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Thursday, December 8, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: County leaders not acting in good faith on Missing Middle

Letter: County leaders not acting in good faith on Missing Middle

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Editor: I attended the Sept. 17 County Board meeting, and I thought board member Christian Dorsey’s comments were well-intended but off the mark.
In asking why we can’t get together and have a conversation about Missing Middle housing, Dorsey said it seems the zealots both pro and con on this issue are controlling the discussion.

Let me count the ways:

• We were told by County Board members when this first started there would be no zoning changes. Now everything related to single-family zoning is proposed to change.

• A study was commissioned, then a sales job was executed by government staff.

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• Community engagement was a scam – 151,000 postcards and pop-ups provided high-fives between staff member Erica Moore and Dorsey at the July 12 work session. Yet six weeks since I asked the board where the postcards were sent, I am still waiting for a FOIA response. Based on my personal experience, none was sent to my neighborhood or maybe anywhere in heavily single-family ZIP 22207. I had to get a copy of the postcard to see what was sent – it was not specific, informative nor memorable.

• Many residents still think this is for affordable housing. A survey conducted of more than 320 homes was 4:1 against Missing Middle housing. Even those supporting it want to see economic- and environmental-impact studies carried out before moving ahead.

• Rejection of the Civic Federation’s request to extend comment period, and later dismissal of any idea other than unlimited upzoning at a County Board work session.

Worst of all, there is there is no real plan! The “plan” is to throw out single-family zoning and stand back to see what happens. That is no plan.

I could go on, but if County Board members listen at the community-engagement sessions, many real issues on this topic will be brought up.
To Mr. Dorsey’s point – why can’t we meet and discuss this without zealots? Because we have lost trust in the County Board and its staff. We were told one thing; they are doing another.

I am afraid we don’t believe county leadership is dealing in good faith. I suggest the board work to regain the trust it has squandered. Then we might have a good discussion.

The community expects better of its elected officials, and is angry at how this has been handled.

R.R. McNamara, Arlington

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