The Washington area's regional planning agency has unanimously condemned the area's federal planning agency for trying to limit the growth of Arlington skyscrapers that are changing the skyline of the nation's capital.
In an unusually long and emotional presentation the staff of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Thursday accused the National Capital Planning Commission of exceeding its authority and charged that the proposed height restrictions would cause severe economic losses for Arlington and local developers.
The suggested height limits for future Arlington buildings pose "the gravest . . . most serious threat . . . to local governments in my 15 years at COG," executive director Walter A. Scheiber said.
Reginald Griffith, executive director of NCPC, said after the meeting he was "disappointed" at the attack on his agency, which he insisted is proposing only "voluntary guidelines" that he hoped Arlington would consider in order to protect the national monuments around the Mall. Griffith disputed charges that NCPC wants to "prohibit federal agencies from leasing space" in Arlington's high-rise office buildings and that his agency is now attempting to influence development in Tysons Corner, Reston and around the suburbs, as claimed by Scheiber.
Griffith said his agency, which participated last year in an unsuccessful lawsuit aimed at blocking the construction of two large Rosslyn office buildings, would recommend height limits for buildings on the high Arlington ridge visible from the Mall. "But local governments wouldn't have to follow the plan, although we hope they would. And federal agencies wouldn't have to follow the plan, although we hope they would."
Griffith denied Scheiber's charge that NCPC is attempting to restrict suburban development at Tyson's Corner or anywhere else. The federal agency is required by law to comment on any proposed federal construction in the Washington area and construction that would have an adverse impact on area federal parks and property.