Letters to the Editor: March 31 – April 6, 2016
Developers in it for Profits, Not the Common Good
I am heartened to see the increasing number of opposing letters to the editor and negative comments on the ever-increasing number of new commercial projects in our city. Sadly, it seems many of our Falls Church City Council members are immune to the increasing discontent of the residents.
I am not against progress but the new Broad, Washington and Mason Row projects are the wrong type of design for our quiet, small neighborhoods. They are massive, monolithic warehouse style designs. Each of these complexes will be up to 75 feet high, with over 320 apartment units in each, several floors of underground parking, yet another grocery store and a movie theater.
It seems it’s open season for developers to build up every corner of our City. Height limits are breached, the interests of residents trampled while developers are reaping rewards from colossal buildings bordering residential neighborhoods. We’ve arrived at a position, where developers are dictating our urban planning – not for the common good, but for their profits.
Did you know that developers expect preferential treatment if they offer proffers to the City? All projects in our city are being granted variances (permission to ignore some zoning rules) in return for dubious financial benefits for the city. For securing zoning changes and special exception heights the developers promise economic contributions to the local authorities. Vastly inflated density, a few extra floors and smaller buffer zones from residential areas are politically justified as being in the public interest, if it means a handful of trees will be planted on the street or a few extra dollars to the public schools. It is a system that is all too open to political pressure, given that any city official who advises against a new development will be tagged as “anti-growth.”
Any new zoning changes can be contentious and need to involve community input.
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