ANC 6C Report - July 2016

Commissioners shared an unfortunate discovery and sudden news during July’s meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C. For Commissioner Chris Miller, a FOIA request revealed that at least 55 of the more than 110 DC Public Schools are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ANC agreed to send a letter to the Department of General Services (DGS) requesting more compliance, which Miller agreed needs priority for the children attending those schools, who have the right to access their school anywhere. Commissioner Tony Goodman announced he will truncate his term in the fall as he has recently become chief of staff for At-Large Councilmember David Grosso.

The quorum: Karen Wirt (6C02 chair), Tony Goodman (6C06), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Scott Price (6C03), and Christopher Miller (6C05). Daniel Schiffman (6C01) was absent.

Neighbors Argue Over DaVita Demolition

The commissioners voted 3-2 to support the application to demolish the former DaVita Dialysis building at 300 Eighth St. NE and build a four-story residential condo building with a penthouse. But neighbors of the lot argued that by approving this application the ANC wasn’t allowing them to voice their concerns about potential traffic routes for the condo owners and drivers in the area. One neighbor of the site explained that his house, like others, was built before concrete foundations were standard, and any heightened level of traffic on the alley by his home causes the entire house to vibrate.

Eckenwiler explained that the approval of the Historic Preservation Application (HPA) didn’t address traffic or zoning concerns. Neighbors can bring up those issues at the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) meetings. Neighbors tried to argue that potential vibration damage to their historic houses should not be ignored at this stage.

Another neighbor added a thought to the design plans that did pertain to the HPA application. “I think the developer did a good job after the ANC asked him to go back on the C Street side,” he said. “But for the neighborhood that we’re in, that front lawn on Eighth Street doesn’t fit.”

ANC Requests New Bikeshare Racks

Commissioners unanimously supported a revised planned unit development (PUD) application for 301-333 N St. NE, with a few contingent requests. The developer must give certain funds to Two Rivers Public Charter School (1227 Fourth St. NE) to help offset construction inconveniences; must give $100,000 to the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) for a Capital Bikeshare station within 2,500 feet of the project (either ANC 5D or 6C); road signage must be visible for truck traffic to Third Street; and the proposed Maker Space on the ground floor must occupy the entire 3,000 square feet.

Goodman argued with the developer’s representative over past discussions about bike accessibility. Goodman said he frequently brought up the need to consider bike plans in the project, but the developer disagreed. Before they agreed on the $100,000 for DDOT, the developer questioned why city funds couldn’t go toward that need. “There’s no free market for Bikeshare stations,” Goodman responded.

Eckenwiler Calls Proposed Bill for ANCs More Damage than Help

The DC Council intended the proposed Omnibus Amendment of 2016 for governing the ANCs to help the commissioners, but Eckenwiler explained why he thinks the bill would cause more harm than good. Among several items, the amendment would require the ANC to review fully every construction permit application by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) – even for a new door, window, boiler – and render a decision within a 45-day waiting period. It would also deny the “group of five rule” for alcohol license cases, which currently allows any group of five neighbors to protest an alcohol license within a 200-foot radius.

In addition, commissioners would receive a $50 stipend for each meeting, which would take away government funds for grants and projects. Commissioners currently serve without compensation. The ANC would be required to give 14 days’ notice for anyone participating at the next meeting, which might sometimes be impossible because the meetings that set the ANC’s agenda convene within days of the monthly meeting.

The ANC voted to send a letter to At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds opposing the legislation. “I think it’s bad for the ANCs,” Eckenwiler said. “And I think it’s bad for citizens.”

Continued Opposition to Sixth Street Addition

Faulty architectural designs and a failure to fix damaged shared walls forced the ANC again to oppose a request to enlarge the building at 518 Sixth St. NE. Eckenwiler was dumbfounded at the meeting when the owner’s representative presented plans different from what he had reviewed days earlier, and after specifically requesting no changes be made. “There’s a description of a chimney that’s no longer there,” he said. “We know it’s no longer there, and the applicant knows it’s not there because it was removed recently.”

Engineer Stamps Structural Approval Without Proper Credentials

An engineer looking at 629 L St. NE stamped the plans for the site with a structural engineer’s approval, but Eckenwiler told the ANC the man is not actually a structural engineer. The building wall also drew concerns about the proximity to its property line and the fact it is not fire efficient. “It’s an untruthful document in support of the application,” Eckenwiler said. The ANC voted to oppose in a letter.

Apollo on H Street Offers Help

The mixed-use Apollo development on the 600 block of H Street NE offered to help design around a neighboring National Park Service (NPS) park to clean up the area. A trapezoidal lot has a fence encroaching on the area now, and the ANC agreed to push the resolution of any land disputes by sending a letter to the NPS.

Other Actions

The ANC again voted to oppose the request of Toscana Cafe (601 Second St. NE) to change from a class D to class C restaurant to allow for the sale of spirits. Eckenwiler explained that the owners continued to fight a settlement agreement with the ANC.

XO (15 K St. NE) won the approval of the ANC to operate an unenclosed sidewalk cafe, so long as the owners follow the same rules as the already approved summer garden: closing at 10 p.m., no music outside, and dogs allowed. Goodman hopes this will lighten and enliven the area to deter prostitution.

DC Water posted two-month-long No Parking signs along the 700 block of Fourth Street NE. The ANC voted to send a letter to DC Water and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen advising that the time period revoking residential parking permits is inappropriate.

The ANC supported the development at 1005 North Capitol St. NE, so long as it includes bike racks.

Price requested DDOT to perform a traffic-calming study at Seventh and C streets NE.

 

ANC 6C regularly meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. There is no meeting in August. The next meeting is on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.