Wednesday, April 11, 2012
214 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Present: Commissioners Dixon, Goodman, Price, Richardson, Wilsey and Wirt
Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to accept the agenda as presented. The motion passed without objection.
Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the February minutes as presented. The motion passed without objection, with the caveat that corrections will be accepted for one week.
Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the March minutes as presented. The motion passed without objection, with the caveat that corrections will be accepted for one week.
- Treasurer’s Report
Mr. Richardson delivered the Treasurer’s Report. It showed an opening balance of $81,731.95. There were three DC Government allotments in the amount of $4,618.47, $5,460.24 and $4,053.47, and an interest payment of $.65. Checks were written to the ANC Security fund for $25 (Check #1227), $270 (Check #1228) to Roberta Weiner for taking and transcribing minutes for the January 2012 ANC meeting; $2500 (Check #1229) to the Mt. Vernon Triangle Community District for a grant; and $1250 (Check #1229) to Ron Dellums for meeting facilitation, leaving a balance in the checking account of $91,819.73. Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.
(The discussion of a second grant occurred later in the meeting after the presenter arrived, and is reported later in the minutes on page 5.)
JO Wilson Elementary PTA
This is a request from the JO Wilson Elementary School PTA for $3850 for a school production of Annie, the Musical. This year the school production will be held at the Atlas Theatre, and there will be a performance for the community as well as the regular performances for the school community. The school was represented by Samantha Caruth, PTA President, and Michael Taylor, the school’s music teacher. Ms. Wirt said there were some problems with the grant and it will approved contingent on an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Richardson said that he spoke with the Auditor’s office, and the project for which the grant is requested falls into a grey area—is it educational, which is fundable, or is it entertainment, which is not. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to approve a grant of $3850 to the JO Wilson Elementary PTA for a production of Annie, contingent on a sign-off from the DC Auditor/OAG office. The motion passed unanimously.
- Brief Community Comments
The Commission decided to consider the four events on the agenda en bloc because the logistics for each event had already been cleared with the affected commissioner, Mr. Wilsey:
- Bike DC, a non-competitive citywide bike ride, on Sunday, May 11th
- Stop the Silence, Sunday, April 29th
- Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Saturday and Sunday, May 5thand 6th
- Walk for Hope, Saturday, April 27th
Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to write to the Emergency Management Task Force supporting the four events listed above. The motion passed without objection.
Stuart-Hobson Middle School
Joe Saunders presented plans for the renovation of the Stuart-Hobson Middle School, the two-year project will begin in May with the gymnasium, to be followed over the summer with the first floor. In October construction of the Museum Magnet/Arts integration addition will begin. Next summer modernization of the second and third floors will occur.
The emphasis of the renovation will be to make it a sustainable building LEED Silver certification. Among the features it will have are storm water management, including the reduction of pollution, and a green roof.
Mr. Price asked rhetorically when the ANC have the opportunity to approve the design, and then said “the DC government has systems in place that don’t include ANC input. Mel Butler of the DC General Services Administration, who was in the audience, then got up and said that he would be happy to spend time with the ANC to go over the plans. Mr. Price said that wasn’t the point, just that the ANC is not consulted on many things. The item was an informational, nonvoting matter, to be voted on in July.
- Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee
Committee Twitter Account
Committee Chair Mark Eckenwiler began the meeting by announcing that the Committee now has a Twitter account–@6C_PZE (www.twitter.com/6C_PZE), Along with meeting agendas and issues, he said the account was set up to improve communication with the community about PZE actions and matters within the committee’s jurisdiction such as HPRB and Zoning decisions, staff reports, etc.
Hansel Bauman of Gallaudet University gave a brief overview at the April PZE meeting of their tentative ten-year Campus Plan, which will substantially alter the SW corner of the campus to relocate the maintenance building on 6th Street and create a major pedestrian entrance at 6th and Florida Avenue. Mr. Bauman said Gallaudet will hold a series of “community conversations” scheduled for April 14, 16 and 17. Details were posted on the ANC 6C website.
33 New York Avenue NE
This is a request for support for a BZA application for a variance and a special exception to permit the construction of a 192-room Hyatt hotel at 33 New York Avenue NE. It is on the current site of Mirrors nightclub. The hearing is on May 8th.
The first area of relief involves a reduction in the number of parking spaces provided. The regulations require 52 spaces. The applicant had originally sought to provide 39 spaces, but DDOT would not permit a curb cut on the New York Avenue side of the parcel. There is more than enough space for parking within the neighborhood; a study of parking within a one block area shows there are at least 200 plus spaces. There is now a single curb cut on the N Street side of the buildings, and a second curb cut cannot be accommodated. Additionally, the applicant wants to direct pedestrian activity to N Street.
The special exception is for the roof structures, which are required to be set back 1:1; although most of the roof structures comply with that, one small area adjacent to the court on N Street cannot be set back because of the building core.
Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/ Mr. Price seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation to support the BZA application for a variance and a special exception for JPG/New York Avenue Hotel LLC at 33 New York Avenue NE. The motion passed without objection.
216 7th Street NE
This is a request for support of a BZA application by Rick and Alexis Juneja for a special exception to allow a rear garage addition to a one-family row house not meeting the lot occupancy and nonconforming structure requirements in the R-4 district.
The Junejas want to construct a garage on unoccupied space at the rear of their property. Because the garage would increase the lot occupancy to 67.3%, exceeding the allowable 60%, a special exception is needed. They have letters of support from their neighbors that indicate their light, air, and privacy are not affected.
The committee pointed out that the plans the applicant presented show part of the garage closer than12’ to the center of the alley, where the law requires such garages to be set back a full 12’ at all points. Subsequent to the committee meeting the applicant provided revised drawings showing the garage set back the full 12’. Motion: Mr. Price moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation that the full ANC support the BZA application for a special exception to construct a garage at 216 7th Street NE, using the revised drawings (submitted April 9th). The motion passed without objection.
330 7th Street NE – Northeast Library
This is a request for support for a Historic Preservation concept design for an addition to the west façade of the Northeast Library, 330 7th Street NE, part of a renovation of the library. This application applies only to the staircase, not the entire building, and the applicant will need to seek HPRB design approval for more specific drawings/materials before a permit is issued.
- The DCPL proposes to undertake extensive interior renovations of the library building, including the relocation of interior staircases. The applicant proposes to build an addition on the west façade of the library building enclosing a new staircase. The renovation has been in the works since 2007, and DCPL has been in regular touch with the Friends of the Northeast Library and residents of the community.
The addition will be located on top of an existing garage, and would be brick with glass facades on the north and south facades, The library’s cooling systems, currently on top of the garage, would be moved to the top of the addition.
Donald Stocks, a neighbor next door to the library, expressed his concern about the noise of the HVAC unit all day on 7th Street. He also mentioned the unpaved alley on the south side of the building that is a breeding ground for mosquitos. He said he is not as concerned about the addition as he is about the air conditioner and the noise. Bill Sisolak raised the issue that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) issued its report and it had concerns about wanting to see drawings that are more detailed and more in depth. Dru Tallant mentioned the sightline from the property on the left, where there is a dogleg where the glass looks into a window.
The committee had several caveats to its approval. Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to recommend that the full ANC accept the committee’s recommendation to support the Historic Preservation concept application provided that the applicant:
- Improve the relationship/alignment between the windowsof the original building and those of the addition.
- Modify the addition’s roofline to make it more distinctive.
- Add an archway or other architectural feature to better define the ramp entrance.
- Explore adaptive uses (e.g. as outdoor amenity space) of the area currently occupied by the existing driveway.
- Ensure that the addition’s rooftop AC unit and other equipment not be visible from the public right-of-way.
- Verify that the new addition not encroach on the neighboring property.
The motion passed 6-0, unanimously.
1005 North Capitol Street
This is a request from Be The Change for a letter of support from the ANC to accompany a grant application they will send to DHCD for funding.
The eventual project will entail constructing 121 1BR units, half (61 units) for households below 60% AM ($45,180) and 60 units for veterans transitioning from homelessness affordable housing with ground floor retail. Be the Change is the development organization of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. Community Solutions (CS) is a national non-profit entityactive in developing affordable permanent supportive housing.
DC government owns the parcel at 1005 North Capitol Street, and CS has an exclusive rights agreement for a long-term lease. The applicant intends to seek 10-15% of the development cost pursuant to an RFP with a May 30th due date. The developers have been in contact with St. Phillips Church to discuss any concerns. As a result of concerns about maintenance access, the applicant plans to set back the project from the ground-floor lot line in order to facilitate such access.
Mr. Dixon commented that St. Phillips Church is nearly 200 years old, and he is sensitive to the church’s needs. He said he would like to meet with the developers and the pastor and discuss the project. Mr. Richardson commented that the project has good support, and Mr. Dixon said he is going to sit with them before he votes on the final project. Mr. Goodman said that he wanted to thank the people for bringing the project to his community, and particularly for the retail space. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/ Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation that the full ANC send the requested letter of support to DHCD for financing for the project at 1005 North Capitol Street. The motion passed 6-0, unanimously.
Expansion of the Historic District
Dru Tallant announced that the study of the building inventory needed for any discussion of expansion of the historic district has been completed, and it was time to move on to the next step, which is a series of community meetings, He suggested that, because of their tenuous status at the present time—e.g., a couple of historic townhouses are in danger of being lost to the new developer of the project near Logan School—the first area to be considered for designation is 2nd to 4th and F to H Streets. There are also developable properties behind the Logan School, and that area is the most vulnerable. There are funds available to do the project for the four squares.
Mr. Goodman noted that the PUD included funds for many more blocks and he disagreed that the discussion should be limited to a few blocks. He said the conversation about the project should be inclusive and every house in the neighborhood should be leafleted, it’s a small area. He said he had received six or seven responses from a message on the issue he had send out on his listserv. Mr. Tallant said he had discussed this with Mr. Chapman and Mr. Caldecott at the Historic Preservation Office and they had no objection to the small area. Mr. Goodman urged that Mr. Tallant be sensitive to the development at 5th and H and 6th and H Streets. Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion that the ANC assist Mr. Tallant in facilitating meetings on enlarging the historic district across the entire area of the survey, from F to H Streets and from the edge of 6C (2nd Street) to 8th Street. The motion passed without objection.
700 E Street NE
Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to authorize Commissioner Bill Crews with PZE Committee Vice Chair Ryan McGinniss as alternate to represent ANC 6C in the matter of the stained glass windows at 700 A Street NE, the motion passed without objection.
- Grants (continued)
This is a request for support of a grant of $4943 to the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA on behalf of the Peabody School to enhance the outdoor classroom spaces and gardens at Peabody and provide staff training to allow for essential and age-appropriate nature learning experiences during the school day, before and after school and after care programs, and summer camps.
The commission was told that the outdoor classrooms are an extension of the school’s indoor classrooms for learning purposes, and that DCPS does not fund programs like this. The ANC was reminded that that the Garden Club and the ANC, among others, have contributed to the Peabody garden programs in the past. Mr. Richardson said that the same caveats applied as with the other grant, that it would have to be checked with the Auditor’s office to make certain that it was an acceptable allocation of funds regarding payment to an individual to provide gardening instruction.
Mr. Dixon mentioned that the garden at the Walker Jones School was loved by the kids and the seniors in his community, and there is a significant garden for the classroom cooking curriculum at the school. Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to approve a grant of $4943 to the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA with the caveat that it has to be approved by the DC Auditor/OAG. The motion passed without objection.
- Transportation and Public Space Committee
Joe McCann, Chair of the Transportation and Public Space Committee, presented the following issues that had recently come before the committee.
Visitor Parking Passes
Mark Eckenwiler made a presentation on his view that the regulations governing visitor parking passes should be modified. Previously, visitors were entitled, under MPD policy, to a maximum of two 15-day parking passes, but that now has been modified to allow issuance of an unlimited number of permits to a single out-of-state vehicle.
Motion: Mr. Price moved/ Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to send a letter to Councilmember Wells requesting that he seek a modification of the municipal regulations to permit the issuance of visitor parking passes for two 15-day periods per year for any single vehicle. The motion passed unanimously, 5-0 (Mr. Richardson having excused himself and departed to prepare for a business trip).
Sixth Engine 438 Massachusetts Avenue NW
This is a request for support for a sidewalk seating area for Sixth Engine, 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW, a new restaurant in a historic fire house incorporated into a residential building.
The establishment is an upscale restaurant with a neighborhood bar. The entryway is set back from the sidewalk, forming an L with the building, and the tables would fill in the area, which will be enclosed by planters. The establishment has its approvals from ABRA, and they have applied to close the outside at midnight. Inside, they are open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on weekends. They do not have a VA, but have the approval of both 400 and 438 Massachusetts Avenue. 400 is a commercial condo. The building is owned by Douglas Development.
They are planning for eight four-person tables and six two-person tables, and will have an ADA table. The focus of the establishment is dining, not the bar. Everything will be put away at night. They will have umbrellas which will help mask the sound. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation that the ANC approve the public space permit to allow a sidewalk cafe at Engine Six, 400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. The vote was 5-0, unanimous.
Corner Bakery – 6th and H Street NW
This is a request for support for a public space permit for outdoor seating at the Corner Bakery at 6th and H Street NW. They are asking for five tables, bordered by a 3’ high fence that is moveable, on stanchions, and an awning that comes down over the tables. They are open from 6 a.m. to 7 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There are trash receptacles inside. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation that the ANC approve the public space permit for a sidewalk cafe at the Corner Bakery, 6th and Street NW. The vote was 5-0, unanimous.
Maryland Avenue Traffic Design
Mr. Price has been active in the efforts to solve the critical traffic problems on Maryland Avenue NE beginning at 8th Street and continuing to Stanton Park. According to Mr. Price, the treacherous stretch of Maryland Avenue NE where it intersects with 7thand D Streets has been, over the years, the site of numerous accidents, and “almost-accidents” with people barely making it successfully across the street. Mr. Price said that not only is it the longest intersection in the area but it may be the most hazardous.
He presented a map of a redesigned Maryland Avenue to the ANC which contains the construction of medians and new curbs that will change the shape of the streets and, according to Price, make them safer. The proposal contains nine points:
- Close off 7thstreet south of Maryland Ave to traffic from the north with a curb extension from the corner of the 700 block of MD and D, allowing traffic from MD Ave, east-bound to enter onto 7th St. southbound.
- Move the Bikesharestation on the south side of the 600 block of D street onto the curb extension in Item 1 above.
- Reduce MD Ave to one lane northeast bound from Stanton Park NE to 13thStreet.
- Reduce MD. Ave to one lane southbound from13th Street, except for the block from 7dth St. to Stanton Park, which will be two lanes.
- Install a wider median on MD Ave so that people will feel safe crossing MD. Ave one lane at a time.
- Install a pedestrian-controlled traffic light at the intersection of 7thSt. and MD Ave, and D Street and MD Ave, that will pause traffic for 15 seconds, but without affecting the timing of the lights on MD Ave from 9th Street to Stanton Park.
- Add curb extensions to improve line-of-sight at critical corners.
- Reconfigure the intersection of 9thStreet and MD Ave, to discourage MD Ave commuter traffic from leaking onto local streets.
- Delegate the final design details and discussions with DDOT to the Commissioner of SMD 6C06 (Mr. Price).
Mr. Price said that there are studies that show that there is excess capacity on MD Ave and the changes will not slow traffic down. Motion: Mr. Price moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation to incorporate the changes in his letter as a viable solution for the problems at the intersection. The ANC also urges that negotiations take place with ANC 6A. The motion passed 5-0, unanimously.
- Alcoholic Beverage Committee
B & M Food Store – 214 New York Avenue NE
This is a request for a waiver from the ban on single sales. The store has had the waiver since 2009. There have been no problems with the store, and it is surrounded by Ward 5, which has no moratorium. Mr. Dixon said that Brenda Keys, the proprietor, is good for the community, and the kids love her. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to support the request by B&M Food Store for a waiver from the single sales moratorium. The motion passed without objection.
Oasis Liquor – 1179 3rd Street NE
This is a license renewal for Oasis Liquor where Chang Choi is the new owner. Mr. Goodman said there have been problems with the store and an active fight about Oasis re-opening. According to a neighbor, it was closed for many years, and because the store had been bad for the neighborhood there was an ugly fight when they wanted to re-open. “They won. We lost,” There have, however, been many changes. Mr. Choi has made it clear he wants to be a good neighbor. There is now a Voluntary Agreement; they are required to clean up twice a day; and it was pointed out that there is no loitering outside the store. It was reported that there are several other stores in the neighborhood that sell alcoholic beverages. It was also reported that the Capitol Hill North Neighborhood Assn. was organized as a result of the debate over Oasis. Mr. Wilsey said that no one had brought any concerns to the Alcoholic Beverage Committee. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/ Ms Wirt seconded a motion to support the license renewal for Oasis Liquors. The motion passed without objection.
Liquor License Hours Extensions
Mr. Wilsey raised the issue of Mayor Gray’s budget plan to extend the hours of establishments that serve alcohol as a means of raising revenues for the city. He said there are many problems with the proposal, including that Metro shuts down before the proposed closing hours, that all VAs would have to be redone, and that there are other ways of raising even more money. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to send a letter to the Mayor and all members of the City Council expressing the Commission’s opposition to the proposal. The motion passed without objection.
The Commission meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM.