Faced with overwhelming opposition from residents of Arlington's Colonial Terrace neighborhood and a near-certain rejection of its proposal by the County Board, an Alexandria development firm has withdrawn plans for a high-rise rental project in the shadow of Rosslyn skyscrapers.
"We won the battle," said Colonial Terrace resident Charles H. Gander, who helped organize neighborhood opposition to the proposal from Crow, Terwillinger and Michaux Inc. to build a 12-story, 256-unit rental building at the intersection of Colonial Terrace and N. Ode Street.
It was the fifth time since 1967 that Colonial Terrace neighbors have mounted a drive against plans for their tiny, tree-shaded neighborhood that developers have eyed as an ideal spot for extending Rosslyn's skyscrapers.
But the county, with its policy of stemming the encroachment of high-rises into low-rise residential areas, has consistently denied developers' applications for buildings that would be more than six stories, the maximum height allowed in the Colonial Terrace neighborhood under long-established county zoning and land use designations.
Although the promise of adding another rental building to Arlington's housing stock was attractive, County Board members sent out strong signals to the developer and the public that the plan, as proposed, was unacceptable.
"Although it doesn't seem fair to make a decision without the whole hearing process going on," County Board member Ellen M. Bozman said this week, "we have been so clear through the years about our position on Colonial Terrace that we felt comfortable about reacting publicly."
"I would hope," Bozman added, "that in the future investors would read the history of the area carefully enough so that when they come forward with other plans the plans would fit in with the parameters the county has set up there."
"We're very pleased that the county has looked at the picture the same way we have," said Colonial Terrace resident Gander. "There's room for development here, but within the guideline of the six-story limit. Hopefully, other developers in the future will have learned that the County Board means business and will lay off."
Neighborhood residents had complained that the project, if approved, would have sent a signal to others planning developments in Arlington that the county's long-held zoning and land use policies would not be upheld.
A representative of the development firm could not be reached for comment.