Approval of Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Premature

Remarks given on behalf of long-time civic leader and environmentalist Suzanne Sundburg at Arlington County Board Meeting on July 15, 2017.

Please defer a vote on this agenda Item 50 (Updated Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map). A vote today is premature because agenda Item 52 (endorsement of the design and contract award for Lubber Run Community Center) — which will not be heard until the Board’s July 18 recess meeting – includes a geotechnical engineering report indicating the presence of a significant amount of water on the LRCC site.

In fact, in its 3rd public presentation for the LRCC project (slide 7), staff identified this geotechnical survey, which included test borings of the site that were performed to assess “drainage” issues.

The draft LRCC geotechnical report — published just two days ago on the County website – has given the public inadequate time to review the report to determine whether, in fact, the water present on the LRCC site should be added to the county’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map.

Specifically, Section 3.2.2 of the report indicates that, “Water was encountered at Borings B-7, B-11 and B-13 through B-16 at depths ranging from 13.5 to 21 feet beneath the existing ground surface.”

A two story below ground parking garage contemplated by the proposed design for LRCC will certainly reach this depth and require additional engineering that will increase the project’s cost. This underground water almost certainly emerges somewhere above ground and feeds nearby Lubber Run.

The County Manager has indicated that the draft geotechnical report has no bearing on the preservation map.

However, given the proximity of the site to Lubber Run and its expanded resource protection area (RPA), prudence would dictate a more robust evaluation of the draft geotechnical report before finalizing the preservation map or approving the design for LRCC.

I would hate to see a repeat of the runoff, erosion and storm-water management problems that continue to plague the Ashlawn Elementary School site and the adjacent RPA, since the addition was completed nearly 2 years ago. The site conditions on the Lubber Run Community Center site are quite similar to those on the Ashlawn site, namely: 1) a fairly steep grade that will channel runoff to nearby Lubber Run; 2) removal of 111 mature trees plus 13 “dead or dying trees” from the site; 3) significant soil/site disturbance and regrading that could lead to significant erosion problems.

Excavation, regrading and construction on the site could significantly alter the course of both subsurface and surface waters on the site, ultimately exacerbating runoff and erosion into Lubber Run — a tributary to Four Mile Run and the Potomac River.

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