April 2009

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Wednesday, April 7, 2009

Heritage Foundation


Present:  Commissioners Brown, Dixon, Docter, Hamilton, Phelps, Richardson, Silver and Wirt Absent: Velasco

The meeting was convened at 7:00 pm

  1. Approval of Agenda

Mr. Docter .asked to have the discussion about downtown streetscape and streetlights moved to next month, as were a discussion of the census and the ITU World Championship Triathalon.  There was a request to move New Business ahead of Old Business. Motion: Mr. Hamilton moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to support of the agenda as amended.  It was accepted without objection

  1. Approval of Minutes

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the minutes, with the conditions\ that members can make changes for one week.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson presented the Treasurer’s Report.  The opening balance was $83,220.10, and there was an interest payment of $3.51, and there were payments of $1,000 to the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools Peabody PTA for a grant (Check #1422), and $255 to Roberta, Weiner for minute taking and transcription (check #1144).  There was also a bank service charge of $45, leaving a balance of $81,963.61.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/ Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to allocate $25 to pay for website management until May 1, when the account switches to DC Access and $232.50 for a payment to Roberta Weiner for minutes taking and transcription.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Community Announcements

Capitol Hill Classic

Josh Raymond requested ANC support for the 30th Capitol Hill Classic on May 16th, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  It will be run on the same route as previously, and ending at 11: 30 a.m. Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Docter seconded a motion to support the race.   The motion passed unanimously.

Chinatown Market

Mr. Docter reported that the long-running situation with the Chinatown Market appears to be resolved, there is now a Voluntary Agreement t hat seems to be working and that they are complying with.

  1. New Business

Licensing and Economic Development

Buddha Bar – 455 Massachusetts Avenue N W

Ms. Phelps reported that Buddha Bar, a new establishment at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW has applied for a Class CR license, with standard operating hours.  She said that one of the owners had met with the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA), and the mail issue was the hours of their planned outdoor seating—midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends.

Ms. Fitch, who lives in the building upstairs, expressed her concern about people smoking on the outdoor patio, which will be on I Street, and may travel up.  She was also concerned about the noise from the proposed DJ emanating from indoors.  The owner said he is applying for an amendment to his application for an entertainment endorsement, and he will replacard…  Ms. Phelps said that the replacarding will give the ANC an opportunity to revisit the application.  The owner said there will be no dance floor, and the music will be a mix of Asian with a western beat.  Mr. Silver expressed his great concern with the matter.  Mr. Docter requested copies of the proposed amendments to the application, and Ms. Phelps said that a change in the hearing date should be requested from ABRA., Mr. Dixon asked about the food that would be served, since t\it was a CR license, and was told that it will be mostly Asian with a French influence, and the establishment will be mostly a restaurant

Urban Institute – 1100 1st Street NE

This is a request for a letter of support to $63 million in DC tax exempt bonds by the Urban Institute for the construction of a new headquarters for the Urban Institute at 1100 1st Street NE.  Robert Reischauer, the President of the Institute explained that they will occupy the first five floors of the building, including a large ground floor conference room which will be used for public events and use by other groups.  He said that the ANC would be welcome to use the room.  He said it will be contrast from the Heritage Foundation—non-f\profit, non-0partisan think tank with 350-400 employees.  They re moving from Dupont Circle into what is becoming a new “non-profit ghetto” and they are excited about the move.  Mr. Dixon said he would like to talk with them about hiring people from the area and Mr. Reischauer responded that as part of accepting the bonds, they have a First Source contract, so they will be reaching out.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Ma. Wirt seconded a motion to send a letter from the ANC in support of the tax exempt bonds requested by the Urban Institute for its new building.  The motion passed without objection.

Loree Murray

Ms. Phelps asked for support of the following resolution honoring the life of Loree Murray

WHEREAS Ms. Murray was one of the first ANC Commissioners in the Distroct; and

WHEREAS Ms. Murray regularly protested on behalf of the citizens of the District and inequities around the globe; and

WHEREAS Mrs. Murray was a successful businesswoman on the H Street corridor, in good times and in bad; and

WHEREAS Ms. Murray helped organize an Orange Hat Citizens Patrol to let city  officials know when streetlights needed repair, trash needed collecting and houses need to be boarded up,; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Murray following quadruple bypass hear surgery, completed the Senior Citizens Police Academy; and

WHEREAS Ms. Murray was tireless advocate for District statehood; and

WHEREAD Ms. Murray stood strong and fast against the District’s most notorious drug kingpin and worked fearlessly and forcefully to help bring him down; and

WHEREAS Ms. Murray founded the Near Northeast Citizens Against Crime and Drugs to lead street patrols that helped police document evidence of drug dealing; and

WHEREAS, knowing that all who work on behalf of the Near Northeast community now do so only because of her powerful strides to make it safer and stronger’ and

WHEREAS Ms. Murray passed away on March 27, 009 in the District of Columbia; and

WHEREAS   Ms. Loree Murray will be deeply missed, but leaves an enduring legacy of public service, passion, and perseverance that inspires all District residents,


  1. Celebrates the life and accompl9ishments of Ms. Loree Murray; and
  2. Thanks Ms. Murray’s surviving six children and their spouses, her 11 grandchildren and  ten great grandchildren, for sharing her with our community for so many years; and
  3. Resolves to honor her work by doing the best we can for the District of Columbiaresident and neighborhoods she so dearly loved.

Mr. Silver noted that she was a committed woman, and that he was half her age and still couldn’t keep up with her.  Mr. Hamilton added that she was an extraordinary woman and that when people were cowering in fear from the drug activity in her neighborhood, she was not and she stood up and made a difference. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to forward the resolution to the members of the City Council.  The motion passed unanimously.

  1. Old Business

Licensing Committee

B &M Grocery

Ms. Phelps reported that the ABLE Committee evaluated the application for a single sales exception for B&M Food Store.  They hard from the applicant and received letters in support and opposition to the application.  There were three letters of opposition and many. letters, including a petition with 200 signatures, in support.  The Committee found that special circumstances exist due to

  1. the establishment’s close proximity to Ward 5 and Ward 5 liquor stores, which are not subject to the same or similar moratorium, and
  2. the establishment’s lack of Ward 6 competitor liquor stores in the same relative close proximity, and
  3. the establishment’s 30 years as an ongoing business in their location, and
  4. the Applicant’s substantial support from the surrounding community, and
  5. that the majority of community comments do not perceive the selling of singles at this store as contributing to loitering, littering and other behavior the ban is intended to reduce.

Accordingly, the Committee recommends, 5-0-0 that the ANC support B&M’s request for a single sales exception, so long as

  1. the exception is graned with the explicit condition that if the special circumstances cease (i.e. if Ward 5 enacts a similar moratorium) the exception shall b e revoked and all Ward 6 moratorium restrictions shall resume; and
  2. the exception shall be granted for a one-year period, upon which time the ANC shall re-evaluate, and
  3. that a Voluntary Agreement shall be required that establishes the parameters of this recommendation; and
  4. that the Commission encourages the applicant to explore micro grants such as those offered by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development to make interior improvements to the store (for example, limiting the plexiglass security to the cashier area only) to help expand its ability to compete with other stores.

Ms. Phelps said they had discussed the issue for an hour, and that Commissioners Dixon and Silver were both at the meeting and approved of the exception.,  Motion: Ms Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the request of B&M Grocery under the conditions above for an exemption to the Ward 6 Single Sales Moratorium.  The commission voted 7-0-1 to support the request.


Committee Co-Chairs John Kelly and Joe McCann reported that there were no public space applications.

Motor Carrier Office

They reported that they had met with Eulois Cleckley (?) who is in charge of the Motor Carrier Office at DDOT.  He said they are looking at outside consultants to develop a plan to manage truck traffic and designate preferred truck routes, which are currently a hodge-podge.  He said there should be a truck map developed by late this summer, to be followed by a tour bus map.  The map will be based pm the federal designation of street—smaller streets will not be used, and it will emphasize collector routes.  Enforcement will be split between MPD and DDOT,

Mark Dixon introduced Jamie Henson, who is the new Ward 6 Transportation Planner.

Youth and Education

Mr. Hamilton reported that he attended a meeting of the School Improvement Team (SIT) for Eastern High School, on March 19th. He has learned that there is apparently an Academic Improvement Team (AIT) and a Facilities Improvement Team (FIT).  The main topic at the SIT meeting was whether the kids should be housed in temporary structures while the building was being renovated.  One suggestion was that the kids could be moved to Hine Middle School.  Other schools, such as the School With Walls, have been moved to temporary locations while their permanent homes were being renovated and the thought was that Eastern stakeholders might feel that they were being dissed, a feeling that Mr. Hamilton shares somewhat.  The next meeting was scheduled for April 15th.

He also reported that Cheryl Warley, principal of J>O> Wilson had addressed the March committee meeting, and that Cheryl Cobbs, principal of Ludlow Taylor would be at the April 20 meeting.

Planning, Zoning and the Environment

1209 and 1211 4th Street NW

This is a request for support an HPRB concept approval for three-story rear additions to both 1209 and 1211 4th Street NW   The hearing is scheduled for April 23rd.

The developer Abbas Fathi, and the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Ostad Housseini, have restored the facades  of two existing condemned buildings, and now want to re-build the rest of the buildings to create two two-unit dwellings, which will rise to three stories in the rear.  There is a church in the rear of the buildings and there is no alley between them.  The building will have 60% lot occupancy.  They are similar to another building at 1213 4th Street NW that Mr. Farhi is also redeveloping, and which the ANC has already given approval. The Committee recommends that the ANC support the project.

Motion: Mr. Dixon moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the request for concept approval of 1209 and 1211 4th Street NW, and send a letter to HPRB.  The motion passed unanimously.

19 I Street NW – Gonzaga High School

This is a request for approval for a special exception and variances at BZA to create new facilities and new below-grade parking at Gonzaga High School.  The Committee recommended that the ANC support the application.

The variances are being sought in order to construct new academic and athletic facilities, with new below-grade parking under the existing athletic field.  The special exceptions are required because it’s as private school in an R-4 district.  Space is being added to the arts and athletic buildings, and will require portions of existing structures to be demolished and other buildings reconfigured The entrance off I street will be narrowed and made more pedestrian friendly.

In answer to a question Mr. Dixon was told that the athletic field will be out of use for one year. Mr. Silver said that he community is fortunate to have Gonzaga in the area, and thanked them for being good neighbors.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Brown seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation and support the BZA application of Gonzaga High School for variances and special exceptions.  The motion passed unanimously.

1179 3rd Street NE – Oasis Liquors

This is a request for support for a special use variance to reopen a liquor store in an R04 zone.  The Committee voted to  “take the pulse” of the community, hear from the contract purchasers of the property ad look into obtaining a voluntary agreement before moving forward with the application.

A special use variance is required to re=open this liquor store in an R-4 district, The Certificate of Occupancy had been revoked and the zoning reverted to R-4 since the store had been closed for more than three years.  The store was originally opened as a liquor store, and he has not considered any other uses for the store.  Mr. Park plans to remain the owner of the building but sell the business.

Steve Gell, the attorney for the owner, Mr. Park, claimed that many neighbors want to see the store re-open., and that Mr. Park was willing to sell convenience store items. He said that Mr. Park would be willing to negotiate an agreement that both sides can agree with, and there are accommodations he is willing to make, such as lighting, meeting with the ANC at least twice a year.

Mr. Amos noted that the Committee had not considered all the aspects of granting a use variance, and people didn’t discuss whether the situation of the store would result in exceptions practical difficulties or exception and under hardship for the property owner; and whether granting such a variance is consisting with the general intent of the zoning laws.

Cheryl Grant, of the Capitol Hill North Neighborhood Association, submitted a letter in opposition. Rebecca Midkiff said that this is an up and coming neighborhood, and doesn’t need such a store.  Roz Holmes, who has lived in the neighborhood for thirty years, left and returned five years ago to an exciting new area, \. She said she remembers Oasis as not a good neighbor, who did not keep the place clean.  Vicki Stewart said she was threatened by a guy standing outside the store.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to oppose the application for a use variance because the owner does not have a Certificate of Occupancy, the store does not have good history, and members of the community oppose the store.  The motion also authorizes Ms. Phelps and Mr. Amos to represent the ANC in this matter.  The motion passed without objection.  Ms. Brown was not present for the vote.

728 6th Sreet NE – Child Development Center

This is a request for support of a BZA application to continue operation of a day care center.  The existing use variance is expiring and Donald Madden, the owner is seeking approval to continue operating the facility.  Mr. Madden had previously come before the ANC with a request for support for building additions and changes at the site, which he has subsequently withdrawn.  The committee voted to support the request.

Mr. Hamilton said that opposition to the Center seems to have disappeared and that, at a community meeting on the building, there appeared to be a great deal of support.  There are also letters of support from parents,   He said that Mr. Madden is planning to complete the partially built fence on 8th Street, and will not use it as a play area because the Department of Health says it’s too close to a bus stop. M\H\He said he has visited the Center and would be happy to send his children there.  According to Mr. Madden 100% of the children are DC residents and the majority live within walking distance of the center.  Mr. Madden said that the day care center is monitored by the Department of Health, and the Fire Department, among other agencies.  He also would like to have the continuation of his license without time limits, as it is difficult for him to go through this process over and over again.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the BZA application of the Child Development Center for a continuation of his license to operate the center, without nay time limitation.  The motion passed unanimously.

515 D Street NW – The Recorder of Deeds Building

This is a request for a concept approval at HPRB for a three-story rooftop addition to the historic Recorder of Deeds building.  The Committee recommended that the ANC not support the application because the addition is not consistent with the character of the building or the neighborhood.

Curtis Clay of the Office of Property Management and Suman Sorg presented the project to the committee:  It is a three story glass and steel rooftop addition that will be set back of each story, bringing what is now a 40’ building to 70’.. The building is now surrounded by several 90’ buildings.  The existing ground floor will remain, as will the existing core and stairs.  A new sliver structure adjoining the building will provide additional access to the floors. They are aiming for a LEED Silver structure.  Meetings have been held with the NCPC, the Fine Arts Commission and the HPRB on the plans.  HPRB had requested that the building not mimic the existing structure.

Ms. Wirt said she would like to see less glass and also noted that the ANC seems to be the last group to see the project.  Ms. Phelps commented on the process as well, saying that federal agencies are involved before the community. Knows what is going on.  Ms. Brown said she was concerned about the cost.  Motion: Mr. Docter moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to oppose the plans as they now stand, and work on a better design.  Mr. Clay said that the money has already been allocated and the City wants to move forward expeditiously.  The motion passed 4-3-1, with Commissioners Hamilton, Richardson and Docter opposed, and Commissioner Phelps abstaining.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:19 pm.