March 2010

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heritage Foundation                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Minutes

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

The meeting opened at 7:00 pm

  1. Agenda

The agenda was approved, as presented, without objection.

  1. Minutes

The minutes were approved without objection.

  1. Tribute to Miles Grove

The members of the ANC paid tribute to Miles Grove and the major contributions he made to the downtown community, as well as his devotion, up until his death, to its improvement.  There was a strong feeling among the Commissioners that he will be missed.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson submitted the February Treasurers Report.  There was an opening balance of $98,460.98. There was an interest payment of $0.83.  There were payments of $216 to Capitol Community News for a Hill Rag ad (Check #1164) and $240 (Check #1165) to Roberta Weiner for transcription of minutes, for transcription of minutes for the ANC and Transportation Committee meetings, leaving a balance of $98,005.  Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Velasco seconded a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report.  The motion passed without objection.

Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve the expenditure of $217.50 to Roberta Weiner for transcription of the December minutes and an expense of $61.05 for FedEx copying expenses for Mr. Docter from October.  The motion passed without objection.

Motion: Mr. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to approve the allocation of $130 for business cards for Mr. Docter and Mr. Dixon.  The motion passed without objection.

Mr. Silver inquired as to whether the plaque approved at the last meeting had been done, and Mr. Dixon said that it had to be approved by the Auditor before it was made.

  1. Community and Commissioner Announcements

Levine School of MusicReagan Ford, director of the Levine School of Music’s Southeast campus at The ARC, presented information on the school’s programs and invited the participation of all residents of the 6C area—old, young, young adults, adults—to take advantage of the school’s classes and programs.  She specifically mentioned a free concert on March 18th.Northwest One LibrarySteve Lilienthal, Director of the Northwest One Library announced upcoming programs, including an interview workshop for those seeking work, and a tax workshop by the DC Department of Insurance.Census Ms. Phelps gave a pitch for participation in the census, stressing its importance for federal dollars for the District.  She urged everyone to fill out their form.Preservation Café6A Commissioner David Holmes announced a Capitol Hill Restoration Society Preservation Café on Spring Cleaning with Jill Lawrence to be held at Ebenezer’s Coffee House.

  1. New Business

Grants Committee 

Capitol Hill Garden Club

Vera Sisolak, president of the Capitol Hill Garden Club, presented a request for $400 for this year’s purchase of daffodil and crocus bulbs for fall planting in the community.  ANCs 6A and 6B are also being asked for funds, with 6C’s portion of the grant being the smallest. part of the total $2500 needed for the project.  Ms. Wirt asked how it will be guaranteed that the bulbs will be distributed in 6C, and was told that there are lists from last year, and the bulb giveaway will be announced in the Hill Rag and on local listservs, and through individuals.  The Garden Club keeps track of where they go.  Mr. Richardson asked what would happen to “leftover” bulbs and was told that there weren’t any.  Motion: Mr. Hamilton moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to approve the grant of $400 to the Capitol Hill Garden Club.  The motion passed without objection.

Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School PTA

Mike Showalter, president of the Ludlow Taylor PTA presented a request for $1500 to establish a Parent/Teacher Resource Library of materials on the school’s Reggio Emilio early childhood learning program.  The Resource Center will also provide a Parent Training program.  The PTA will retain ownership of the materials, for which there is no DCPS funding available.  Ms. Phelps suggested ways that the PTA can receive an IRS exemption for the program.  Mr. Hamilton spoke about how the school is improving, and mentioned that the waiting list has grown from 18 last year to 75 this year.  Motion:  Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to approve a grant of $1500 to the Ludlow/Taylor PTA.  The motion passed without objection.

Sursum Corda Boys/Girls Club

Rob Lewis of the Sursum Corda Boys and Girls Club presented information on a grant proposal that is not ready to be voted on.  It is for scholarships for a summer program for 80 children—the scholarship is to pay for membership in the Club.  Mr. Hamilton said that it can’t look as though the money is going directly to the children.  Ms. Phelps added that the program sounds great but there is no budget attached to the proposal.  She said she hoped that someone was willing to work with Mr. Lewis to get the grant in shape and to make sure that there were receipts, an Auditor’s okay, and that no money was going for food or travel, and that the money was going to serve 6C kids.  Mr. Silver saluted Mr. Lewis as a beacon of light for generations of children in the community.  Ms. Brown said she would work with the applicant.

Ms. Brown added that she was working on getting a location for the meeting to discuss the ANC’s grant procedures, but that she had had to cancel one that she had set up.

Education and Youth Committee

Mr. Hamilton introduced Tanetta Isler,a volunteer who has agreed to take over as Chair of the Education and Youth Committee.  She said she lives in 6C04, is a former teacher, and is committed to community outreach. Motion: Mr. Hamilton moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve the appointment of Tanetta Isler as Chair of the Education and Youth Committee.  It passed without objection.

Transportation and Public Space Committee

Joe McCann, co-chair of the Committee gave the following report:

The SeVerna – 1st, K, L and 1st Terrace NW

This is a request for support of a public space permit for the construction of a curb cut on 1st Street NW, moving a second curb cut on 1st Place, and eliminating a third cut at the residential development being constructed by Bible Way Church to replace the Golden Rule development. The ANC has approved the development, but it has been partially delayed because of the economy.  The plan now calls for Phase 1, which will be the construction of a mid-rise building on 1st Street and low-rise townhouses on L Street NW.  Phase 2 will comprise a high rise building on K Street that will have130 units of affordable housing.  The Phase 1 buildings are being constructed to house people who were displaced by the demolition of Golden Rule.

The curb cuts are to allow access to the above ground parking behind the buildings.  This will be replaced by below ground parking spaces when the K Street building is constructed.  They also will be improving the streetscape in keeping with the NoMa streetscape guidelines.

Motion: Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the request of the Bible Way Church for a public space permit to construct a curb cut on 1st Street NW, and relocate a curb cut on 1st Terrace NW.  The motion passed without objection.

Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee

Committee chair Rob Amos reported the following:

1111 North Capitol Street – National Public Radio

.This is a request for support of modifications to the concept design for the new National Public Radio headquarters at 1111 North Capitol Street.  An HPRB hearing is scheduled for March 25th, after which they will go before the Mayor’s Agent.  The modifications include the addition of 30,000 square feet of floor space, bringing the building up to 330,000 sq. ft., which will include a third floor on the rear portion of the building, an entry corner now accessible from two sides instead of just North Capitol Street, a change in the NPRE logo to horizontal rather than vertical, satellite dishes aligned to lead your eye into the building, and a corner anchor icon still to be designed.  Bill Nussbaum of NPR described the changes.   Ms. Phelps asked whether there would be bicycle spaces, and Mr. Nussbaum said the building would have the “Cadillac” of bicycle parking facilities.  Mr. Dixon complimented Mr. Nussbaum on the presentation he made to the community and Ms. Phelps said she is glad the plaza is remaining. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr, Dixon seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation and support the modifications to the NPR concept design.  The motion passed without objection.

442-444 New York Avenue NW

This is an appeal of the Steuart Investment Company from an October 20, 2009 decision of the Zoning Administrator, DCRA, determining that a proposed commercial development does not comply with the combined lot development (opposite residential) provision under subsection 1706 (b)(2) in the DD/C-3 District at premises 442-44 New York Avenue NW.

Kinley Bray of Arent Fox explained that it is an issue regarding the definition of bonus density and how it applies to the combined lot development for Square 493 and Square 515N.

Steuart proposes to put all the commercial development in Square 483, and all the residential units in Square 515, which would result in 50 additional residential units.  Zoning feels that this should not be allowed based upon their definition of “bonus density” which they are applying to both commercial and residential combinations.  Steuart disagrees with the rule application.  This will be heard before BZA.  Motion:  Mr. Docter moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion that the ANC support the Committee’s recommendation and support the appeal of Steuart Investment Company.  The motion passed without objection.

Union Station Air Rights Zoning Amendment

A hearing on the issue will be held on May 13/20, 2010.  Mr. Amos reported this was a discussion item at the Committee so it could review open issues and plan how they would like to proceed on completing the analysis of the Union Station Air Rights zoning proposal in advance of a final  meeting with the Office of Planning and recommendation to the full ANC at its April meeting.

The committee has been compiling feedback from its request that questions and comments be submitted and any they felt had not been answered adequately be noted.  Answers from the Office of Planning are being prepared, and it was decided that the Committee would review the document one last time and provide any feedback or suggestions for the Office of Planning to the Committee Chair by Monday, March 15th., at which time all outstanding questions and suggestions would be forwarded to Matt Jessick at OP so he can prepare a response.

Ms. Phelps said that contrary to accusations that are now being circulated, the regulations on the project were put out months ago and there has been adequate time for public comment.

Mr. Hamilton said that:

Some of you may have been so fortunate as I was, or simply as old, to have lived through the sixties folk music craze.  If so, you probably knew Malvina Reynold’s wonderful song “Little Boxes,” which went something like this:

Little boxes, on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

Little boxes, little boxes

And they all looked just the same

Ms. Reynolds was writing about suburban American.  But she could just as well have been writing about K Street in Washington, DC where every building is a box, every building fills every square inch of its allotted space, and every box is exactly the same height.  Unfortunately, this makes economic sense for the developers, who are given very little leeway in what they are allowed to build.  In fact, the building and zoning restrictions in this town guarantee a certain architectural sameness and a quintessential DC level or mediocrity.  I can’t think of another city in the world that begs for nothing more than poor to middling structural design.

We now have an opportunity to change that, at least to some extent, in our very own neighborhood.  I speak, of course, about the potential development behind Union Station.  None other than our own Office of Planning is suggesting that the old rules could be relaxed to allow for a moor creative, interesting multi-use solution.  But there are those who still cannot think or see outside of the box.  They would have us develop another K Street behind Union Station with every square inch taken and every creative spirit crushed by economic necessity.

It is my hope that our neighbors, our committee members and my fellow commissioners will see beyond that limited vision.  We read in Proverbs that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  I would add that where vision is small we are all diminished.  Daniel Burnham, who designed our magnificent Union Station, admonished us to “make no little plans.”  It is time we followed his advice.

Alcoholic Beverage and Licensing Committee

Toscana – 601 2nd Street NE

This is a request to extend the hours for the outdoor café at Toscana.  Ms. Phelps reported that there is no committee report on this issue.  Mr. Richardson said he had knocked on adjoining doors, and had found five people who were supportive of the extension.  Andrew Kline, representing Toscana said that there are 40 seats in the enclosed patio, and 14 seats that are not enclosed, and in the unenclosed section they will stop serving at 11 p.m.,  Susan Hassett, a neighbor, said she is concerned about the hours, but she wanted to add that they’re trying very hard.  She said there had been an issue with garbage and she said it was corrected.  Ms. Phelps said that the issues about noise and garbage can be worked out in a voluntary agreement.  Mr. Richardson added that the ANC would protest the change in hours and withdraw it when a modified VA had been worked out.  Mr. Velasco said that they are planning on staying open until midnight and he doesn’t feel comfortable voting for any limitations on their hours.  Mr. Hamilton agreed.  Motion:  Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to support the modification in hours requested by Toscano, but to protest the modification until a modified VA is worked out.  Mr. Richardson will be authorized to represent the ANC in this matter.  The motion passed 7-1-1, with Mr. Hamilton opposed, and Mr. Velasco abstaining.

Hill Country – 410 7th Street NW

This is a request for support of a license with an entertainment endorsement for a Texas-style barbeque restaurant, which will be 78% food, and 22% entertainment.  The total potential room is for 544 people, with seating for 331.  There will be two bars, upstairs and downstairs.  They are asking for hours of Sun-Thursday – Noon – 2 am, and Friday and Saturday from Noon to 3 am. Mark Glasserman, Steve O’Brien, and John Shaw represented the restaurant, which is a branch of a New York establishment.  The NY establishment has 10,000 sq. ft., with 5,000 for seating.  The kitchen at that establishment closes at 10 p.m. through Wednesday.  They said they want to be part of the community, that they have had no complaints in New York and presented a letter from their Community Planning Board attesting to that.

Nanette Paris, of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said that there are three residential buildings in that block, but she is confidant that a VA can be worked out.  She said they will also be protesting.  Robert Liebscher who lives in the Lansburgh is concerned about happy hours with food specials, live music in a residential area, and people hitting the streets late at night.  He said that the ANC should make sure it’s a family restaurant, and there’s no abuse of alcohol.  He also urged consideration of other than live music.  Mark Otto, who resides at the Lafayette, said he is able to hear the noise of the buildout and that sound bounces around, which he doesn’t want after the place is open. Ms. Phelps said that the owners had provided their own sound engineer who was making certain that didn’t happen.  Kevin Wilsey, the General Manager of the Lansburgh, said he hoped to get something going as quickly as possible so the issues can be resolved.  Kenneth Crozey of Lansburgh Development said he had been to the NY establishment and asked how the space compares.  Mr. Glosserman said the DC basement space will hold about the same number of people.

Mr. Docter asked whether they were aware of any other liquor establishment that closes at 3 a.m., and was told that his hours are the maximum legal hours.

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to protest the application for a license with an entertainment endorsement by Hill Country, and withdraw the protest if Commissioner Docter can negotiate a VA satisfactory to the community.  The motion passed 5-0-2, with Mr. Velasco and Mr. Silver abstaining.

Muse – 6th Street NW

Mr. Docter reported that Muse was accused by ABRA of misconduct, and was called to a Show Cause hearing by ABRA.  The issue is still not resolved.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:18 p.m.