An Arlington County Circuit judge has upheld a County Board decision made last February to permit the development of an office, apartment and commercial complex on a site across I-95 from the Pentagon.
Seven members of the Pentagon City Coordinating Committee, a group that opposed the development plan, had filed a suit against the county. They charged that Arlington was not acting to benefit its residents by approving a plan, which they contended would worsen congestion in neighboring streets and increase noise and air pollution in that area. All seven members of the committee who filed the suit live close to the development site.
Judge Paul D. Brown's ruling, handed down last week, some three weeks after the trial for the suit ended, opens the way for construction to begin on the site that is located south of Shirley Highway and north of Crystal City.
When completed, the development will include 2,000 hotel rooms, 1.2 million square feet of office space, 800,000 square feet for commercial use, some 7,150 apartments, a nursing home and 13.5 acres of parkland.
The first phase of construction, including the building of the nursing home, some subsidized housing for the elderly and some low-rise family housing, could begin as early as next spring, according to Dough Fall, planning director for the consulting firm of Dewberry, Nealon and Davis, which devised the development plan.
But first, the County Board must approve a final site plan for that phase of the construction at its Jan. 8 meeting, Fall said.
On Jan. 6, members of the Pentagon City Coordinating Committee are expected to decided whether to appeal the judge's ruling in the Virginia Supreme Court, according to John H. Quinn Jr., one of the committee's directors who brought the suit against the county.
Quinn said that four traffic experts and an air quality expert had all testified at the trial that the County Board "was not promoting the wellbeing of the community" by rezoning the tract, called the Pentagon City site, to permit the present development plan.
William Barnes Lawson, attorney for Cafritz-Tompkins, owners of the 118-acre tract, said the area was previously zoned for mixed use and high density development. "What we did was to offer a unified plan for the development of that area. Under the previous zoning, there was no coordinated plan for development, so development could have taken place piece meal," Lawson said.
In his ruling, Judge Brown said the court could overturn the County Board's decision only if it found that the Board's action had been "unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious."
"The plaintiffs have not proved in terms of dollars that their special property interests will be harmfully affected by the increased traffic," which they argued would result once the complex is constructed, the judge stated.
Completion of the development is not expected until 1990.
The Pentagon City Coordinating Committee was recently involved in a suit in the Alexandria U.S. District Court that halted construction of a 8-mile, six-lane elevated highway through Crystal City.