Potential Tree Loss from Crystal City Waterpark renovation

On January 26th Aurora Highlands Civic Association representative Natasha Atkins presented testimony to the County Board on the proposed Crystal City Waterpark renovation. Fortunately, the project has been deferred a couple of months, largely because of a dangerous conflict between pedestrians and bikes in the new design.There will be meetings with civic association members, along with others representing the pedestrian, cycling, and transportation commissions/committees.¬† It is hoped that the developer (JBG) and County Manager will include some changes for trees/green space. This case brings into focus concerns about “minor” site plan amendments creating major problems and the need for better outreach to citizens before plans are set in place. Many people who would ordinarily be part of a Site Plan Review Committee are not consulted for these “minor” amendments.

In this case the problems identified by the AHCA  include:

  • Significant tree loss and lack of green space
  • Expected loss of replacement trees without clear plans to assure longevity and health
  • Questionable choices of tree species given hot local conditions
  • Cumulative loss of trees in the area due to intensive development

You can read her full testimony here.  To tell the County Board your thoughts on this project and trees in general email them at countyboard@arlingtonva.us.

SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATION @ 2437 N. UTAH ST. – DONALDSON RUN

On February 8th, ATAG is organized a peaceful protest against the imminent cutting of a majestic willow oak tree (53 inches diameter) that is on a property being developed by a construction company.¬† Entreaties by neighbors and ATAG have fallen on deaf ears¬† Today’s action took place in the Donaldson Run neighborhood which still boasts a very healthy tree canopy, but is also suffering from rapid development that is felling our green giants!

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) is protesting the removal of several trees, but particularly a very large tree at 2347 N. Utah Street.   ATAG can document dozens of similar cases we have engaged on over the past two years, with only 2-3 trees saved out of dozens of cases; we are fed up that nothing ever changes and the county gives lip service to caring about the environment.

Arlington County is facilitating/encouraging development, without adequate tree protection rules.  The County has failed to aggressively advocate for state legislation that would give them more power to regulate tree loss. With land prices so high, speculative development is creating a huge tree loss due to accelerated construction in neighborhoods. The county has approved removing this willow oak even though we believe it could be saved as a new home is built.  ATAG and a nearby neighbor have lobbied the builder and the County.  Both say the tree cannot/will not be saved.

Let the County know how you feel about these developments by emailing them at CountyBoard@arlingtonva.us and the County Manager Mark Schwartz at mschwartz@arlingtonva.us

URGENT – Proposed Virginia Legislation for Trees – How YOU can help NOW

The Virginia Conservation Network and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are urging Virginians to take action quickly to support their efforts to enact legislation that will enhance the ability of local jurisdictions to preserve and grow their tree canopies.

The Virginia Conservation Network is urging citizens to support HB 2042, a new tree bill  being introduced by Delegate Nancy Guy and three others in the Virginia legislature. Unlike with the U.S. Congress, it is permissible to lobby representatives who are not from your district.  A list of relevant delegates, their emails, and possible talking points is provided below.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging Virginia legislators in general to “Provide additional authority to localities to conserve and enhance Virginia‚Äôs dwindling tree canopy”. In this abbreviated session, legislators will need to hear from you immediately and directly about the importance of trees.¬† Contact your local representatives and let them know you care about this issue. To learn more go to the CBF blog.

Please make your voice heard today!

Talking points from the Virginia Conservation Network:

Reasons to support HB 2042: The current statute limits localities‚Äô authority to preserve and conserve their tree canopies. This bill enhances their ability to increase their tree canopies in several specific circumstances: (i) to generate pollution reduction credits through installation of an approved Urban Tree Canopy Expansion best management practice (BMP) or other approved BMP for compliance with the locality’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit; (ii) to help address local flooding in any development project located in a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area; (iii) in any development project located in an area that prior to the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. ¬ß 3601 et seq., was redlined or graded “D” by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation; and (iv) to ensure conformity with the comprehensive plan adopted by the locality.

Overview: Virginia limits the percentage of trees that local governments can require developers to replace or conserve in the process of development. Depending on zoning, those caps range from 10-30%. HB2042 enables localities to adopt higher replacement percentages where trees are used to meet water quality, flooding management, and equity goals.

The bill also expands statewide the applicability of the tree preservation statute, Va. Code 15.2-961.1.  The provisions in this statute allow local governments to establish a tree fund or tree bank, providing offsite options for developers unable to achieve the canopy replacement percentages onsite. Tree fund fees collected can be used to plant trees on municipal property or support non-profits conservation groups in planting trees on private property.

Virginia is losing 16,000 acres of trees per year to development and disease. Their loss removes their ability to capture carbon and harmful particulates, reduce flooding, provide habitat, improve water quality and quality of life.

Title Last First District Party Email Phone
Delegate Kory (Chair) Kaye 38 D DelKKory@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1038
Delegate Heretick (Vice-Chair) Steve E. 79 D DelSHeretick@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1079
Delegate Murphy Kathleen 34 D DelKMurphy@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1034
Delegate Jones Jay C. 89 D DelJJones@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1089
Delegate Gooditis Gwendolyn W.  (Wendy) 10 D DelWGooditis@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1010
Delegate Carter Lee J. 50 D DelLCarter@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1050
Delegate Roem Danica A. 13 D DelDRoem@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1013
Delegate Samirah Ibraeem S. 86 D DelISamirah@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1086
Delegate Subramanyam Suhas 87 D DelSSubramanyam@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1087
Delegate Mugler Martha M. 91 D DelMMugler@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1091
Delegate Askew Alex Q. 85 D DelAAskew@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1085
Delegate Guy Nancy D. 83 D DelNGuy@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1083
Delegate Jenkins Clinton L. 76 D DelCJenkins@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1076
Delegate Poindexter Charles D. 9 R DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1009
Delegate Morefield James W. 3 R DelJMorefield@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1003
Delegate Hodges Keith M. 98 R DelKHodges@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1098
Delegate Leftwich James A. “Jay” 78 R DelJLeftwich@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1078
Delegate Campbell Jeffrey L. 6 R DelJCampbell@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1006
Delegate LaRock Dave A. 33 R DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1033
Delegate McNamara Joseph P. 8 R DelJMcNamara@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1008
Delegate Coyner Carrie E. 62 R DelCCoyner@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1062
Delegate Wyatt Scott 97 R DelSWyatt@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1097