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ArlingtonOops: Procedural error negates County Board actions

Oops: Procedural error negates County Board actions

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Arlington County Board actions on 14 land-use issues earlier in February were rendered moot when it turned out that public-notification requirements were not met.

As a result, county officials have set a special board meeting to address the most pressing matter, and will push other items on the list back to March.

“This was an unfortunate set of circumstances,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz, outlining the procedural error that necessitated new hearings.
The episode involved “a small mistake with some pretty significant consequences,” County Board Chairman Katie Cristol said.

The items had met state legal-notification requirements by advertising the hearings in a newspaper, but put the wrong date on postings required by the county ordinance to be placed on and around the affected parcels.
The mistake was not caught until after most of the hearings had been conducted.


“Anybody can make an error like that, but we didn’t have redundancy, which is something we are going to address,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to be immediately improving our process . . . so that will not happen again.”

Most of the matters that were impacted by the whoopsie are relatively pro-forma – reviews for live entertainment, signage, etc. – but a number are more consequential. Most notably: Plans for a two-building, 555-unit housing project called Marbella on North Pierce Street, which has an affordable-housing component to it.

Because the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has only until early March to have the project’s approval in hand (so it can apply for tax credits in support of financing), county officials plan to re-hear that case at a special meeting set for Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Most of the other items tripped up by the snafu will be reconsidered in March.

Local residents can testify at the Feb. 28 meeting should they choose, but County Board members said all testimony on the Marbella that had been offered by the public on Feb. 12 will remain as part of the official record. It would seem likely that confirmation of the project’s approval by the County Board in the same form as its previous action is likely a mere formality.

Because the date of the Planning Commission meeting the preceded County Board action was correct on the postings, Planning Commission hearings will not need to be rerun, county officials said.

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