December 2010

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Heritage Foundation 

December 6, 2010


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

The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m.

  1. Agenda

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to accept the agenda as presented. The motion passed without objection.

  1.  Minutes

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to accept the minutes as presented, with the proviso that they are open for amendment for one week after the meeting. The motion passed without objection.

  1.  Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson asked for approval of the following expenses: $308 to Roberta Weiner for transcribing minutes for the Public Space and Transportation Committee and ANC 6C; and $65 to MS. Wirt for business cards for Joe McCann.                                                                                                                          Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to approve the expenditures.  It passed without objection.

Motion:  Mr. Richardson moved/Mr, Dixon seconded a motion to allocate $3500 for a web site for Mr. Richardson to disseminate information to his constituents.

Mr. Richardson said that this had been discussed at the previous meeting and he was anxious to move forward. He said he had spoken with Gottlieb Simon who said it was a good idea and saw no problem with it, and it’s something that his constituents want him to do.  He said he would provide all contracts, and an itemized budget.  Ms. Wirt said that every item involved has to be itemized.  Mr. Hamilton said he would like to see this expanded to the entire ANC, not just one SMD, but to every member who is interested.  Mr. Dixon said he would like to see it work.  He said he needs relief. He pointed out that the next Commissioner can keep it and it will help.  He pointed out that he gets so many e-mails that his mailbox is full to the limit.

Mr. Richardson said he was willing to give a full presentation, and Ms. Phelps said that while she is supportive of the concept, she wants to get more information about what is entailed.  She said that one of the questions she had asked for was a paper presentation and a budget and she hasn’t seen anything yet. She said she doesn’t want anyone to be obligated to something they’re not fully informed about. People thought $5000 was a lot of money and think $3500 is still a lot of money for a dingle member, and that if each ANC member made the same request it would be a substantial chunk of the ANC’s budget.

Mr. Richardson said that he had two Howard University students who would keep the site updated (for course credit) stressed that he wanted to serve the needs of his district.  Ms. Wirt said that the conversation about the site should have taken place before the meeting, and Commissioner Richardson said that he had said he would be happy to discuss it with any member who called him and that none had.  Ms. Wirt said the discussion should be tabled until the end of the meeting.

Mr. Richardson presented the Treasurer’s Report for November.  The opening balance was $99,420.93, and there was an interest payment of $.82. There were disbursements of $65 to Ms. Wirt for business cards for Commissioner Silver (Check #1190);  $2,500 to the Mr. Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District for a grant (Check #1186); and $3000 to Innovation Tennis for a grant. (Check #1191). The closing balance was $93,856.75). Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms .Phelps seconded a motion to accept the November Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.

  1. Community and Commissioner Announcements

Stop the Silence Run – April 23, 2011

Pamela Pine, CEO of Stop the Silence, gave a brief history of how the run had started as her response to the problem of child abuse.  The race, a 10K run, will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2011and will start and end at Freedom Plaza will run up Pennsylvania Avenue to 3rd Street to D Street and continue to Union Station, back across 3rd Street NW, run a short way into 6D territory and back across 3rd Street and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Motion: Mr. Docter moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to send a letter to the Emergency Management Task Force supporting the Stop the Silence Race on April 23.  The motion passed without objection.

Washington Triathalon – June 19, 2011

Julie Hanson, of the Washington Triathalon, said there will be several thousand people participating in the Triathalon, which will take place on Saturday June 19, 2011.  She said they would notify neighbors of the route. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms/ Phelps seconded a motion to send a letter to the Emergency Management Task Force in support of the Washington Triathalon on June 19th.  The motion passed without objection.

National Marathon – March 26, 2011

Chris Browne, Vice President of the 6th Annual National Marathon, gave a detailed presentation of what Marathon staff would do to mitigate the inconvenience caused by the runners’ presence, including signs, door hangers, bump crossings and police presence.  He said they would be out of the 6C area—at H and 8th Street by 9:45 a.m.

In answer to a question he said the Marathon had donated over $500,000 to local charities and kids programs.  Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to send a letter to the Emergency Management Task Force in support of the National Marathon on March 26, 2011.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Transportation and Public Space Committee

Outdoor Seating for Harris Teeter

Committee Chair Joe McCann presented a request for support of a public space permit for outdoor tables and chairs at Harris Teeter at 1st and M Streets NE.  Desmond Connall, Jr. and Susie Davis of Womble, Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, were present as representatives of Harris Teeter.

Harris Teeter wants to place ten tables and 28 chairs—some two-tops, some four—outside the 1st Street side of the market.  The area will have a low fence around it, and has a an area with grass near the tables, The tables would not be accessible from the street, but would be primarily for use by people purchasing food in the market to eat on site.  The tables and chairs will be aluminum; Ms. Haynes was concerned about the weight of the furniture and whether it would be liable to be tossed in high winds.  Ms. Darts said they would look into it and have an answer for the full meeting, There will also be umbrellas, and trash receptacles Mr. Dixon said he had a concern with the potential for people loitering there, and he was told that an MPD officer has been hired for the store, and it would just be for people eating there.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to support the public space permit application for outdoor seating for the Harris Teeter and M and 1st Streets NE.

It was announced that the store would be opening on December 6th, and the community was invited to the opening.

  1. Grants

North Capitol Collaborative

Tony Dugger of the North Capitol Collaborative is applying for a $4,000 grant.  He spoke about his organization, and said the funds would be used to provide a computer lab, conflict resolution resources for college bound students, and a summer camp.  He said he has had funding from the ANC in the past.

Ms. Wirt said that the original grant was for $5218 and included the site supervisor’s salary.  Mr. Dixon said that the current budget is for supplies for his programs.  Mr. Richardson added that any money that comes from the ANC cannot be used to pay salaries.  Ms. Brown said that Mr. Dugger had sent her the new budget and she left it home.  Mr. Richardson said the grant can be approved with a modification to $4000.  Motion: Ms. Brown moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to provide the North Capitol Collaborative with a grant of $4000. when the correct budget is received, and provided it does not contain items for expenses, and doesn’t include food or entertainment.  Mr. Hamilton said that he can’t support the motion because the ANC consistently supports things information to be provided in the future but that isnot available at the time the motion is considered.  The motion passed 7-1.

  1. Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee

309Massachusetts Ave. NE

This is a request for support of a Historic Preservation application to add a new basement entrance on the front entrance of the residential building.

Tony Goodman, speaking for the Committee chair, said that the owner had purchased the property this year and is planning on moving his office to this site.  He needs to provide handicapped access to the office because some clients, as well as his father \, are confined to wheelchair or scooter access.  He proposes moving the existing basement entrance to the front window bay and changing the grade and landscaping to accommodate the change.  He said the Committee was concerns\ed that most Capitol Hill row houses had the basement entrance under the primary entrance and adding the entrance to the window bay may encroach on public space.  The owner had not contacted Public Space for approval, and that was an issue. He said he did not get the name of the person he had spoken with.

Daryl Owen, the owner of the property, said that the basement had never been intended to be occupied and steps were never built.  He also said that were the basement entrance used, the door would have to swing outward and that would not work.  He said the bay is in public space, but he contacted Public Space and they said they had no objection.  Ms. Phelps asked whether if there was a bay with a door, whether the door had to swing outward, and noted that the Committee had not even discussed the design. Bill Crews said that one should always get the name of the person they speak with, and said that the rules governing projections are in the building code, including that a door d\can’t swing out if the door is recessed into the bay.  Joel Kelty disagreed, saying that if the space is for fewer than fifty people, it can swing into space.  He added that because the bay is in public space, technically the City could reclaim it

Mr. Owen said he was planning on February occupancy and there is a considerable amount of work to be done before that.  His HPRB hearing is scheduled for December 16th, and he would prefer not to delay it

Ryan Velasco said that, based on the documentation, he should be allowed to install the door, and he urged the Commission to support the application.  Mr. Crews said he should ask for a delay and see to further develop the pros and cons of installing the door.   He said he would be against supporting the application. .Joel Kelty said that it violates the topology of the historic nature of the neighborhood and he is not convinced that a door under the front stairs would not work. Ms. Phelps said that this is on-going problem with our aging population and it’s something the Commission has to deal with.  She said she was comfortable with; this solution. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Docter seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the Historic Preservation application to add a door to a bay at 309 Massachusetts Avenue NE.  The motion passed without objection.

2 M Street NE

This item, a discussion of a proposed residential building known as Northwest One Site 2, will be discussed at the Committee’s December meeting.

623 C Street NE

This is a request for support of a BZA application for a special exception to construct a one-story rear screened-in porch addition to an existing one-family semi-detached dwelling.  The applicant is requesting the special exception to enclose his deck, and three issues require a special exception to the zoning laws: it increases lot occupancy to 67% from the current 51.8%; the stairway to the deck would only be 3’, rather than the stipulated 6’; and to allow a 3’ setback, not an 8’ setback as required (ironically if the extension went to the property line there would be no need for the special exception). A letter of support has been received from the adjacent neighbor at 625 C Street NE.  The neighbor at 621 C Street, whose property is separated from 623, has stated that the building height will encroach on his air and light even though his residence goes further back into the porch area.  The Committee did not feel that this was cause to require the applicant to modify his drawings nor to require a letter of support from the neighbor. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation and support the special exception request for 623 C Street NE.  The motion passed without objection.

 Union Station North

This is a request for support of a Text and Map Amendment to create and implement the Union Station North (USN) district, involving the creation of a new stand-alone zone called Union Station North.  A Zoning Commission hearing was scheduled for December 16th.

Mr. Goodman reported that Matt Jessick, who was also present at the full ANC meeting, had presented changes to the original submitted text and map amendments, including:

  • The USN District designation will not apply to any other lot outside the boundaries specified in the request
  • There will be a step-down of height along the eastern boundary, of no more than 90 feet.  Exceptions of up to 110 feet could be made if approved by the Zoning Commission.
  • The affected ANC is given party status to any application of this use
  • Community outreach: to ensure that the developers do engage the public, they are required to demonstrate that community outreach has taken place as part of the Stage 1 Review process.

He pointed out that the 110 foot exception was in response to concerns that buildings might go up to 130 feet.  He said that many of the recommendations made by the ANC.

Mr. Crews strongly urged the Commission to go back and reconsider its actions, that the current proposal is nothing less than raping the Height Act.  Nothing, he said, should tower over the government, and this would send that principle down the drain in the interest of more retail, and someone saying we will do wealth and more with property at the expense of the soul of the City.  He said that it would be letting the camel’s nose under the tent, granting great wealth to private corporations.  Daniel Jones, who has lived on F Street for 62 years, said that his father had heard about air rights 30 years ago.  He said he would like more information, and he is concerned that the community will change.  He is particularly concerned about parking.

Mr. Velasco pointed out that there would be an entry to and from H Street, perhaps through a new concourse in Union Station and it would create new space for shopping, new residents and an important opportunity to “reknit” the City together.  Mr. Goodman, who said he was strongly in support of the project said that it won’t increase the square footage, but will allow an office building with an entrance on H Street, it has the potential for preserving vistas, and will allow for residential construction, which the current zoning does not.  There is specific language to encourage different owner, which over time, will improve retail.  It will eliminate blank walls, office building lobbies and other dead spaces.  Ms. Phelps added that it isn’t just about retail.  The area is now a dead zone, and it will grow into a vital part of the community

Mr. Richardson said that his SMD is split, and after listening, he has been impressed by those who welcome the project.  The DC government has worked hard to take the ANC’s concerns into account.  Ms. Wirt said that she put out 100 flyers, and the response was that people in her SMD are overwhelmingly opposed, on the grounds of losing sunlight, increased traffic and parking.  The project needs a traffic study.

Motion: Mr. Docter moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the text and map amendment to create and implement the Union Station North (USN) district.   The motion passed 4-2-1, with Commissioners Dixon and Wirt in opposition, and Ms. Brown abstaining.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Docter seconded a motion to authorize Rob Amos and Tony Goodman to represent the ANC in this matter.  Ms. Wirt asked whether, since there was so much disagreement on the issue, a person who opposed the motion could be named as a representative.  It was pointed out that the people representing the Commission should represent the ANC vote, and that anyone could sign up to testify in opposition at the hearing. D The motion passed 7-0-1, with Ms. Wirt abstaining.

Comprehensive Zoning Regulations Revisions–Parking, Loading and Bicycles

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Docter seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the full ANC support the text amendments as stated, but ask that bicycle sharing options be offered as an optional replacement for car sharing.  The motion passed without objection.

Comprehensive Zoning Regulations Revisions–Medium and High Density Residential Areas

These are general recommendations for conceptual changes to the zoning regulations regarding medium and high density residential areas (R-5).

The committee agreed with all the suggested changes but one: limitation to building originally (pre-1958) for commercial purposes.  They agreed it was arbitrary and did not understand why that limitation had to be set in place.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation t hat the full ANC support the proposed zoning changes with the stipulation that bullet ii. Of the 4th recommendation be removed.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Unfinished Business

Commissioner Richardson’s Proposed Web Site

Ms. Phelps asked whether Mr. Richardson would be willing to provide a template that other Commissioners could use for their SMDs.

Ms. Wirt said she was requesting a statement on what he was proposing, and a line by line budget of what each component will cost, and asked that it be presented at the January meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.