ANC 6C Report - November 2016

Neighbors came out in force at the November meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C to oppose a planned two-story carriage house on the 100 block of Eighth Street NE. The arguments over the building’s proposed height, the alley’s overall accessibility to large vehicles like fire trucks, and the potential crowding of an already small passageway filled the meeting. Though commissioners sided with neighbors for now, the issue surfaced concerns heard frequently around Capitol Hill about the appropriate use and development of lots in and around the area’s non-uniform alleyways.

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

Rifts Over Alley Size, Use

Several neighbors who share an alley behind lot 108-110 Eighth St. NE took turns sharing with the ANC their opposition to a by-right planned third-story addition and two-story carriage house at the site. The owners of the site currently have a one-story carriage shed at the back of the lot abutting the alley. The plan is to construct the carriage house on the same footprint as the current building, and also build a third-story addition onto the main house. Neighbors argued that this height would disrupt their privacy, especially if the owner plans to use it as a separate residence. The owner denied that speculation and said no cooking amenities will go into the carriage house. “That structure from my yard will completely obliterate the sightline of my house to the houses behind it,” one neighbor said.

The Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee (PZE) voted 2-1 with two abstentions to support, with the conditions that the developer perform a proper sightline study and fix the material for the building’s siding and front door. The ANC voted 5-1 to oppose the project until the developer reports on more conversations with neighbors adjacent to the property, and whether they support the plan.

ANC Considers Giving Input on Nats Park Digital Displays

Commissioners voted 4-0 with one abstention to ask the ANC’s committees to provide recommendations for whether the ANC should oppose proposed digital display boards outside of Nats Park in Southwest. Commissioner Price wanted to research how the ANC handled similar proposed boards along H Street NE. Commissioner Eckenwiler pointed to Digi Media Communications as an example of unwanted business practices; the DC Attorney General took the company to court earlier in 2016 because of illegal signs it put up around the city.

Third Street Building Proposal ‘Inappropriate’

The planned two-unit development on a vacant lot at 434 Third St. NE received disdain from the ANC and a letter of opposition to the plan. The architect, unlicensed in DC, requested a development that is three stories high with stucco on the sides and cornice treatment not in alignment with the rest of the neighborhood. Eckenwiler said the PZE Committee also didn’t like the fact that the owner of this building has a stop-work order on a site at 229 E St. NE. The commissioners urged the owner to attend the December PZE meeting.

Support for New Union Life ‘Darth Vader’ Development

The ANC voted in support of the modified planned unit development (PUD) application from Douglas Development to fix the building at 111 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The plan increases the building’s footprint and includes substantial renovations such as glass treatments, a fresh wrap around the building, and architectural styling. Commissioners requested the addition of electric car parking for the building’s garages, prohibition of left turns onto H Street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and ground-floor bike storage if possible.

The developer also addressed commissioners’ concerns over an old tree that was chopped down to allow a Digi Media Communications digital display board to show through. The commissioners believe the removal was illegal and believe that the Digi Media signs are illegal in that area. Douglas Development’s representative said that while Digi Media is a tenant they must answer to the law on this charge. Douglas can’t terminate the company’s lease until litigation finishes, though.

Noise Complaints at Storey Park

Neighbors around Storey Park (1005 First St. NE) complained of high decibel levels during outdoor events at the site, and the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) said it’s working with the site coordinators to prevent the noise. “It’s their intention that it won’t happen again,” said Christine Healey, ANC 6C Parks and Events Committee chair.

Consolidating Streetscape Guidelines for NoMa

The ANC voted to send a letter of support to the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) for changes to the streetscape guidelines for the NoMa BID. The goal is to consolidate two competing guidelines from 2006 and 2012 to make the requirements clear and to prioritize building a robust tree canopy and support proper stormwater collection.

Commissioner Goodman supported the plan but argued against any sidewalk and pedestrian plans that might reduce the width to smaller than six feet, move the edge away from the crosswalk, or fail to meet required handicap guidelines. He pointed to the First Street NE plan and also the design at K Street by Mount Vernon Square as examples of unsafe designs for pedestrians. “I fear that it will not be safe for people with disabilities,” he said. He requested that the commissioners include his concerns in the letter.

Other Actions

Commissioner Eckenwiler said the negotiations with Toscana (601 Second St. NE) finally resulted in a settlement agreement for the new classification on its liquor license.

Commissioner Goodman said DDOT is starting the cycle track pilot program for M Street NE, but that he opposes DDOT’s decision to put in two-way traffic lanes from L Street to North Capitol Street instead of cycle tracks. 

The ANC supported the PUD application to close the alley between 301 and 331 N St. NE. The planned apartments, retail, and hotels in that area do not need alley access.

The open-window pilot program for Driftwood Kitchen (400 H St. NE) ended in October, but the ANC supported the decision not to renew the amendment to the settlement agreement.

Commissioners voted to support the third-floor roof-deck-addition plan at 625 E St. NE.

Commissioner Miller reported the ANC’s fourth quarter balance at $45,588.89, with the largest expenses going to approved community grants.

 

ANC 6C regularly meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The next meeting is on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.