July 2010

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Heritage Foundation 

July 14, 2010


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

Absent:  Commissioners Brown, Richardson

The meeting was called to order at 7:10 p.m.

  1. Agenda

The agenda as presented was accepted without objection.

  1. Minutes

The minutes, as presented, were accepted without objection, contingent on any changes made within the next week.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

In the absence of the Treasurer, Ms. Wirt gave the Treasurer’s Report:

The opening balance of the checking account was $92,189.38.  There was a deposit of $.74 in interest.  There was an expenditure of $380 for transcription of minutes for the June Public Space and Transportation Committee and the May ANC 6C meeting, leaving a balance of $91, 810.14. Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented.  The motion passed without objection.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Quarterly Report for the 3rd Quarter of FY 10, contingent on review by the Commissioners.  The motion passed without objection.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve an expense of $142. 50 to Roberta Weiner for transcription services for the June ANC meeting.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Public Safety

Mr. Dixon introduced Chief William Pittman of the Housing Authority Police force, who gave a report on his department.  He said it was a small but effective force, working with both MPD and the federal police forces.  He said that while there are 51 properties under his jurisdiction throughout the city, the largest areas of his jurisdiction were in Ward 6 because there’s a great deal of property in the Ward.  They use the same communication system as the MPD.  They have 42 officers, and 36 special police.  He can be reached at 535-2575, with a confidential line at 535-2227.

  1. Community and Commissioner Announcements

Old City Tree Removal

Mr. Silver reported on his successful effort to save a historic tree threatened with removal.  The tree, hundreds of years old, stands near the site of a know Underground Railroad “stop”, and  a group of preservationists, pro-green advocates and local community activists were mobilized to protest and save the tree.  He said it was a victory for Commission, and he is now working with colleagues on legislation to preserve the tree canopy.  Mr. Hamilton praised Mr. Silver for his “outstanding support of nature.”

Date of September ANC Meeting

Ms. Wirt announced that because Rosh Hashanah begins on September 8th, the scheduled ANC meeting date, the September 6C meeting would be held on Tuesday, September 7th instead, at the regular time and place.

  1. Committees

Alcoholic Beverage Control

West Wing Café – 300 New Jersey Ave. NW

Ms. Phelps reported that this is a small operation that would like a Class C license. It will have no entertainment, but will have a summer garden that seats 20 people.  She reported that Mr. Docter has no problem with the establishment.  The petition date is July 26th.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion that the ANC accept the Committee’s recommendation and support the application of the West Wing Café for a Class C license.  The motion passed without objection.

New York, New York – 33 New York Avenue NE

This is a request for support for a Class CT license at a venue that was formerly Mirrors.  The license request also includes an entertainment endorsement.  Sami Khan is the owner manager.  It will be closed on Mon days, and the hours will be on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m.-2 am, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Capacity is 190.  They will serve sandwiches and microwave foods.  There will be a sports bar on the ground floor, and dancing including belly dancing on the second floor.

Mr. Khan said he will sign a VA, similar to the one that was written for Mirrors.  Motion: Ms Phelps moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the license, pending the signing of a voluntary agreement, and that Ms. Phelps and Mr. Dixon be authorized to represent the ANC in this matter.  The motion passed without objection.

Sixth Engine – 400-438 Massachusetts Ave. NW

This is a request for support of a CT license for a new tavern and American bistro with full entrée menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Paul Holder and Mr. Coleman, owners of the establishment were present and gave some background. Mr. Coleman’s family owns the Dubliner and Town Hall and said the establishment would mirror them in spirit.  The building is the oldest surviving firehouse in Washington, and they plan to honor that history.  There will be a full bar and a full-service restaurant.  They have met with the condo association of the building in which they are located, and are working out a voluntary agreement.  They said they first presented their plans at the end of March, and their petition is July 19th.

  1. Docter commented that it appears to be a short timeline and there’s no time to “dialogue” with the affected parties.  He asked about potential noise emanating from the establishment, and asked whether a noise expert has been retained to analyze the establishment. He pointed out how serious the noise problem could be, and asked what they are doing about getting independent advice.  Mr. Coleman said it was premature to work on the noise because the design hasn’t been completed.

Mr. Dixon said he had walked down there and spoken with Ms. Page, the manager of the Meridian and she’s totally against it because of the potential noise and cooking smells.

Ms. Phelps pointed out that the committee’s recommendation was to protest the license on the grounds of peace, order and quiet until a satisfactory voluntary agreement can be worked out.

Sasha Rosen, the President of the Condominium Board of Directors at the Meridian said that he had seen the owners several times, that they had presented to the buildings in March, and he got a good sense of who they are.  He said that there are issues, and wants to work with them on them.  He pointed out that the establishment is adjacent to the parking garage, and they want to work on mitigating the issues.  He said it would be push to get it done by August 2nd.  Mr. Docter asked Mr. Rosen whether he had contacted a noise expert.

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/ Mr. Docter seconded a motion that the ANC should institute a protest of the license application until a satisfactory VA can be negotiated.

Phillip Ross Mayhood said that the main dining room and kitchen are directly below his unit.  He said that his floor is wood on concrete, and there will be vibration. He said he knew there would be a restaurant there when he bought the unit, and he will work with the owners to see that the problems are mitigated.  He expressed his concern with the outdoor seating which will be right outside his windows.  Ms. Phelps encouraged all the parties to work together.  Mr. Docter mentioned that a lot of items will not be applicable to as VA, and the negotiators will have to be careful and have a separate agreement with non-ABRA items.  Ms. Wirt said the motion should be amended to authorize Mr. Docter to represent the ANC in the negotiations on the VA.  The motion passed without objection.

Transportation and Public Space

Committee Chair Joe McCann introduced Candace Haynes, a new member of the Committee.

Toyland – 421 H Street NE

This is a request for outdoor seating on the 5th Street side of the establishment.  There would be 18 seats, and would be open from 5 pm to 10:30 pm weekdays, and 5 pm to midnight on weekends. Mr. McCann said that the committee had unanimously voted to support the request, contingent on any provisions in the VA that might be relevant.  Ms. Phelps said that Pat and Petey’s VA had never been filed.  David Bernhardt, owner of the establishment, said that the neighbors are not a problem, and the ones who live directly behind the establishment are in favor of it.  Ms. Phelps asked who had the liquor license and Mr. Bernhardt said it had been transferred to him.

Motion:  Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation to support a public space permit application for outdoor seating at Toyland.  The motion was approved without objection.

Taylor Gourmet – 485 K Street NW

This is an application for a sidewalk café at Taylor Gourmet.  Mr. McCann reported that no representative of the establishment had appeared at the Committee meeting.  They are requesting benches with three picnic tables from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  A manager, who was present at the ANC meeting, said they had put out the tables to see how they would work.  They plan to lock up the tables at night.

Mr. Silver said there are problems.  He said that he and Mr. Dixon had visited the establishment and there was no one from management there, and he was still waiting for a phone call from management.  He said they went back again, again unsuccessfully.  He said the residents are concerned because there was no notice of the application, and he is troubled with the way they’re doing business.  He said he would like to revisit the VA.  Ms. Phelps reminded the Commission that public space permits can’t be tied to VAs.

Mr. Dixon said that they have just ignored us.  He didn’t call, and didn’t come to the committee, and there was no public notice of the request.  Ms. Phelps said that Public Space doesn’t issue placards for public space requests.  Sam, the Taylor manager, said that Hoe had called a week in advance of the meeting and he had passed the request along to Casey.  Mr. Docter said that the committee structure disrupts the work of individuals attempting to work with owners.  Sam said he was concerned about the tables not being out there.  Mr. Silver said that until the ANC can get the owners before it, it should oppose the request. A resident said the ANC should not be disrespected. Motion: Mr. Silver moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to oppose the public space request for Taylor Gourmet.  The motion passed without objection.

Café Phillips – 50 F Street NW

This is a public space request for a small sidewalk café which will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Natalie Eun, the owner was present.  Mr. McCann said the committee had unanimously requested that the ANC support the request.  Motion: Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee recommendation and support the public space request for as sidewalk café of Phillips Café.  The motion passed without objection.

Tru Orleans – 4th and H Streets Ned

Hans Christiansen, the owner, and Kyrus Freeman, of Holland and Knight, his attorney, were present to discuss the plans for a public space permit for Tru Orleans, a New Orleans style restaurant that will open at  4th and H Street NE.  There are plans for 79 outdoor seats on the first level. And 74 on the second level.  They are also considering 31seats on the roof.  The outdoors will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. during the week, and 10:30 to midnight on weekends.  The space abuts an alley, with residences behind it.

Mr. McCann said that the committee recommended supporting the request, but with fewer tables.  He said they will have a fence surrounding the outdoor space.  Mr. Freeman said the plan meets DCRA code requirements.  He said the chairs and table would go inside at night.  In answer to a question, he said there would be bicycle racks.  Ms. Haynes said that the upstairs would be noisy.  Ms. Phelps mentioned that there are umbrellas that can cut the noise.  She also said that they will be back before the ANC when they apply for their liquor license.  Motion:  Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to support the request for a public space permit for Tru Orleans.  The motion passed without objection.

Constitution Square – 1201 1st Street NE

This is a request for a support of a public space permit to install five benches among the tree boxes outside the office building at 1201 1st Street NE.  There will also be 13 bicycle parking spaces.  The committee unanimously recommended support. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation to support the public space request to install five park benches at 1201 1st Street NE.  The motion passed without objection.

NY Avenue Metro Parking

Ms. Phelps said that WMATA employees are parking illegally in public space around the New York Avenue Metro stop.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to write to WMATA calling the problem to its attention and asking that the practice be stopped.  The motion passed without objection.

Buddha Bar – 425 Massachusetts Ave. NW – Valet Parking

This is a continuation of a discussion that began last month about valet parking at Buddha Bar.  Elan Gorev and Duby Kliger represented Buddha Bar.

Mr. Docter said that he had a good conversation in the last day or so with the owners.  He said he had not been notified that a valet parking permit had been granted.  He said it’s obvious that something should be done to involve I Street in the valet parking situation.  Part of the problem is the park at 5th and 6th and I Street.  The BID is represented here tonight and they should be involved.  If you’re willing to work this out, and work with the stakeholders—those affected by the valet parking, the ANC can work with you.  He suggested starting out to achieve a plan that will be in effect for one year after which it can be modified if it isn’t working.  Mr. Goren said their approach is for three years, but they want to work cooperatively.  He said it seems there’s no immediate solution because the restaurant entrance is on Massachusetts Ave. and he doesn’t see how that can be overcome.  Motion:  Mr. Docter moved/Mr. Silver seconded moved to delay action on the issue of valet parking at Buddha Bar until discussions can be held and there’s resolution of the issue.  The motion passed without objection.


Southern Baptist Church

This is a second request from Southern Baptist Church for $1500 to be applied to its National External Diploma Program which gives adults an opportunity to earn a GED degree by applying life skills to the program.  Dr. Eleanor Doom, the site coordinator, successfully completed the ANC’s requirements for its previous grant for an earlier session of the program.  Motion: Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to support the allocation of $1500 to Southern Baptist Church for its National External Diploma Program.  The motion passed without objection.

5th and I St. Public Market

Bill McCleod Executive Director of the Mt. Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District, requested a grant of $2500 toward the operation of a Sunday public outdoor market at an existing parking lot at 5th and I Streets NW.  The Market, called the Northern Liberties Market after a historic market near the current site.  Motion:  Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to approve the allocation of $2500 to the Mt. Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District toward the operation of an outdoor public market at 5th and I Street NW.  The motion passed without objection.

Planning, Zoning and the Environment


601 East Capitol Street SE

Committee chair Rob Amos said that this was just a matter of discussion.  The Library of Congress runs the Little Scholars Day Care Center at 601 East Capitol Street and they are now planning to renovate the building so that it can accommodate visiting scholars.

The existing day care center would remain in the east building, and the balance of the site will be renovated for affordable living quarters for the LOC Residential Scholars program, which awards fellowships for scholars to pursue research for periods ranging from 2-12 months.  There would be 50 residential units (40 efficiencies and 6 one-bedrooms). The building would typically house 100 scholars a year for 4-6 months each.  There would be scholar lounges and a community conference room on the first floor.  There would be no increase in the population of the day care center.  , and the exterior of the buildings would be modernized.

519 3rd Street NE

This is a request for support of a Historic Preservation application for a concept design for a two-story rear addition to a residential building.

The owners want to build a two-story rear addition for a breakfast room on the first floor and expanded bedroom on the second.  The lot coverage would increase from 53% to 60%.  The addition will be built over crawl space, and no basement excavation will be required.  The size of the addition is in keeping with the historic house and is similar to the house to the right to which it is attached.  Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion that the ANC accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the request for a two-story addition at 519 3rd Street NE. The motion was approved without objection.

219 M Street NW – Primal Fitness Center

The applicant came before the Commission in 2008 requesting a zoning variance to operate a fitness center in an R-4 district.  The ANC requested that the applicant work out problems with a neighbor and return to the ANC.

The BZA granted the center provisional approval to operate in the R-4 district with the following caveats:

  1. Weights or any object weighing over 95 lbs. may only be dropped in the rear room of the first floor of the firehouse building.
  2. Applicant, at its own expense, will install appropriate sensor/monitoring devices on the western wall of the adjacent building to the east of the property in order to detect any adverse vibrational impact on the adjacent building.  Any information or results obtained from the monitoring devices shall be monitored and compiled by the applicant.
  3. Six months from the final date of this order, the Applicant shall provide a report on the information/results obtained from the monitoring devices to the party opponent, Ms. Keyes, and to ANC 6C.
  4. The order will expire at the end of nine (9) months beginning on the final date of the order.

Additionally, the BZA order states that the applicant will repair the plaster of the adjacent building on the east.

The conditions have not been met, nor that the plaster been repaired, and the fitness center continues to operate without the proper without the proper zoning designation or as Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), and the ANC was notified on May 12, 2010 that the center was in violation of the BZA order.  The owner, Ray Valentine, explained to the Committee what had been transpiring with trying to get a C of O, and there were still two outstanding items that had to be addressed.  Mr. Valentine explained that the expense of adding the sensors/monitoring equipment was not economically possible.

Brenda Keyes, owner of the business in the adjacent building, spoke at the committee meeting about the continuing problems, such as the dropping of large weights continued in the front room and the owner of the center would not work with her on the issues.  Gene Cope, a resident of the neighborhood, spoke about the illegal use of public space and parks for classes, and he has had to call MPD several times to stop the classes at a park at New Jersey Avenue and 4th Street.  The Department of Parks and Recreation has no record of any permits applied for use of public space for commercial purposes.  Mr. Amos reported at the Committee meeting that several residents have contacted him about issues with the center including the blocking of public space, people running two-three abreast on the sidewalk and he had personally seen the use of heavy weights on the sidewalk area.

The BZA decision placed a nine-month term on the original approval, at which time it would be reassessed by the BZA with “community input”, and what impacts the use is having on the neighborhood.

Mr. Amos reported that the Committee decided that he fitness center is not the appropriate commercial business for the building or the neighborhood, and other commercial uses should be explored.

Mr. Dixon said that the fitness center needs a Certificate of Occupancy, and can’t support it without a C of O.  The neighbors, he said, keep asking about it, and the owners have not met with either himself or Ms. Keyes.  He recommends not voting on it until the September meeting.

Motion:  Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to postpone the vote on the fitness center until the owner can be contacted.  The motion passed without objection.

Plan for the National Mall

Mr. Docter mentioned that there was a Washington Post article on upgrading the National Mall, and the plan will be accepted within 30 days.  After years of proposals, he said he doesn’t know how a decision was reached.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.