ANC 6B Report – April 2017

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The April 12 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B lasted two hours, 45 minutes, much of which was occupied by the business of the Planning and Zoning Committee. The presentation by At-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman was canceled and will be rescheduled for the May or June meetings.

The quorum: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Nick Burger (6B06, treasurer), James Loots (6B03, parliamentarian), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, chair), Denise Krepp (6B10), Diane Hoskins (6B02, vice chair), Steve Hagedorn (6B05), and Daniel Ridge (6B09, secretary).

Community Speakout
A neighborhood representative from the People’s Climate March invited the community to the march, scheduled to begin at noon, Saturday, April 29, on the Mall.

Resident members of the Mayor’s Advisory Board on Veteran’s Affairs described the board as composed of about 20 volunteers connected with the Office of Veteran’s Affairs, who interface on different areas of concern to veterans, such as employment, health, and homelessness. Noting that she was herself a veteran, Krepp encouraged the members of the board to become active in the DC Statehood issue.

Community & Commission Announcements
Commissioner Ridge noted that he was under investigation by the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) for failure to use its website. “I collected and spent zero dollars on my unopposed campaign,” he added, noting that he recorded this on paper rather than online. A hearing will be held 10:00 a.m., April 21, at the OCF in the Reeves Municipal Center, 2000 14th St. NW.

Krepp noted that community members had requested a meeting with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “But instead of meeting with the DC residents whose laws he was overturning,” she reported, Chaffetz “bumped it to a committee staff director.” In addition to requesting a meeting, the group made other requests of Chaffetz including that he support DC statehood and improve communications between his office and DC residents. They suggested that Chaffetz hold town hall meetings when reviewing District laws. The group has another meeting with Chaffetz in early May.

Resident Member Appointment
The appointment of John Cochran as resident member of the Transportation Committee passed with seven commissioners supporting and one abstaining.

Planning & Zoning Committee
The commissioners heard an historic preservation application (HPA) case from the owner of 602 E St. SE involving a rear addition on a property that fronts two streets. The Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Committee voted last week to support the application but with a number of requests for modification to the project, including changing the appearance of the rear facade to resemble more closely the historic front facade. The property owner agreed to all other requests, but after consultation with his architects and the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) decided that modifying the rear to look like the front was unnecessary and would seem “a bit dishonest.” The commissioners unanimously endorsed the HPA.

Next to be heard was an application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a special exception to the accessory building lot occupancy requirements for a two-story carriage house and garage at 202 Ninth St. SE. The proposed building would abut the neighboring house, a detached, single-family historic dwelling. The owner of that home argued that the building would not only devalue her property but obstruct her only south-facing window.

Commissioners expressed their sympathy, noting that many of them also live in historic homes. However, they said that the objections expressed did not constitute sufficient cause for denying the application. In explaining his support for the application, Loots said that “if we did not have the issue of the lot occupancy, it would be an as-of-right building, and he could have covered up your window without getting anybody’s permission. When you build against the lot line and put your window on the lot line, you are at risk of having someone else building an abutting ‘by right’ structure against that window.” Commissioner Burger (6B06) acknowledged that support for the affected neighbor was to be commended and “reflects a strong community,” but also noted that the plans were not out of character for Capitol Hill or for the block as a whole.

The commissioners supported the BZA application by a vote of 5-2, with one abstaining.

The commissioners considered an HPA for 231 10th St. SE. The details of the application amounted to what one commissioner described as a “horrific” tale. Informed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), after three months of building, that their permits for multiple projects on a single lot had to be forfeited and joined under a single permit, the applicants then learned that the HPRB contended that the plans had not been approved and the process would have to be re-initiated. What was originally supposed to be a courtesy stop-order of a few days had become a delay of several months, exposing materials to the elements and jeopardizing the applicant’s finances.

Krepp proposed writing letters to the DCRA and the HPRB expressing “outrage” with the handling of the permitting process. The commissioners supported the HPA, 7-0, with one abstaining.

Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force
The Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force (O&CS) asked the commissioners to support sending a report on rat infestation to the mayor, the Department of Health, and other relevant agencies. The report was the result of a recent O&CS meeting focusing on the issue of rat infestation in Capitol Hill. The commissioners granted their support.

A resident called the attention of the commissioners to a restaurant on Seventh Street SE believed to have rat burrows in the front property. Loots noted that under the terms of the agreement with the ANC’s Alcohol and Beverage Committee (ABC), the business was expected to “maintain best practices for sanitation.” The commissioners decided to contact the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) and the Department of Health on this matter.

Other Concerns
Hoskins moved that the ANC send a letter to the Department of General Services (DGS) urging an immediate public update on the status of the environmental assessment (EA) report for the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Master Plan. The letter would also ask the DGS to release the EA by the end of fiscal year 2017 or sooner to restart the public and community input process. The EA has been under DGS review for more than two years. The commissioners supported the letter unanimously.

Hoskins also moved that the commissioners send a letter to the Committee on Business and Economic Development in support of the Eastern Market Main Streets (EMMS) application for grant money to create a three-member Clean Team for the EMMS corridor. The commissioners supported the motion unanimously.

ANC 6B regularly meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 9.