ANC 6B Report – May 2017

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The May 9 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B lasted a little more than three hours and was marked by bursts of applause, particularly during the discussion of Planning & Zoning Committee business. Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Jennifer Niles presented on the topic of the mayor’s budget and its implications for education.

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), Aimee Grace (6B07), Kristin Oldenberg (6B04), and Daniel Ridge (6B09, secretary).

Commissioner Announcements
Commissioner Oldenberg announced that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has scheduled a public meeting on the Pennsylvania Avenue and Potomac Street SE intersection improvement project. It will take place on Thursday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hill Center.

Commissioner Krepp announced that DC Water retroactively charged a customer $1,400, and encouraged residents to contact their ANC commissioner if they experience such charges. On the same topic, Commissioner Jayaraman said that he has been trying for two years to get DC Water or the Department of General Services (DGS) to address the issue of a water-main leak in his single-member district, and that each claimed the problem is the responsibility of the other agency.

Deputy Mayor of Education Presentation
Jennifer Niles, Deputy Mayor for Education (DME), made a presentation on the 2018 mayor’s budget and the implications for education in the District. She noted that school enrollment has been growing for the past eight years and that this year’s budget contains the largest expenditure on public education in history; a third of the District funds spent locally will be spent on education. She explained that $15.3 million is allocated to a childcare initiative to expand seats for infants and toddlers in 13 facilities and to the creation of a My Child Care DC website similar to My School DC, which will help guardians evaluate childcare options.

Commissioners questioned her in regard to the modernization of Jefferson Middle School Academy and Logan Montessori, in particular the state of bathroom facilities at the latter. Commissioner Krepp said that bathrooms were unclean, some stalls lacked doors, and rats had been seen. Residents also complained of the long-term use of trailers at Logan, with one saying her daughter’s entire tenure at the school would take place in the portable unit. Niles said that unsafe conditions in schools were never okay, and offered to pursue the conversations after the meeting.

Appointment of Resident Members
Two resident members were appointed to committees: Lisa Bos (6B10) for Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force and Kevin Brown (6B10) for Hill East Task Force. The votes were 9-0 with one abstention.

Alcohol Beverage Control Committee
The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Committee asked for support to send a letter to other ANCs requesting that they sign a request that the District Council take action to address trash management and rodent control issues. The motion passed unanimously.

Planning & Zoning Committee
A heated and lengthy debate took place on a Board of Zoning Application. The CHC BOLD PAC, a congressional political action committee focused on Hispanic issues, sought approval for a zoning adjustment to permit use of a 2,200 square-foot residential townhouse at 428 New Jersey Ave. SE as “office space” and event space for a nonprofit organization. The applicant requested a variance from the 10,000 square-foot requirement for the special exception.

At the Planning & Zoning Committee meeting the previous Tuesday, the committee had recommended opposition to the application on the grounds that the application does not meet the standards for the exception, as the committee did not consider CHC BOLD PAC to be a nonprofit organization, and the home in question is not exceptionally large, having 2,200 square feet of livable space. Lawyers representing the PAC told the full ANC that they were willing to abide by conditions set by the neighbors, and argued that this was an opportunity for the ANC to set a precedent for interaction between the neighborhood and other groups seeking similar property uses.

Community members spoke in opposition to the zoning adjustment, arguing that their street has several homes already being used this way, and that the PAC would use the house for fundraising parties, resulting in excessive noise, trash, catering trucks, and parking problems. One resident expressed surprise at how few neighbors there were on her street due to the increased use of homes as fundraising venues. “Neighborhoods are for neighbors,” another resident stated.

Commissioner Nick Burger moved to oppose the application but also to write a letter to the Board of Zoning detailing the reasons. He also moved to allow the chair of the ANC to designate one or more persons to present concerns on behalf of the ANC at the Board of Zoning hearing. The amendment and the motion to oppose the application passed 8-0 with two commissioners abstaining.

Transportation
At the Transportation Committee meeting, the committee voted on naming the square bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue and C Street and Second and Third streets SE. The Transportation Committee had voted to name it Lincoln Court because it is the site of the former Lincoln School. However, Commissioner Oldenberg brought the item to the full ANC because she favored naming it Lincoln School Court, believing that to be more descriptive of the local story. Agreeing that it was a better name from a community perspective, the commissioners voted 6-1-2 to support the name Lincoln School Square, causing one interested resident to leave. As he did so, he said, “I hope you guys know what you just did,” to the surprise of the assembled.

Letter to DGS
Commissioner Hoskins presented a motion to support a letter on behalf of the ANC to the Department of General Services (DGS), asking it to keep Seventh Street, between Independence Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, closed on weekends for Eastern Market activity, and to extend contracts with the flea-market street vendors. The leases expire at the end of July. Representatives of the vendors and Eastern Market Main Street were present and suggested that a meeting of the stakeholders should take place before such a letter is written. The letter was tabled until the June ANC meeting.

Letter to HPRB
Commissioner Burger presented a motion to send a letter to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on behalf of ANC 6B to express concern about the way a particular case had been handled. The case, concerning an historic preservation application for 231 10th St. SE, was supported by ANC 6B at the April meeting. Commissioners had expressed shock, however, at the complicated way the case was handled by both HPRB and the Board of Zoning which had resulted in re-application for permits and multiple cessations of work. Burger’s motion passed 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. on Tuesday, June 13.