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Letter: Arlington leaders at war with residents over housing

'For county leaders to treat our property so cavalierly is shameful. They are not working for us.'

To the editor: The debate in Arlington over housing (first called “Missing Middle” and now referred to as “Expanded Housing Options”) has escalated into name-calling, group factions and a Wild West approach to zoning and land use.

As much as we all would like, we cannot snap our fingers to return to a long-ago time of Arlington where housing was more affordable. But the theft of property rights through arbitrary zoning changes by Arlington leaders is not the solution.

A lawsuit by 10 residents against the County Board and Planning Commission was a last resort. The county government had turned its back on the Arlington Way, where residents once had a voice in their community, and instead allowed developers, outside interests and a one-sided political stronghold to govern. We now see how unreasonable and unyielding our elected officials are.

The county government’s actions should be a huge wake-up call. Our homes are our most valuable asset and financial investment. For county leaders to treat our property so cavalierly is shameful. They are not working for us.

The lawsuit details the county government’s lack of planning, studies and engagement, as well as the outright violation of the law and its own regulations. A win will be a victory for every Arlington resident, and will set a precedent, not only for Virginia but also for others across the U.S. who are fighting to save their property from unfair zoning changes.

The 10 plaintiffs who bravely put their names on the lawsuit are heroes and represent the thousands of Arlington residents who seek to right the wrongs committed by Arlington leaders. These ordinary folks deserve our support and gratitude, as well as our financial support through donations to the Neighbors for Neighborhoods Litigation Fund.

Arlington leaders have failed us. The unified efforts by our residents to initiate and support the lawsuit exemplifies our efforts to demand proper county governance and leadership.

It only takes one count in the lawsuit for the plaintiffs to prevail, and I’d say those are pretty good odds.

Stephanie Derrig, Arlington