ANC 6D Tells Portals to Pay Its Community Benefits

In their September meeting, commissioners had heard from representatives of The Portals, the set of large developments that surround Maryland Avenue SW. They asked for the commission to support their application for curb cuts designed to facilitate the development of a large residential building in the fifth phase of this mixed-use project. At that time, commissioners had queried Portals representatives on the fulfillment of a substantial community benefits agreement that the developer had agreed to as part of the project's initial phase. They requested the applicant provide a complete accounting at the commission's October meeting.

In the interim, Commissioner Lightman had found signed originals of both the initial and subsequently amended agreements. Under their terms, the community was to receive annual payouts of roughly $150,000 for ten years. Lightman could only find evidence of payments for the initial 18 months.

“There are very few ways in which an ANC can take any effective action to demand a developer in fact fulfill the conditions of a community benefit agreement,” stated Lightman addressing the representative of the Portals at the October meeting. “It is really not clear that a court of law would uphold it. So, one of the ways it can act out in its own defense to secure the adherence to a community benefit agreement is when the developer comes next before the commission and asks it to support a further project. You unfortunately are in that position,” she continued.

“It is not personal. It is not your curb cut that we are discussing. It is whether or not you have paid the last eight years due of a one hundred and some odd thousand dollars per year in community benefits since the early 1990s. For that we need your people to engage in some hard forensic accounting.” Speaking for the entire commission, Lightman stated there would be no action on any requests until either The Portals provided evidence of payment or a plan of how they would fulfill the terms of the community benefits agreement going forward.