Letters to the Editor: March 19 – 25, 2015
Concern Over Taxes Doesn’t Make One Grumpy & Stingy
Your “grumpy and stingy” editorial last week is similar to Mr. Dakin’s Letter to the Editor of January 8. He, however, was more explicit: If you (a hater of children and neighbors) don’t want to pay higher taxes, move out.
Being rightly concerned with “the needs of others” should not exclude those who live on a fixed income and those less wealthy than the norm: There are no more raises or promotions for the retired, and while our city has a high median income, Falls Church is not Great Falls (which, by the way, enjoys a lower tax rate).
Any school-related increase in city’s property values might not last forever: Yesterday I heard a couple at an open house ask the realtor, “Oh, this is Falls Church, not Arlington?” The realtor allowed that was the case. The wife said, “Oh, that means higher taxes.” Perhaps they knew of the recently proposed 4¢ increase in our rates or of the proposed $100 million high school; but maybe not.
Grumpy? Sometimes: I’m over 75. But stingy? To assert that I must tap even further into my savings is necessarily to require me to exhaust my resources entirely at an undefined time in the future. If I were certain that I would be dead in, say, three years, I could forego the fear of being completely destitute, a burden to the state or to my children, by the age of 80 or 85, and I might “reach a little deeper.” But because I cannot be certain, I have an obligation to myself and to my family to be protective of those savings.
Even as a conspicuous advocate of free speech, your editorial hints that if we want to live here in Falls Church, we must do so without dissent; that arguing for any legitimate interest other than what you and the school board define exclusively as the “needs of others” is subversive. Or is the “grumpy and stingy” phrase no more than simply grumpy?
Mason District Needs Supervisor to Step up for Citizens
With many revitalization projects in the planning for Seven Corners and Bailey’s Crossroads there seems to be a common cry from angry residents; they feel left out and ignored in the land use process.
Mason District needs a Supervisor who will stand up for the citizens and follow the recommendations of staff and the guidelines set forth in the comprehensive plan when it comes to land use.
Take the case of the proposed redevelopment on 2.7 acres at Charles Street and Leesburg Pike (former Geico location) and an adjacent vacant lot that has been neglected for years.
The residents of Courtland Park and Glen Forest are directly affected. Everyone agrees that the property is unsightly and redevelopment is welcomed. At issue is the type of development that works best for these communities. Proposed redevelopment for this property includes a drive-through 24-7 CVS pharmacy and casual fast food restaurants.
At the March 3 Board of Supervisors hearing the residents of Courtland Park made clear their many concerns:
• The auto oriented nature of the drive-through, as well as the store’s rear facing entrance, violates the Bailey’s Crossroads comprehensive plan.
• Former Mason District Planning Commissioner Janet Hall recommended denial of the plan.
• County staff recommended denying the plan.
Among other important concerns is a design for a dangerous shopping center street entryway directly across from the driveway of Washington Street Lot 8, the home of a 93-year old woman.
The developer says CVS won’t build unless they get their drive-through, which is projected to be 15 percent of the store’s business. However, Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay noted that when he told CVS that a drive-through violated the comprehensive plan, a store was built without a drive-through.
Mason District’s Supervisor would do well to follow the precedent set in the Lee District rather than give developers too much latitude. Are we so desperate for redevelopment that we would approve anything just to get something?
Lightweight Construction Dangers Are Real
I read with interest the article recently published on lightweight construction in residential properties. I could not agree more with Mr. Doug Fraser that residential sprinklers are the first line of defense. The actions by the Virginia legislature to remove a life-safety system, residential sprinklers, from the minimum code when they adopted it was a disservice to the population of Virginia. The fact local and state government officials, who are sworn to protect the public, supported or advocated this action is an even greater affront.
These actions were not limited to just residential sprinklers. As the article clearly identifies, the use of engineered building products have placed fire fighters at greater risk in the event of fire. This type of construction also places residents at risk as laboratory tests have shown these buildings may collapse even if there is a tenable atmosphere, meaning the occupant could still escape.
The article discusses multi-family occupancies where there is a requirement to protect the floors and ceilings with a one-hour fire rating. But many homes greater than 3,000 square feet are being constructed. In one- and two-family homes there was no requirement to protect the floors. As a representative of the International Association of Fire Fighters, we successfully led an effort to require the protection of lightweight engineered structural elements in one- and two-family homes in the 2012 Edition of the International Residential Code. This would provide additional protection in these structures for the responding fire fighters and the occupants.
The risks have been so well identified that representatives of the National Association of Home Builders co-authored, with the fire service, the code change proposal that was adopted requiring this protection. Unfortunately local builders and local code officials have led an effort to block the adoption of this minimum requirement. If we are going to continue to eliminate basic minimum safety requirements from our minimum codes what will we be left with? Where were our officials sworn to protect the public when these removals were occurring? These are questions yet to be answered.
International Association Of Fire Fighters
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