The Arlington County Board took action at its May meeting to modernize public safety and improve police and community relations, add housing and development in Crystal City, and improve its tree canopy, among others.
“The Board took critical steps to continue the work to improve police and community relations by removing an unnecessary failure to identify part of the Arlington County Code that was recommended for removal by the Police Practices Group and by accepting a grant for public safety wellness and mental health from a foundation,” said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board. “We also approved a significant redevelopment of a block in Crystal City that will help with housing and continued our commitment to protecting and enhancing Arlington’s natural resources by piloting a stronger approach to protecting valuable canopy trees.”
Implementing a Police Practices Group Recommendation, Investing in Public Safety Wellness, and Fire Station 8
After a seven-month study by the Police Practices Group and work by the County Manager and the Arlington County Police Department, the Board voted 5-0 to authorize the advertisement of a public hearing to repeal, reenact and recodify Chapter 17 of the Arlington County Code. As part of its report, the Police Practices Group recommended repealing Arlington County Code §17-13(C) Identification (refusal to identify oneself at the request of a police officer). Additionally, the closer look at Chapter 17 identified the need to update other provisions that contain outdated references to state statutes, remove provisions conflicting with state and federal laws, and modernize to reflect current practice. Sections 17-16 and 17-17 were left intact in the Code through the Board’s action. More information is available in the staff report; scroll to Item No. 32 on the agenda. On Tuesday, May 18, the Board will consider an ordinance to enact a citizens’ review board for the Arlington County Police Department.
The Board also accepted a donation of services that will help with the well-being and mental health of our public safety officers. The donation comes from the Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health to improve services and resources for the mental health and wellness of Arlington County Police. The Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health is a private nonprofit organization recognized for its behavioral health focus, and it would like to partner with Arlington County Police Department and donate services to conduct research on the development and efficacy of a holistic behavioral wellness model for Arlington County police officers that can also serve as a template for public safety agencies around the country. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 23 on the agenda.
The Board approved a nearly $2.9 M increase in the construction contract for Fire Station 8 (4845 Lee Highway) for a total authorization of nearly $20M including contingency. Additional funding comes from bond premium and will be reflected in the CIP. Fire Station 8 will be the first County building with a Biosolar green roof. EV charging and utility undergrounding are also highlighted efforts. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 19 on the agenda.
Additional Housing and Community Development in Crystal City
The Board voted 5-0 to approve a site plan and several associated actions that would allow for added density in the redevelopment at the Crystal Plaza site at 2001 S. Clark Street. The plan will create two residential towers with a total of 758 dwelling units as well as ground floor retail in each tower. Additionally, the project will provide a new segment of South Bell Street, a replaced segment of The Underground pedestrian concourse beneath the site, and a new 7,200 sq. ft. open space known as a Pedestrian Connection. This Crystal City Block Plan is consistent with Crystal City Sector Plan goals and provides guidance to supplement and update the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan for this site. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 30 on the agenda.
Expansion to Protect Arlington’s Tree Canopy
The Board approved adjustments to the existing criteria for the EcoAction Arlington Tree Canopy Fund program, administered in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Recreation. These adjustments allow for an exploratory project that will allow valuable mature trees to be maintained with the goal of developing a process for reviewing and administering maintenance grants so the County can conserve additional tree canopy. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 22 on the agenda.