Fair and equitable compensation, affordable housing and an effort to rename Lee Highway were all topics under consideration at the June regular meeting of the Arlington County Board. Additionally, the Board took several actions to help improve public safety and provide for green space around the County. This was the first in-person meeting of the Arlington County Board since the beginning of the pandemic emergency in March 2020. The Board presented a hybrid meeting, offering the opportunity for staff and the public to participate online as well as in-person.
“We have learned so much over the last year about ensuring that our County policies and landmarks reflect our ideals and with how to value all of our residents and workers,” said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board. “The actions we took today demonstrate our commitment to our residents, our workforce, economic recovery, our parks and our community’s shared goal of being an inclusive, welcoming place for all.”
Consideration of Collective Bargaining and Implementation of Prevailing Wage
The Board voted unanimously to authorize advertisement of a public hearing in July on an ordinance that would allow collective bargaining for County employees. The Commonwealth gave localities the option to establish collective bargaining last year, and two options will be considered at the upcoming public hearing. While the County and the employee associations have reached consensus for the bulk of the ordinance, they differ on a few key areas centered on the scope of bargaining and how disagreements would be resolved. By advertising both sets of language, the Board will be able to adopt a final ordinance in July that can reflect the approach recommended by the Manager and the employee associations on each of the parts of the ordinance still under discussion.
The Board also voted 5-0 to authorize advertisement of a public hearing to consider proposed amendments to the County purchasing resolution to adopt prevailing wage provisions. Prevailing wage rates will be determined by the Virginia Commissioner of Labor and Industry on the basis of applicable prevailing wage rate determinations made by the U.S. Secretary of Labor under the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act, which has long required the payment of prevailing wages on construction contracts funded in part or in whole with Federal dollars. This measure will ensure that employees working on these construction projects are compensated at prevailing wage as others within the area, with final consideration of the ordinance set for July.
Renaming of U.S. Rt 29/Lee Highway
Stating broad support for the motion but also a desire for additional community engagement and time to refine cost estimates, the Board voted 5-0 to defer adoption of a proposed ordinance and resolution that would rename U.S. Route 29, currently known as Lee Highway, to Langston Boulevard. The renaming would cover the boundaries of Arlington County between North Lynn Street to the border with the City of Falls Church. Final consideration of the renaming will occur in July.
Development Projects to Add Affordable Housing, Residential Units, Environmental Sustainability and Retail in the County
In its ongoing commitment to affordable housing, the Board approved allocation of nearly $16 million from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) to fund a loan to APAH for the development and construction of Ballston Station Apartments, a proposed 8-story residential development that will contain a total of 144 new committed affordable units and a daycare facility in addition to the Central United Methodist Church already on the site. This loan is in addition to the $3 million allocated to APAH in September 2019 for the project, bringing the total loan to approximately $19 million.
A total of 12 on-site committed affordable units were also part of a site plan amendment at 1901 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, known as the Rosslyn RCA site. The Board voted to approve this plan to allow construction of a 423-unit, 27-story residential apartment building with ground floor retail and above and below grade parking. As part of the redevelopment, developer JAG DMV also plans to remove the internal loop roads currently on the site as well as an existing skywalk over North Moore Street that connects the RCA building to the Rosslyn Gateway site. Other community benefits are planned, including a contribution to open space improvements, LEED Gold green building certification, transportation improvements, a public art fund contribution and a new Capital Bikeshare station.
The Board voted to approve a zoning ordinance amendment and site plan amendment for the Clarendon West development project that would create more gradual height transitions with the surrounding neighborhood and increase the number of residential units from 247 to 267. The project is consistent with the intent of the Clarendon Sector Plan.
Honoring Erik Gutshall
Citing his dedication to the community and to public service, the Board approved the dedication of a Memorial Plaque to honor the late Erik Gutshall, who served on the County Board from 2017 until shortly before his passing in early 2020. The plaque, originally proposed by the Lyon Park Citizens Association, will be placed in Zitkala-Ša Park to memorialize Gutshall’s public service and contributions to Arlington County. The memorial plaque will be unveiled with a formal dedication ceremony at a later date.
Read more about these and other items in the staff reports.