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August 17, 2016

Westover Historic Preservation: Efforts move ahead to preserve threatened buildings

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The county government is moving ahead with its review of the petition to designate Westover Village as a historic district. The Historic Affairs Landmark Review Board (HALRB) will shortly announce a public hearing next month in September 2016 allowing the public to speak about this historic designation review. Approximately 2-3 months after the HALRB completes this process. the Arlington County Board will hold follow up public hearing.

Greens and neighborhood residents will shortly deliver petitions the county government with over 100 signatures from Arlington residents calling for historic designation of Westover Village and a halt to more demolitions of buildings. There is still concern over more demolitions since two more apartment buildings appear about to be demolished to make way for more luxury townhouses. Construction permits have been filed with Arlington County for two buildings on North 10th Road near the Westover Park.

In the first week of August, an anonymous flyer was taped to the doors of detached houses in the Westover area with a series of erroneous claims against historic designation, such as owners would be unable to make any changes to their properties, historic designation would reduce the property value, historic designation discriminates against owners, and that property owners actually vote to approve or disapprove designation. All of these allegations are false. The authors of the flyer were anonymous and provided no substantiation of these claims which are contrary to county ordinance and national historic patterns.

In fact, owners may make exterior changes to their properties after approval from the county government (interior changes are permissible without permit); studies of historic districts indicate that designation raises property values; historic designation is a zoning procedure long upheld by the U.S. and Virginia Supreme Courts; and only members of the HALRB and the county board vote to approve or disapprove historic designation. Renters, neighbors, historians, property owners, and other Arlington residents may voice their opinions, but none actually vote.

Within the boundaries of the Westover Village, there are about 2,200 residents (based on the 2010 Census), of whom about 67 percent are renters and only 29 percent are owner-occupiers. About half of the households in Westover are single person-households; another nearly 25 percent are two-person households. Renters live not only in the 700 apartments, but also rent some of the detached houses and duplexes as well. Thus in the community of Westover Village, it is the well being of the tenants that is the most pressing concern for this community.

Greens and neighborhood residents will shortly be distributing a fact sheet to all of the 2,200 residents of Westover Village. A September community picnic is being planned at which Westover tenants and community supporters can gather for questions and for a celebration of the great community of Westover.

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