Post #435: My comments asking for a clarification from TSC tonight

Posted on October 29, 2019

See my just prior post.  I had not planned to talk, but here’s what I’m going to say, asking for TSC to clarify some fairly basic points about this proposed study of my neighborhood.

We have a very pleasant neighborhood right now on Glen.  Sure, we have some defects — no sidewalks, kids wait for the bus in the roadway, blind curve, some cut-through traffic, and so on.  But in the overall scheme of things, it’s still a very pleasant neighborhood from a traffic perspective.  People choose to walk their dogs here because it’s still a nice street.

The thing is, we’d like to keep it that way.  And so, we’re asking the Town to act prospectively — ahead of time — to blunt the changes that we expect as fallout from MAC.  Changes that we expect to result from the Town’s decision to rezone Maple properties and add hundreds of new Town residents to my neighborhood.  We suspect these new residents may view our street as a convenient cut-through.  Ideally, we’d like to make avoiding spillovers like that an integral part of the overall MAC package.  And we’d like to get things in place before the buildings go up, so that people don’t get used to using our neighborhoods as a cut-through.

In essence, we’re asking for “traffic deflection measures” to be instituted along with these MAC rezonings, to try to preserve the high quality of life in the neighborhoods directly adjacent to Maple.

So, before you go off and let a contract to a consultant, and do traffic counts, and otherwise assess the existing state of my neighborhood, I first need a straightforward answer to a straightforward question:

Will the Town consider prospective safeguards for a MAC-adjacent neighborhood, to try to maintain the existing quality of life, in a neighborhood that is not currently plagued by traffic.  And so blunt the impact of the Town’s decision to allow high-density housing along Maple.

Or, as importantly, is this question outside of your mandate?  Your answer could be “We have no authority to address an issue of preserving quality of life in a nice neighborhood, we only authority to deal with neighborhoods that already have big problems.”

In other words, tonight, I am trying to clarify three different possible answers:
1) Yes, the Town will consider prospectively protecting a currently-pleasant neighborhood, in the context of MAC rezoning.
2) No, the Town will not consider doing that.
3) The TSC does not have the authority to do that.  This is a change in Town policy, and we’re not the right people to ask to do that.

If the correct answer is 3), I’d like a clear statement of that, so that we, in my neighborhood, know that we have to petition Town Council.  I realize Town Council threw this task to you.  But if our request amounts to a change in Town policy, in response to this new zoning, and you don’t have the authority to change Town policy this way, then I need a clear indication of that.  That tells me what I have to do.

Otherwise, if you deem that this request is within  your scope of authority, then I’ll point out that what we are asking for on Glen is prospective action to maintain quality of life in a neighborhood that is not currently plagued by traffic.  Certainly not to the extent that some other Vienna neighborhoods are.  If it is within your authority, I will point out that the current work plan — assessing the current state of the neighborhood — will not address the question we are asking.  And so, if it’s within your authority, you can just clearly say “no, we won’t consider acting as you request, and our workplan reflects that”, and at least I’ll know where we stand.

So, re-stacking those questions:

Is what I am asking for — prospective protection of a currently pleasant neighborhood — within your authority?  (If no, then we’d need to petition Town Council over this.)

If yes, then will you consider such prospective changes, in the context of the impact of MAC rezonings?  (If no, then we can stop wasting our time (e.g.) talking to the developers about these issues.)

If yes to both of the above, then you need to rethink a proposed work plan that seems to be based on assessing whether current traffic exceeds existing thresholds that you use to define unpleasant neighborhoods(Because that’s really not what the residents of Glen are asking for.)