PRESS RELEASE: The Optics of Arlington’s Rouse Estate Don’t Look Good

July 19, 2021.

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 2, and I’m concerned about the County’s failure to preserve its Civil War and architectural heritage.

In March, 2021 the architecturally significant 19th century Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse estate on Wilson Blvd. near Falls Church was demolished by its owner over the objections of numerous citizens and preservationists.

On April 17, County Board denied a recommendation of the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) to designate as historic the site of the estate, which is a Civil War landmark, on advice of its staff.

Long time Arlington Green Party leader John Reeder challenged this decision in Arlington Circuit Court. He argued that in denying historic designation to the property, the County had disregarded the explicit statutory requirements of its own zoning ordinance.

Reeder’s argument was a strong one, because the Rouse estate was the location of a major Civil War encampment. Furthermore a consultant hired by the County itself in 2009 attested to the historic and architectural significance of the property.

Nevertheless at a July 16 hearing, Arlington Circuit Court denied Reeder standing to sue, ruling that because his property doesn’t abut the estate, he’s not an aggrieved party. According to Reeder’s attorney, that interpretation of Arlington’s zoning ordinance accords no one but the property owner herself the right to a zoning appeal, which is clearly unjust.

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

Actually the judge has a point. If the public is unhappy at the cavalier manner in which County Board disposed of a big piece of its Civil War heritage and the heavy handed way in which the Circuit Court extinguished its legal rights, then it can elect new leaders.

I’m running for County Board because I believe that Arlington needs public servants who honor rather than disparage the rights of its citizens and the commissions on which they serve.

If elected, my first order of business will be to insist that the recommendations of Arlington boards and commission be respected. I will also:

  • Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
  • Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
  • Preserve Arlington’s cultural heritage and stop permitting the demolition of historic structures.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clearcutting wooded areas on public property.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 17-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and former member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience andindependence to promote these reforms.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Donate to my campaign.
  • Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

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