Possible zoning changes stirring up 'missing middle' debate in Arlington County

A debate over housing has sparked an intense debate in Arlington County that involves possible zoning changes to what types of houses can be built in certain neighborhoods.

It's called missing middle housing, and while supporters say it will allow more affordable housing, opponents say it would ruin single-family neighborhoods.

A study has been underway for several years in Arlington County, but as the county moves closer to making a decision about the changes next year, people who are both for and against the plan have been making their feelings known.

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If missing middle housing goes forward, Arlington County would allow developers to build multi-residential homes in what are now traditionally single-family detached neighborhoods.

In many of those neighborhoods, like Lyon Village, homes are now dotted with lawn signs in opposition to the changes. The president of a civic group tells FOX 5 she's concerned neighborhoods would be destroyed.

"If developers are allowed to come in and purchase property and tear them down and build duplexes and triplexes that will sell for over a million dollars each, then they will certainly want to come in and destroy perfectly good missing middle homes," says President of the Glencarlyn Civic Association Julie Lee.

Supporters say Arlington has a problem with not enough housing options, and they say missing middle housing is the answer.

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"The new buildings will be the same size [as] what’s currently being built, so it’s not going to be taller, it’s not going to be wider…it’s going to look like what the newly built detached homes look like right now," says Jane Green of the Alliance for Affordable Housing.

While the debate has heated up, Arlington County's board has not voted on or scheduled consideration of any zone ordinance. Arlington's board chair Christian Dorsey will host an online information session on Wednesday.

In the meantime, missing middle housing is expected to take center stage at a Lyon Village council candidate debate Monday night as well as at a forum Tuesday night in the Glyncarlin neighborhood.