A proposal to rezone the last two single-family homes on an otherwise commercial stretch of Lee Highway in Arlington has aroused vehement neighborhood opposition.
The county Planning Commission last week split evenly on a motion to deny the rezoning of adjoining homes at 5321 and 5325 Lee Hwy. Some commissioners expressed doubts that a denial could survive a court challenge.
The County Board is scheduled to consider the rezoning at its meeting Saturday. The properties front Lee Highway between North George Mason Drive and North Harrison Street.
The land was once part of the Comley Tract, where, at the beginning of the century, George A. Comley ran a well-known nursery and greenhouse. The land is now held by his descendants, V. Louise Wilson and her sons Leroy G. Wilson and Robert A. Wilson.
In a letter to the County Board, Frank L. Ball Jr., attorney for the Wilsons, argued that keeping the properties residential makes little sense. The two homes are "just about completely surrounded by commercially zoned and used property," said Ball.
To one side is the Harrison Street Shopping Center. To the other side are medical offices. A 7-Eleven convenience store is at the end of the block. "We do believe we are entitled to the same zoning that surrounds us," said Ball.
County planners agreed, saying in a report that it is "unrealistic" to retain the existing residential zoning of the properties. But they suggested that any development should be under 45 feet high and that landscaping for a commercial project should be designed to buffer the residences behind the properties.
More than 20 residents of the nearby Garden City neighborhood attending the meeting disagreed with the proposed rezoning. Ruth Camden, president of the Northwest Arlington Civic Association, said the group opposes additional commercial development in the area.
In a letter to the board, the association also suggested that a cluster of single-family homes could be built on the site or the land could be rezoned for a town house development. William G. Talbot, who has lived in the area for nine years, said in a letter that existing developments "already have a definite negative impact on surrounding homes by increasing crime, traffic pollution, noise, trash and by reducing privacy."
About 25 residents signed a petition to the County Board expressing concern about the rezoning. "We have already truly paid our dues for Arlington's commercial development. There can come a time when the balance tips and the character of a community is irreparably altered, to the loss of the entire county," it said.