The Arlington Chamber strongly supports Items 58 and 59 on the Agenda, Zoning amendments to establish regulations for outdoor cafes in public rights-of-way and on private property. We find this a welcome development to our restaurant members, as they will finally have the means to apply for the permanent retention of their Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas (TOSAs) that were granted due to pandemic-era temporary rules. This process will allow for TOSA operators to plan for their long-term future with outdoor dining as a revenue source, which kept many restaurants alive during the pandemic. However, the Chamber is concerned by the two-month gap between the expiration of the temporary rules and the adoption of the new permitting process for permanent outdoor seating areas. The Chamber is thankful that the County has emphasized that TOSAs will still be allowed to operate in the interim provided that applicants work in good faith. We are willing and able to work with the County and engage with our restaurant members over this period to ensure that this process is as a smooth as possible for TOSA operators.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports the adoption of the Sunrise Senior Living Special General Land Use Plan (GLUP) Study document, and the advertisement of public hearings for the Sunrise North Glebe Road GLUP Amendment.The proposed project will provide a much-needed increase of 35 additional units in a conveniently accessible location in North Arlington. Northern Virginia currently faces a shortage of senior housing units, and this project would help address this issue. We strongly urge the County Board to vote for the document and for the advertising of the public hearings. We also ask that the Board support the Sunrise North Glebe project at its public hearings and the subsequent steps towards its final adoption.
The Arlington Chamber requested that the County remove Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) accreditation as a mandatory requirement for the restaurants within the Clarendon Live Entertainment Group (CLEG). Until last year, ARI accreditation was an optional program open to all restaurants, and several Chamber members who had joined the program have expressed positive results. However, the Chamber is concerned with the program being a mandate for all, and is asking the County restore its previous status as an optional initiative. The Chamber is concerned that based on input from a member restaurant that the standards in ARI can confuse employers, and may not be necessarily beneficial to every single affected restaurant. The Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with the County to create a solution.
The Chamber supports the County Board in voting for a Request to advertise public hearings on the Missing Middle Housing ordinance, which is a necessary step toward the adoption of the ordinance. The Chamber supports the goals of the Missing Middle Housing Ordinance but views it as merely one part of a larger effort to ensure there is enough attainable housing in Arlington for its residents and workforce. The Chamber also urges the County to promote flexibility, and not adopt the cap on permits that are being considered.
The Arlington Chamber strongly supports proposed amendments to the Arlington Zoning Ordinance to permit the creation of urban universities, animal boarding, urban agriculture, artisan beverage facilities, and workshops within Arlington. These amendments are part of the Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative, which is a necessary step in Arlington modernizing its Zoning Ordinance to attract the businesses of the 21st century that weren’t foreseen when zoning regulations were originally written. The Chamber commends the County Manager and Staff for moving forward with the Initiative, and hopes that the County Board will adopt the amendments at their upcoming meeting.
The Chamber strongly supports proposed amendments to the Arlington Zoning Ordinance to permit the construction of micro-fulfillment centers. The Chamber commends the County Manager and Staff for moving forward with much-needed Zoning changes, known as the Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative, that will enable Arlington to attract businesses in new and emerging sectors like micro-fulfillment companies, dog boarding, edge data centers and breweries. The Chamber also Requests to Advertise (RTAs) for the next Phases of the Initiative, as the RTAs will be considered at the upcoming County Board meeting.
The Chamber sent a letter to the Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development expressing concern that CPHD has proposed a 4% increase in fees without offering an increase in service levels.
The Chamber showed support of the Arlington Public Schools plan to hire a Partnership Coordinator for Fiscal Year 2022. The Chamber believes that this individual will be well-positioned to identify work-based learning opportunities and would provide leadership in developing comprehensive career pathways for students. The educational return on investing in this position will be significant.
The Chamber sent a letter to Arlington Public Schools suggesting that the reconfiguring of school spaces for social distancing provides a unique way to support the community through expanded child care. An expanded child care plan can phase expansions based on families’ child care needs, for example, prioritizing children of healthcare workers and children of parents whose jobs do not allow them to telework.
The Chamber sent a letter to the County Board expressing concerns regarding the new Arlington County Ordinance Requiring Physical Distancing on Public Sidewalks. The hastily developed ordinance has led to confusion, presents enforcement challenges, and has left the community unclear on how it will be applied.
The Chamber asked the County Board to reject a proposed change in how the Noise Control Ordinance is enforced. Although Arlington County staff have assured the business community that it plans to take steps to engage businesses before enforcing penalties, the proposed text does not provide any guarantee against the ordinance being used in a more punitive manner.
The Chamber encouraged Arlington County to streamline the process for permitting and deploying small wireless facilities, including allowing providers for file location permits during a technology pilot phase, to avoid delays in enhancing Arlington's digital infrastructure.
The Chamber wrote a letter to the Arlington County Board commending the Board on its efforts to serve the Arlington community during the coronavirus pandemic and to make specific policy suggestions. To further support the community during this time, the Chamber requested that the Board allocate more funds to Arlington Economic Development’s grants for small businesses, defer tax payments, and extend deadlines for permits and plans. The Chamber looks forward to working with the Board on these matters and to continue its strong partnership with the Board to see the community through this crisis.
The Chamber is asking the County Board to delay holding a hearing on a change to the Arlington County Noise Control Ordinance. The County has not sufficiently engaged with affected stakeholders, such as restaurants, to learn about possible consequences of this action and so it is not yet ready to consider the change. The Chamber will support moving ahead with a hearing once the County does the necessary engagement with stakeholders, including businesses.
The Chamber sent a letter to the County Board expressing concern that Arlington County government is not offering a faster turn-around time for permits filed via the new Permit Arlington online system, despite an increase in technology fees with the system’s launch.
The County Board is poised to take the next step in the process for deploying small wireless cells in Arlington. Small cell facilities support wireless coverage and demand for mobile data in dense areas, and are essential in preparing Arlington for the next generation of technology. In October, the Chamber sent a letter to the County Board that called for County staff to create a process for small cell deployment. This letter builds on that note, encouraging the Board to advertise of a public hearing on small cell deployment process in July. At that July hearing, the County Board will be able to remove the current restrictions on the installation and maintenance of small cell facilities on streetlight poles.
Building on the success of the Chamber’s February letter to keep open Special GLUP Study applications, the Chamber sent another letter to the County Board calling for continued engagement on developing a new Special GLUP Study process. The Chamber asked the County Board to direct continued work between County staff and business stakeholders on developing the new process and for a guarantee that the new process will be adopted only with the County Board’s approval. We hope with continued engagement to arrive at a process that ensures that all Special GLUP Study applications are guaranteed a full review in a timely manner to deliver the best development outcomes for Arlington.
In a letter to Long Range Planning Committee Chair Nancy Iacomini, the Chamber encouraged the committee to reject County staff’s proposed revisions to the Special GLUP Study Process. Special GLUP Studies are necessary for development projects that require an amendment to the County’s General Land Use Plan (GLUP). The proposal, which has been made with insufficient input from the business community, will likely have the unintended consequence of hindering economic development in Arlington. Consequently, the Chamber encourages the County to continue the current Special GLUP Study process, and to add resources to conduct them in a timely manner.
In a letter to County Board Chair Katie Cristol, the Chamber encouraged Arlington County to take a proactive approach in finalizing the process for the deployment of small cell wireless antennas. Small cells antennas are a low profile, compact, and unobtrusive technology that will provide a better experience for enhanced mobile networks, including 5G. Streamlining and standardizing the permitting process for the installation of small cell wireless antennas will ensure that Arlington remains a leader in the use of new technology.
In a letter to the Arlington County Board, the Chamber expresses its support of the proposed changes to both the site plan review process and the permitting process that are being implemented by the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD).