Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C.’s Greatest Grinch Moment?




“If you continually give, you will continually have.” Who said that? We at the News-Press don’t know, but we have it printed on a fortune cookie that’s been taped to the wall in our office.

The quote is flanked on either end with a “smiley-face.” It’s been there for years.

In these rough economic times, in particular, giving takes on a different meaning. It is not so much the gift-giving to fulfill the expectations within a particular, relatively well-heeled household, as it becomes giving to those outside traditional comfort zones to help out those with real, basic needs. Certainly, it seems that at least the usual levels of gift-giving will be sharply curtailed this holiday season as all the evidence points to retail sales at the lowest levels in many a year.

Unfortunately, the same wallet-tightening pull back seems to be going on in the area of charitable giving. It would be heartening, if for every dollar less spent on the usual gift-buying, half or a third of the savings would be turned over to some good cause for the needy.

It is ironic in the case of Falls Church this holiday season that the economic hard times are being used as the reason by some in the local government to deny a major affordable housing project. As a result, a project that could provide 174 new affordable dwelling units is in serious jeopardy of failure. A more enlightened and compassionate point of view, certainly held by many on the City Council and in City Hall, would note that economic downturns are precisely when such projects should go forward, especially as, in the current case, it represents a huge bargain to the City with $12 million in tax credits from Richmond and $4.5 million proffer from a developer pitching in.

But now, nothing is going to correct in time the ill-conceived rejection of the project’s site plan by the Planning Commission before the deadline the Falls Church Housing Commission hoped to meet to submit the project as a prime candidate for the tax credits from the Virginia Housing Development Corporation. The Planning Commission, rather than reconsidering its rejection decision earlier this month, even after the offer of further modifications to the project, simply cancelled any further meetings before the New Year. With four new appointments due by Jan. 1 on the seven-member commission, it is highly unlikely that any of the incumbents seeking reappointment will win a majority of votes from the City Council, which reaffirmed its support for the plan with another set of 5-2 votes last week. But even a newly-constituted Planning Commission could not reconsider its site plan decision before Jan. 5 at the earliest, costing the F.C. Housing Corporation and its partners valuable time in their bid to Richmond.

If the Planning Commission’s vote on Dec. 1 to stymie the project causes it to be rejected and fail, then the Commission’s act will go down in Falls Church lore as one of its greatest Grinch moments.

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