As an Arlington parent and an engaged neighbor in the Lyon Park community, I am utterly dismayed by the threat a gun shop poses to the character of our neighborhood and to the economic vitality of our neighborhood retail center. Furthermore, I join John Goldener, President of the Lyon Park Citizens Association, in calling for the Arlington County Board to be a more collaborative partner with the community when it comes to timely communication of extremely urgent and important information such as an application for a retail gun shop. Just last month, our State Senator, Barbara Favola, introduced Senate Bill 138 that could have prevented this situation, and as a member of the County Board I would use the bully pulpit to bring the community together in advocacy for common sense legislation.
While it's unfortunate that Arlington County has no authority to stop this use, we have a right to expect our local government to be sensitive to issues like this and work proactively to help concerned citizens understand all of the relevant facts of the matter without hesitation or any filter.
• We need to engage our County Board to understand why, after this issue came up last year in Cherrydale, the Board did not explore legally defensible means to notify communities of potentially objectionable uses.
• As a County Board member, I will make it a priority to release - without delay - information from the zoning and building permit applications that is publicly releasable under the Freedom of Information Act.
• Finally, any regulations within the purview of Arlington County designed to safeguard our community need to be enforced to the most stringent standards. If I am elected to serve on the Country Board, I will ensure we are enforcing the laws that are on the books.
I recognize that existing retailers who have poured their personal finances and enormous time into the success of this retail center are most at risk. The effect is not likely to be immediate, but with the inevitable turnover that is natural and healthy in a thriving retail environment, there is clearly a great risk of not being able to attract the caliber of retail that we and the current retailers have envisioned. Therefore, I have strongly encouraged neighbors to redouble their efforts to patron these businesses.
Most importantly, as we struggle with the reality of a gun shop in our neighborhood, I encourage all of us to realize that we are not alone. This is a local, regional, and national issue. The NRA is likely to bring their resources to bear against us. I am grateful we have the support of our state delegation, Congressman Beyer, and Senators Kaine and Warner. Enacting sensible gun safety legislation will require that we join our protest of this inappropriate use in our neighborhood with the chorus of a coordinated long-lasting campaign in Virginia and nationally.
Later today, I will be joining friends and neighbors in Lyon Park as we rally against this store. I hope to see you there and I look forward to talking about how we can move Arlington toward a better and stronger tomorrow.