October 2012

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Avenue NE

Present: Commissioners Crews, Dixon, Goodman, Price, Richardson, Silver, Wilsey and Wirt

The meeting was convened at 7 p.m.

  1. Agenda

Motion: Mr. Price moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the agenda as presented.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Minutes

Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the September minutes as presented.  The motion passed without objection, with the caveat that corrections will be accepted for one week.

  1. Treasurer’s Report


Mr. Richardson submitted a draft budget for the ANC for FY 2012-2013 for study by the ANC.  It is due November 6th.

Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson presented the following expenses for approval; Roberta Weiner submitted a bill for $296 for transcribing minutes for the Public Space Committee for October, and the full ANC for September. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the expenses.  The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Richardson delivered the Treasurer’s Report for September.  It showed an opening balance of $82,485.12.  There was a quarterly allotment of $5,041.34 and an interest payment of $.69.  A check was written for $166.50 for transcribing the July 2012 minutes; $185 for transcribing the July 2012 minutes; $83.15 for transcribing the September Public Space and Transportation Committee meeting; and $64.85 for representing the ANC at an ABRA hearing that no-one else was able to cover, for a total of $479.50. (Check #1251), leaving a balance in the checking account of $84,029.74.  Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.

Mr. Richardson then delivered the Treasurer’s Report for September.  It showed an opening balance of $79,836.56.  There was an interest payment of $.67.  A check was written for $210 to Andrea Ferster for legal services relating to an ABRA case (Check #1247); and $65 to Karen Wirt as reimbursement for PO Box rental (Check #1248) leaving a balance in the checking account of $79,467.23.  Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.

Mr. Richardson commented that there are new people working in the Auditor’s office and he has had to submit documents when they have been asked for two or three times and he has had to bring them in.  These are problems on their part, not ours, and it has been frustrating. Ms. Wirt mentioned that the ANC’s allotment will be smaller next year, and the ability to give grants will be reduced.

  1. Transportation and Public Space Committee

Committee chair Joe McCann introduced the following issues that came before the committee:


NoMa BID Public Realm Design

Robin Eve Jasper, Executive Director of the NoMa BID, presented a BID plan for open space and parks In NoMa where none exist currently.

While not having the money to build parks, Jasper said, the BID did have the funds for a study. Working with AECOM, a consulting firm looking at potential needs and uses for NoMa green space. They have come up with a plan for creating a series of open spaces along the NoMa spine, with a major green space at 3rd and N Street, that will be suitable for concerts, the farmer’s market, and the summer  outdoor film festival. The space will open up to hold up to about 500 people or smaller groups. The plan requires the developers of the buildings to the north and south of the plaza to cede about 25 feet of their property, and she said both owners appear interested.  There will be two levels of retail at the Greyhound bus terminal site, and it will be designated by DDOT as a Festival Street so that it can be closed easily for special events.

She pointed out that a second piece of the project that could be implemented in the short term is a small park at 6th Street, which is temporarily named PEPCO Park for its location at the site of an unused PEPCO station at Florida Avenue. She said the park could be included in the Florida Avenue renewal project that is being funded by the federal government and, in fact, she said she sees pieces of funding coming from various federal and local sources in the near future.

Motion: The ANC voted unanimously to accept the committee’s recommendation to encourage the NoMa BID to secure the funding for the NoMa Public Realm Project including the park at 3rd and N Street and the park at 6th Street and Florida Avenue NE.  The ANC recommends consideration of bicycle access to the Park sites. The motion passed without objection.

88 M Street NE

This is a request for support of streetscaping including special 3’x 5’ pavers, five planters on M Street, two on Patterson Street NE for a three-phase project.  The first phase is a 300,000 sq. ft. office/retail building at 88 M .Street NE. The building will have a fitness center, bike room and a possible conference center, and the design is less about the office building than to make the retail attractive to people; hence the paver and planters.  There is a broad sidewalk and the planters will extend to the curb. Eventually there will be thee buildings.  There are currently electrical vaults on the street, but they will be moved to Patterson Street, behind M Street.  Patterson will be made more attractive with tree boxes and grates to curb. Mr. McCann said that the Committee had voted unanimously to approve a public space permit for 88 M Street NE. Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to approve a public space permit for pavers, planters and other street improvements for 88 M Street NE.  The motion passed 7-0-1, with Mr. Goodman, a former employee of Skanska, the developer, recusing himself.

Two-Way Traffic on I Street between 3rd and 4th Street NE

Mr. Goodman reported that there is a condo development going up at I street between 3rd and 4th Streets NE, and 4th Street is a one-way street, making it extremely difficult for people to access the garage, with its entrance on I Street, having to go around the block to reach the entrance. Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to ask DDOT to change the one block of I Street between 3rd and 4th Street NE to a two-way street.  The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.

300 Massachusetts Avenue NW

This is a request for support for a public space permit for an outdoor café for Wise Guy’s Pizza at 300 Massachusetts Avenue NW.  The establishment is next door to The Carving Room, whose outdoor Café was approved by the ANC. They are asking for four tables and nine chairs, and will be serving New York style pizza and New York bagels.  Their request has been approved by HPRB.  They will have two planters at each end of their space, and the space is 11’ wide x 40’ long. They will not be serving alcohol, and their hours will be the same as the Carving Room, Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support a public space permit for Wise Guys Pizza at 300 Massachusetts Ave. NW.  The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.

Alley Closing between H and I, 6th and 7th Streets

At issue is  a private alley between 6th and 7th Street NE, entered on 6th Street, which the developer of the Murry’s /H Street Storage building site should be turned into a public alley.  Mr. Silver pointed out that the Blair Shelter has been right there for a long time and it’s a good shelter.  Mr. McCann pointed out that there are other residential buildings located at the site, and those buildings will be incorporated into the north-south axis of the alley. He said that the Committee did not take a position, but talked through the issues and felt that more time was needed to resolve them.

One issue is that 6th Steet is the access to the alley and DDOT has a problem with that.  A question was asked as to why a vote was necessary that evening, and Mr. McCann said it was in response to a formal query from the Office of the Surveyor wanting the ANC’s position.  Mr. Crews suggested that here be two votes: Motion: Mr. Silver moved/Mr.  Richardson seconded a motion to support the alley closing on 6th Street` The motion failed 5-3. Motion: Mr. Price moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to advise the Office of the Surveyor and the City Council that the ANC needs an additional 30 days to reach a decision.  The motion passed 5-3, and the issue was tabled until further discussion occurs  between the developer and the neighbors.

  1. Brief Community Comment

Northeast Library

Mr. Price introduced the librarian of the Northeast Library, who gave a brief summary of the renovation that the Library is beginning to undertake.  He said that the Southeast Library was extending its hours to meet the demand of having clients from both units during the NE Library closing.

Law Enforcement 5 K Event – October 14

Motion:  Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to write a letter of support to Emergency Management Task Force supporting the Law Enforcement 5 K Race. The motion passed without objection.

Boys andGirls Club 5K for Kids – November 18

Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to send a letter of support to the Emergency Management Task Force in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs 5K on November 18, utilizing the new route.  The motion passed without objection.

Spike in Crime in the area of 8th Street and Constitution Avenue NE

Mr. Price reported a spike in crime in his SMD at 8th Street and Constitution Avenue and about a good meeting he had with MPD about the situation, and efforts to make the alley safer.

Mr. Goodman said that people should call 911 all the time, because if you’re not calling them 911 they don’t know what’s going on,

5th and I Streets NW Development   

Mr. Simpson, one of the developers of the site, spoke briefly about the 132-room boutique hotel he will be constructing on the site.  The land is scheduled to be surplused in November and they will begin work on the entire site at that time.

  1. Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee

Air Rights Projects aka Capital Crossings Return to L’Enfant

This is a request for support for a second stage PUD for an office building with ground floor retail—called the South Block.  The proposal to deck over I-395 south of Massachusetts Avenue NW, which received several PUDs last year; and some also received second stage PUDs.  The current application relates to the proposed office building on a portion of the block bounded by E, F, 2nd and 3rd Street NW.

The proposed design calls for a 130” building, the maximum allowed by Zoning Commission rule, and contains glass curtain walls with recesses and two-story setback terraces covered by a “solar shade” at the roofline.  There will be a central atrium, and the mechanical penthouses will rise above 130 feet, but will not be visible from the sidewalk. The building will feature a co-generation plant, and will meet LEED Platinum standards.

The applicant expects to begin moving utilities prior to construction in about ten months, and will begin construction six months later. Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr., Wilsey seconded a motion to support the committee’s vote to support the granting of a second stage PUD for the I-395 Air Rights Project. The motion passed without objection, 8-0.

Golden Rule – 1101 1st Street NW

This is a request for support of a special exception to allow a portion of the required off-street parking spaces for the property to be located just south of the property.  This project has previously be approved the ANC and the Zoning Commission.

The applicant is moving ahead on Phase II of the project and is constructing a multi-story apartment building on the NW corner of 1st and K Street NW.   In order to construct the building, the applicant must subdivide the existing property, which consists of two lots currently representing a single record lot, into two record lots. However, some of the parking spaces for Phase I (northern portion) are in the south portion of the site.  Because the applicant seeks to locate 10 of the required northern-lot parking spaces in the basement of the high-rise apartment building on the new south lot,  a special exception is necessary . Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to support the committee’s vote and  a special exception for the Golden Rule apartment house for parking spaces. The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.

Stuart Hobson Middle School – 410 E Street NE

The applicant is seeking concept approval from HPRB for two new additions to a 1927 school building:  3-story Arts Addition on the 4th Street side and Service addition at the rear- northern edge.

The Arts Addition would provide much needed classroom/rehearsal space for various activities and programs. Materials include limestone-colored masonry classing and an aluminum curtain wall with solar shading on asymmetrically arranged multistory window openings.  An adjacent canopy, to the north of the addition, at an angle to 4th Street, would mark new student entrance to the school.  The concept includes a green roof and improved landscaping along 4th Street, including pervious paving and an underground water system for collecting roof storm water.  The building would be LEED Silver.

The North addition would be faced with brick to match the existing building and provide mechanical rooms; they plan to remove the top 15-20′ of the school smokestack, which suffered significant damage during the 2011 earthquake, as repairing it would be prohibitively expensive.

Mr. Eckenweiler reported that the committee members expressed substantial reservations about the modern design and the materials, and its “bunker-like” appearance.  People expressed concern about the entrance on 4th Street, when   there is a historic entrance on E Street, and were told that a nondescript entrance into the cafeteria on 4th Street is the popular entrance for students. The new entrance would provide additional space for security screening for students. The E Street lobby would continue to be used for visitors during regular hours.

Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Price seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC oppose the request by Stuart Hobson School for support of a HPRB concept review for a modification to the west façade of the building.  The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.  The commissioners want to see new plans by the architect in the future.

Miscellaneous Zoning Amendments

Mr. Eckenweiler said that the Committee had discussed the latest draft amendments to the zoning regulations, this one having to do with building heights, benefits allowed in the granting of PUDs, best and final offers (BAFO) and the definition of “Applicant.” The Committee made several recommendations on the section of the amendments, but the full Commission did not vote.

Zoning Amendments on Pervious Surface Minimum Requirements and Green Area Ratio (GAR).

Mr. Eckenweiler presented information on a new chapter of the regulations covering Pervious Surface Minimum Requirements and Green Area Ratio (GAR). These amendments, he said, mark both an important new direction for the District’s environmental regulations, and the potential to place a substantial new regulatory burden on DC residents.

The regulations include a chart that contains the minimum GAR for various zones, beginning with 0.1 for manufacturing//light industry/commercial to .40 for R-5.  These would apply to all new buildings and additions to existing structures. The regulations then provide a formula for calculating GAR, ranging from trees and plants to green roofs and grass, each of which is assigned a numeric value. Every applicant for zoning relief will have to submit a detailed plan prepared by a Certified Landscape Expert, defined in the regulations.

Similarly, but more simply, a minimum pervious surface area will be established in R-1 to R-4 residential districts based on a comparison between the green area and the total lot area   –e.g. 20% to 50%. The regulations also establish landscaping requirements for parking lots with more than ten spaces.

Mr. Eckenweiler reported that his committee felt that while it was an interesting and important issue for the District, this was not the vehicle for dealing with it.  Calling it overly complicated and difficult, if not impossible to enforce, he said it placed an onerous burden on developers and residents.  Mr. Price suggested that the ANC oppose the package, saying it is moving in the right direction and it should go back to the Office of Planning to make it better.   Community member Joel Kelty said that it is excessive regulation, but that it won’t be enforced, so it is not good and productive.  Motion: Mr. Goodman moved/Mr. Crews seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to oppose the proposed regulations because they are unnecessarily complex, convoluted and arbitrary; because they would prove a substantial financial burden on applicants, including residential homeowners; and that the new complex regulation would be unlikely to be enforced equitably or even at all.  The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.

  1. Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee

Thaanja Indian Food Bar – 1335 2nd Street NE

This is a request for support for an alcohol license for Thaanja Indian Food Bar, 1335 2nd Street NE.  The owner has also applied, successfully, for a permit for an outdoor seating space.  The establishment will be an informal restaurant that has signed a voluntary agreement. Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Mr. Goodman seconded a motion to support the granting of a liquor license to Thaanja Indian Food Bar, 1335 2nd Street NE.  The motion passed unanimously, 8-0.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.