Arlington Circuit Court Says Public Can’t Sue to Designate Civil War Site Historic

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, July 17, 2021.

First, I want to thank Arlington Green Party Chair John Reeder for challenging Arlington County Board’s decision exactly three months to the day to deny local historic designation for the site of the since demolished Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse estate.

It took guts for Reeder to stand up to the thug like tactics of the owner of that estate in thwarting the efforts of local historians to preserve Arlington’s Civil War heritage and even the County’s own efforts to catalog the estate’s many historic artifacts.

Unfortunately just yesterday Arlington Circuit Court denied Reeder standing to sue the County, arguing that he is not an aggrieved party, because his property doesn’t abut the estate. According to Reeder’s attorney, that interpretation accords no one but the property owner herself the right to a zoning appeal, which is clearly unjust. This arbitrary ruling also renders Virginia’s historic preservation statute a dead letter.

So what? scoffed the judge. If the public is unhappy with the decision, it can vote the Board out.

What if the people of Gettysburg were told that they can’t sue to stop removal of confederate monuments from Seminary Ridge about a mile from the heart of town. But for the opposition of Republicans in the U.S. Senate, this is precisely what would have happened when the Democrat controlled Congress voted to remove them in August, 2020.

Denial of the public’s right to preserve its heritage may hold sway in Arlington County, but there’s a revolt brewing in the hustings. The people of Gettysburg don’t want their heritage destroyed in the name of fake social justice. Someday when its own heritage has been obliterated, Arlington too will rise up.