An attorney for the Sterling Park Shopping Mall told a committee of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors this week that the shopping center's owners and management will propose by next week a solution to loitering and other problems associated with a video arcade at the center.
The supervisors earlier this month put off a decision on whether to grant Pan Soon Lim, owner of Rag Time Video Arcade, a special exception necessary for her to continue her business at the mall.
During a Nov. 1 public hearing on the special exception application, Loudoun County sheriff's deputies, shopowners at the mall and private citizens complained that the video arcade attracted large numbers of youths who congregated outside the arcade, dealing drugs, fighting with knives and other weapons and harassing people going to other businesses.
But at the Nov. 5 meeting, when the board was scheduled to vote on the matter, Lim, in comments translated by her daughter, told the supervisors that her customers did not cause trouble. She also said that until recently, she believed she had all the necessary permits for operating the video arcade.
County staff members said that Lim is in violation of the law because she did not receive a special exception last April when she purchased the video arcade (formerly called Graffiti's) and moved it to an adjacent store building.
After several board members said that Lim did not appear to understand the situation and that the board should allow time to make sure no language barrier prevented such understanding, the board decided to delay voting on the matter.
This week, attorney Steven Friedman, property manager Jim Stapleton and several other representatives of the shopping mall met with the board's public services committee to discuss problems at the mall.
Although several supervisors said there have been loitering problems at the mall for many years, both Friedman and Stapleton said current problems were the result of youths congregating at the video arcade.
"This seems to be a unique situation, and what the board chooses to do with regard to the special exception . . . may or may not resolve that problem," Friedman told the committee.
But Leesburg supervisor Frank Raflo, chairman of the committee, said he was "a little disturbed . . . you seem to be putting the entire onus on the renters of this property . . . you have a great responsibility as owners of the shopping center."
After committee member Ann Kavanagh of Dulles district suggested the mall management might take responsibility by hiring a private security guard, Friedman said possible solutions might be the hiring of one guard for the entire mall and another guard for the video arcade. " . . . We would be willing to share part of that cost," he said.
After the meeting, Raflo said that if Friedman's proposal reaches the committee by next week, the board would likely act on the special exception application at its Dec. 3 meeting.