Photo: Steve Thurston
The Planning Commission’s decision last night to forward the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan to the county board met with some mixed reaction among the people from the eastern-most neighborhoods in the plan. Residents of two neighborhoods--Foxcroft Heights and Arlington View--have expressed concern about the speed that the plan has come upon them and the encroaching density of taller buildings.
Some residents of the Foxcroft neighborhood wanted the plan for their neighborhood thrown out completely as it allows some taller buildings on three sides of their neighborhood and "walls them in," while residents of Arlington View just want more time to review the plan.
Neither group got exactly what they wanted from the commission, but both got something.
In the discussion, the planning commission realized that they were working with smaller, historic neighborhoods and some care must be taken in order to keep the character of those neighborhoods. They also spent time talking about the fact that these two neighborhoods would be the "eastern gateway" neighborhoods for the Columbia Pike redevelopment, sitting as they do across Columbia Pike from one another near the the intersection with Washington Boulevard.
The commission voted to remove zoning for taller buildings from S. Orme Street in Foxcroft Heights, but keep the taller buildings on Columbia Pike.
Also, the commission encouraged staff to keep working with leaders in the Arlington View neighborhood as had been encouraged last month when the plan was advertised by the county board.
Arlington View’s Brenda Cox, who has been active in the discussion, said she was happy that the Planning Commission recognized the need for more discussion. Also, on Thursday morning, her community held a walking tour with county board member Chris Zimmerman. She said that went well and assuaged some of her fears.
On Wednesday, the first day of the commission’s consideration of the plan, Cox had said her community wanted to do their part to help plan for the future, but they "strongly believe that county staff must do some more one-on-one work with us."
Her neighbor, Robin Patterson lives in the George Washington Carver co-operative. She was less convinced by the talk at the front of the room.
"I hear that. I hear that, but I don't know how much confidence I have in it,” she said of the commission’s decision. She said that she was afraid that a plan etches a policy in stone, but she is not sure yet what that policy means for her neighborhood.