of decades of effort by ordinary and extraordinary citizens of this exceptional Little City justifies my own small efforts to husband and to enhance that legacy. I deeply appreciate the friendship and support I have received from people throughout the City for my efforts to enforce and to reform our zoning code.

The development urged by McArthur and his hydra-like LLCs does not pay its way and imposes substantial costs on neighbors and on other taxpayers. The small sample to date, even assuming “only” 100 net new homes from substandard lot re-splitting, indicates over $1 million annual drain, net of taxes generated. What is the justification for allowing this subsidy for development, contrary to long-adopted plans and the clear language of the zoning code? With whom should we cast our lot as a City: those who have been here and worked for the betterment of the community, or those who just wish to make a quick buck taking advantage of the failures of our zoning staff?

I guess Ms. Callison also thinks it is “funny” that the zoning administrator chose to pursue a personal agenda by taking issue with my home improvements, many of which he personally approved many years ago. My very simple appeal of what I believe are wholly erroneous and unfounded accusations is before the BZA on March 17, in Council Chambers at 7:30. Citizens interested in this issue should come and see the proceedings and learn the facts. But I suppose that wouldn’t be funny.

Dan Maller

Falls Church


Hearings Targeting Muslim-Americans Are ‘Appalling’


As a Falls Church resident I am appalled at Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Muslim Americans. Blaming terrorism on an entire faith isolates Muslim Americans and helps to justify persecution of them. We live in a community of people of all faiths and persuasions. We should be working together to end terrorism, not singling out any particular group of Americans. Muslim Americans living in our community have already suffered enough from hate crimes in retaliation for 9/11.

Moya Atkinson

Chair, Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture


Tennessee Williams Better Playwright Than O’Neill?


If Tennessee Williams is the greatest American playwright ever, then I suppose he has more Pulitzer Prizes than Eugene O’Neill (four) and a Nobel Prize to go with them? What’s that? He doesn’t? Then maybe it’s just the opinion of one man who owns a newspaper.

Joyce Migdall wrote about the taxes of “working stiffs” making $50000 being higher than that of millionaires. In fact a family of four with two children under 17 making $50000 pays no federal income tax (not including Social Security).

Stephen Donnelly

Falls Church


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