Intimidating Actions

I have known James J. Luby, son of Alexandria School Board member Melissa W. Luby, since he was a child ["Va. School Official's Son Charged in Vandalism Case," Metro, July 15]. He has worked for me during his summer breaks for the past three years. He is any neighbor's idea of a good kid.

James Boissonnault's decision to press charges against Jimmy for destruction of property for the egging of his home is certainly within his rights. But in my mind, it is mean-spirited and hypocritical.

The egging of Boissonnault's home was a childish attempt by Jimmy to defend his mother's honor. Boissonnault's take on the matter is more sinister: He said it was a thuggish attempt to "intimidate me and my family."

Jimmy Luby is no thug; he's a teenager. Teenagers do dumb things. To acknowledge his wrongdoing, Jimmy and his parents did the small-town thing: They went to Boissonnault's house and apologized. Boissonnault did the big-city thing: He called the police and the press.

Boissonnault claims that he does not blame Melissa Luby for her son's actions. But by having her son arrested and alerting both the television and print media, it is not a stretch to assume that Boissonnault is engaging in a little intimidation of his own and that this prosecution is a backhanded attempt to further his goal of having Melissa Luby removed from the Alexandria School Board.

William Cromley


High-Rise a Low Blow

Imagine you live in a house in a quiet neighborhood. Then you wake up one morning and find a high-rise apartment building in your front yard. Well, that's how I feel.

There is an ongoing battle in Arlington over First Baptist Church of Clarendon, which wants to tear down its historic building to construct a 103-foot-high, 118-unit church/housing complex. I am one of numerous Arlington residents who insist that the County Board deny the application unless it complies with heights dictated by existing zoning laws.

The name for the complex, "Views at Clarendon," demonstrates its irony and hypocrisy -- everybody around the building would lose their view of the sky and stare directly at the new structure. The project would require the County Board to drastically change the existing zoning laws and land-use plan to shoehorn the project into a triangular lot that occupies less than one acre. Based on last week's County Board meeting, this is a real possibility.

The proposed building would be a financial fiasco. The church is dwindling in size -- the average service has 30 people. The church says it must construct this building to generate rental income in order to survive. It intends to set aside 45 percent of the units as affordable housing, which is the one component that we all find to be positive. But this project is the most convoluted scheme I have seen to achieve such a goal, and hides the fact that the priority of the church is to generate enough income to support itself and to remain in its present location.

I hope that the County Board considers the interests of long-standing residents of the neighborhood as a priority, declines to set a harmful rezoning precedent and permits the church to build only within the 55-foot height permitted by existing zoning laws.

Steven Kaufman