ANC 6D Report - September 2016

The members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D, as they plowed through a packed agenda, carefully delineated their response to expansion plans for smaller, older housing and briefly discussed the shrinking availability of affordable housing. Three new liquor licenses and a range of public space and zoning requests were supported at the September meeting, which ended a full hour ahead of schedule. Quorum: Stacy Cloyd (6D02, secretary), Meredith Fascett (6D07, treasurer), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06), Marjorie Lightman (6D01), Andy Litsky (6D04, chair), Roger Moffatt (6D05). Rachel Reilly Carroll (6D03, vice-chair) was absent.

Pop-Up Additions on Older Homes

Commissioner Fascett asked for careful review of a third-floor residential addition, noting that other owners are considering similar pop-ups. In one of the more extensive discussions of the meeting, commissioners explored the historic significance, zoning status, and need for expansion in a stretch of 100-year-old homes. Homeowner Chris French described a planned addition to the rowhouse at 929 Fifth St. SE (BZA Case #19323). He noted that, before considering the addition, his family attempted to find a larger house in the area that they could afford. 

“I don't want pop-ups, but if we want families to live here we have to allow them to adjust” for modern needs, said Commissioner Lightman, declaring “as a historian” that the rowhouses in question have “no historic importance.” Commissioner Moffatt argued, however, that legacy row homes should be in the Capitol Hill historic district, adding that he would have supported the addition had it been approved by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.  

The French home is among area houses built over 100 years ago and not conforming to current zoning regulations. The addition requires a special exception, not a variance, and does not change the lot occupancy percentage. The ANC supported the addition, 5-1, Moffatt opposing. 

Florida Rock: ‘We've Done Our Part’ 

John Begert from MRP Realty updated the commission on the four-phase Florida Rock development, between South Capitol and First streets SE on Potomac Avenue. Phase 1, consisting of 305 residential units and ground-floor retail, is “leasing up” and preparing for opening this fall. Phase 2 is to offer 260 residential units and 12,000 square feet of retail with two levels of parking. MRP seeks zoning approval for the stage-two PUD (planned unit development). 

After brief consideration of the space between buildings and a request for consecutive addresses in the interest of way-finding, discussion turned to affordable housing. As approved by the Zoning Commission in earlier stages, the project includes less than 10 percent of affordable units. When the affordability issue was raised, Begert responded: “We've been working under one set of guidelines. To change would be significant.” 

“We have people who want to stay here but cannot,” Commissioner Hamilton argued. “Everyone cannot keep saying, 'I cannot do it.'” 

“You got a very good deal on the land,” Lightman added, “and you'll make a lot of money over a lot of time.”

Citing MRP's contribution to create and maintain Diamond Teague Park, Begert insisted: “We've done our part by providing open space for the community.”

‘Where We Should Be Pitching a Fit’

ANC Chair Andy Litsky suggested commissioners focus on the next two phases at Florida Rock, adding that Buzzard Point, with over 6,000 residential units planned by another developer, is “where we should be pitching a fit.” 

“Reasonable is how we got to this point,” Lightman concluded. “At some point we have to become unreasonable if we want affordable housing.” 

Community members expressed dismay at the continuing displacement of lower-income residents and argued that local culture is being erased by developments like Florida Rock. Three individuals objected to open space being considered a “community benefit” when the need for affordable housing is so great. In response to a question from Commissioner Cloyd, Begert acknowledged that, without a PUD, any matter-of-right building would not include additional affordable housing. Litsky closed the agenda item by noting that individuals, as well as the ANC, can submit testimony to the Zoning Commission. 

The ANC voted to support the PUD, 4-2, with Hamilton and Lightman opposing. 

Minor Actions in Larger Developments

The Wharf, 1100 Maine Ave. SW, requested support for clarification of an existing PUD so that community recreational space is replaced by a hotel rooftop restaurant and bar. Applicants will return to request a liquor license. The ANC unanimously supported the clarification. 

Square 769N, part of the Arthur Capper Carrollsburg Development, requested support for a six-month extension on beginning construction. The ANC unanimously supported the extension.

Jason Bonnet of Forest City presented new renderings for the mixed-used development on parcel L2 at Third and Water streets SE, a project including 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 270 residential units, 20 percent “affordable” at 50 percent of area median income. A previous letter to the Zoning Commission called ANC 6D “enthusiastic” about the eastern facade of the building but “not enthusiastic” about the western facade. Bonnet said the newly designed skin was meant to reduce the earlier “glass box” feel which some found “massive and boring.” After discussion the ANC voted unanimously to change phrasing to “less enthusiastic” about the western facade.

New Liquor Licenses

The ANC unanimously voted to support – technically, not to protest –  three new liquor licenses: All Purpose Pizza at 79 Potomac Ave. SE, Chix at 1210 Half St. SE, and Slipstream at 100 I St. SE. All Purpose Pizza plans to seat 205 with a rooftop and a street-level summer garden. Chix will seat 60 patrons inside and 20 outdoors; support for this license was contingent on the signing of a cooperative agreement with automatic protest in the absence of the applicant's signature. The ANC voted to approve a cooperative agreement with Slipstream, while noting that modification to accommodate a sidewalk garden is expected to come before the ANC in November.

Additional Actions

The ANC approved a letter to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regarding proposed rulemaking on residential permit parking (RPP). The letter asks DDOT “to develop proposals that begin to address the additional costs that residents who are not eligible for the RPP Program must bear,” and opposes any changes to existing signage that might reduce parking available to neighborhood residents during stadium events. The letter was approved by vote of 5-1, with Lightman opposing. 

The ANC unanimously supported the following: 

  • proposed bike lanes for New Jersey Avenue between E and I streets SE; 
  • public space permits for 25 M St. SE, 1200 Half St. SE, and 1210 Half St. SE; 
  • repaving at Fourth and M streets SW; 
  • renaming the street in front of Jefferson Middle School Vera White Way, in honor of previous principal; 
  • temporary traffic interruptions for the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial Fund “Run for the Badge” on Oct. 15 and SOME's annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. 

The only vote of opposition all evening regarded a public space permit for St. Paul African Union Methodist Protestant Church, 401 I St. SE (#181263). Commissioners found existing plans “unnecessarily complex,” and the church agreed to create a new design. The vote to oppose the permit was 5-0-1, with Moffatt abstaining. 

 

ANC 6D will meet next at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 (note change to the third Monday) at 1100 Fourth St. SW, second floor. For more information visit www.anc6d.org.