Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures in Final Court Review of Hine Project

Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures in Final Court Review of Hine Project

Litigants Cite Recent Court Decision Faulting Sloppy Zoning Commission Review

By Larry Janezich

Last Friday, Oliver Hall, the attorney for the Hine Coalition, filed a response to a Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB) request for expedited resolution of the Hine Coalition’s appeal of a recent Appeals Court decision ratifying the Zoning Commission (ZC) approval of the Hine Development.  Hall’s response said the Coalition and Intervenor EMMCA not only had no objection to expedited resolution, but that they also seek expedited resolution of the appeal.   (ed. note: phrase in italics has been corrected to reflect language of the response.)

Hall cited a Court decision just one week before SEB filed a request for expedited consideration in the Hine appeal.  It that decision, the Court slammed ZC procedures and remanded the controversial 901 Monroe Brookland project to the ZC to justify its support of the project.  Opponents of the Brookland project had asked the Court to overturn the ZC’s approval which opponents said was too big for Brookland and too dense for the community.  The Court decision came with a reprimand to the ZC for failure to act as factfinder – “to neutrally find the facts, then apply the appropriate law and thus determine the outcome.”

According to the Washington Business Journal, the ZC has never rejected a PUD.  The Court’s critique of the ZC’s standard operating procedure on PUD’s sets a precedent for the agency’s accountability – which the Commission has long been accustomed to operating without.

At the heart of the Court’s criticism was the ZC’s verbatim adoption of the Brookland developer’s proposed findings of fact in response to the Brookland litigant’s appeal of the ZC’s decision.  The Court opined that the procedure “raises serious concerns as to whether the Commission order actually reflects a considered judgment by the Commission as to the arguments of the parties.”

Hall says in his filing that the ZC relied on the developer’s report in the Hine development in a similar manner, pointing out the ZC’s verbatim adoption of “paragraph after paragraph and page after page of SEB’s proposed findings.”  When raised as an issue in the initial appeal, Hall says the Court treated the ZC reliance on SEB’s proposed findings as a non-issue.  The filing goes on to point out specific instances where the ZC failed to explain its reasons for approving the Hine PUD’s height and density.

Two of the partners in the Brookland project (200 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail, two blocks from the Brookland-CUA Metro) will be familiar to the long time followers of the Hine project: the Menkiti Group (one of the finalists in the Hine development selection) and Esocoff & Associates, an architectural firm and one of SEB’s partners in the Hine development.

The Zoning Commission is the curious “independent, quasi-judicial” body which makes decisions every month affecting the quality of life in DC’s neighborhoods.  Three members are DC residents appointed by the Mayor.  One member is a representative of the Architect of the Capitol. One member is a representative of the National Park Service.

Here is a list of the current ZC Members and excerpts from their public profiles from the ZC website.

Chair, Anthony J. Hood

Chief of the Printing and Mail Management Section, Facilities Operations Branch, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC; Member, Board of Directors of the Bryant Park Homeowners Association; Member, 5th District’s Citizens Advisory Council, Member Bryant Channing Streets, Orange Hat Patrol; Deacon, Greater First Baptist Church of Washington, DC.

Vice Chair, Marcie Cohen

Retired from (unspecified) public and private sectors; recipient of Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design; former Visiting Senior Scholar, Great Cites Institute, University of Illinois; former Vice Chair of DC Housing Authority; former Board Member, National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Robert Miller

Former Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs; former Legislative Counsel to the DC Council Chairman; Member, National Capital Planning Commission.

Michael G. Turnbull, FAIA  – Architect of the Capitol Designee

Assistant Architect of the Capitol; former Director of the Department of Design and Construction at the Art Institute of Chicago; Member, American Planning Association.

Peter G. May – National Park Service Designee

Associate Regional Director for Lands, Resources, and Planning with the National Capital Region of NPS; former project administrator, Architect of the Capitol; former Deputy Director of Operations in the District of Columbia’s Office of Property Management; former architect with Weinstein Associates Architects (no relation to Amy Weinstein) and Quinn Evans | Architects; Board Member Capitol Hill Community Foundation; former member of District of Columbia Public Schools Modernization Advisory Board and Committee of 21.

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The Week Ahead …Barracks Row Fest Photo Essay & the City Paper on Peter May

 Scenes from Saturday’s Barracks Row Fest

Outgoing Councilmember Tommy Wells with his likely successor, Democratic nominee for Ward Six CM Charles Allen

Outgoing Councilmember Tommy Wells with his likely successor, Democratic nominee for Ward Six CM Charles Allen

CM Wells with CM at Large Candidate Elissa Silverman and NBC4 News Reporter Tom Sherwood

CM Wells with CM at Large Candidate Elissa Silverman and NBC4 News Reporter Tom Sherwood

ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven (L) and ANC6B Vice Chair Ivan Frishberg (R)

ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven (L) and ANC6B Vice Chair Ivan Frishberg (R)

Skillz Skaters Demonstrate Prowess on Asphalt

                                            Skillz Skaters Demonstrate Prowess on Asphalt

Trapeze Artist

                                                                                Trapeze Artist

Batala Women Drummers

                                                                   Batala Women Drummers

Empowerment Through Drumming

                                                                Empowerment Through Drumming

Howl to the Chief's Main Attraction

                                                   Howl to the Chief’s Main Attraction

There's Just Something about Politicians and Babies

                                      There’s Just Something about Politicians and Babies

 The Week Ahead …Barracks Row Fest Photo Essay & the City Paper on Peter May

by Larry Janezich

The City Paper Article on Peter May

For those of who missed it, City Paper (CP) ran a lengthy front page profile of Capitol Hill resident Peter May, who it calls “the most powerful man shaping D.C.’s growth you’ve never heard of.”  May’s title is: Associate Regional Director for Lands, Planning, and Design for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS), and by virtue of that position, he sits on the DC Zoning Commission and the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment.  As a member of the Zoning Commission, he participated in the consideration of the Hine Development and – if the developers of the Frager’s site want a building more than 50 feet high there, he will be voting on that.  He is also the overseer of Capitol Hill NPS Parks:  Folger, Lincoln, Stanton, Marion(!), Potomac Avenue Metro, Seward Square, Twining Square, Maryland Avenue Triangles, the Pennsylvania Avenue Medians and 59 inner city triangles and squares (“pocket parks).

May is in charge of enforcing what many think are antiquated NPS regulations for these parks which prevent DC from developing the cultural and aesthetic amenities on public spaces which are seen everywhere in Europe.  He is described in the article by a former colleague as someone who is charged with protecting the federal and NPS interests but who takes community interests into consideration while doing so.  What the colleague does not have to say is that the federal government pays May’s salary.

Some residents have found the NPS to be unresponsive to concerns; some ANCs  have found the NPS attitude dismissive.  The CP article finds that no one wants to answer the question of why, exactly, the federal government should have a voice in micromanaging the city’s communities and neighborhoods, but that’s likely to remain the case until the District achieves true and independent home rule.  The link to the City Paper article is here:  http://bit.ly/1u0tRYD

New Capitol Hill Business

Jade Fitness, a boutique fitness facility at 1310 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, officially opened for workouts on September 2, 1014.  Jade Fitness offers yoga, Zumba, Boot Camp classes, CorrectFit, Weekend Warrior and ABC Workout among others.  A grand opening celebration is scheduled for October. For more information, see here:  www.jadefitnessdc.com

The Week Ahead….

Tuesday, September 30

ANC 6B Executive Committee Meets at 7:00pm in the Hill Center to set the agenda for the October 14 ANC6B monthly meeting.

Tuesday, September 30

The Department of General Services will conduct the second tour of the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club for prospective development teams from 9:30am until 4:00 pm.  Commissioner Brian Flahaven is expected to announce a separate community tour of the site in the near future.

Thursday, October 2

ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven holds a meeting on the 81 Unit Building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, project at 7:30 pm at New York Pizza (1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE). Greg Selfridge of NOVO development will be on hand to provide updates on the construction and answer questions.  (See CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/YyyQU6

Saturday, October 4

Dead Man’s Run.  Congressional Cemetery.  6pm – 8pm

http://www.congressionalcemetery.org/dead-mans-run-2

Saturday, October 4

Blessing of Animals/Feast of St. Francis. Lincoln Park  10:00 am. Sponsored by Church of St. Monica and St. James.

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City Sees Three Year Timeline (Maybe) for Redevelopment of Hill East Boys and Girls Club

Eastern Branch Building, 261 17th Street, SE

Eastern Branch Building, 261 17th Street, SE

City Sees Three Year Timeline (Maybe) for Redevelopment of Hill East Boys and Girls Club

Community Uses for Project Present Challenge for Developers

by Larry Janezich

According to Michelle Chin and Stephen Campbell of the DC Department of General Services (DGS) the city anticipates a three year timeline for redevelopment of the Eastern Branch Building, formerly the Boys and Girls Club, at 261 17th Street, SE.  That timeline would start running after the City Council signs off on a proposal for redevelopment and DGS closes on a lease with a developer.

Last Tuesday night (September 16) at a community meeting at Payne School, Chin and Campbell said that the process for declaring the city-owned building surplus and the redevelopment process would proceed simultaneously as follows:

The DGS posted a Request for Offers (RFOs) on September 3

Responses from developers are due November 20

DGS may ask for best and final offers

Community meeting for presentation of all proposals will follow

ANC6B will review proposals and make a recommendation

DSG will make a final selection in February, 2015

DSG will award the development contract after the City Council approves a development plan

Six months to one year after that, developer will break ground

Approximately three years later, the project will be completed

The timeline is contingent upon finding a developer who will step up to the challenge of the criteria specified in the RFO.  There is a strongly held belief in the community, ANC6b, and DGS that the public must benefit from the disposition and development of this public property.  The challenge will be to find a plan and a developer who will satisfy that requirement and still find a way to make the project financially attractive.

On May 13, ANC6B sent a letter to DGS listing community preferences and stating the ANC’s belief that the city should pursue RFO’s that include a community or neighborhood- serving use component in the building.  Those preferences show up in the RFO as follows:

Day care

Adult daycare/senior services

Recreational uses that can accommodate dance or fitness classes

Community meeting/event space

Regarding the non-community space, the letter expressed a preference for family or senior housing.

The RFO states that respondents should note that greater weight will be given to proposals incorporating housing, particularly family/senior housing as part of the plan.  Further, it states that responses must consider and incorporate stakeholder and community preferences to the extent feasible.

The building itself presents issues for potential developers.  DGS is focused on uses for the existing building; however, problems in renovation (including a unique floor plan, lack of parking, lack of ADA features) make demolition and a new structure a likely alternative.  The building is zoned R-4 – residential – which limits a residential structure to a maximum three story/40 foot height.  Any change would require that a developer seek that relief through the Zoning Commission’s Public Unit Development (PUD) process.  There are no historic preservation issues for the building and selling the building outright is not an option.

Chin stated that the city does not currently have funding to subsidize or support the project.  This means that any non-community use of the development plan will have to generate enough revenue to sustain and support any community uses of the building.  Chin said, “We will accept any proposal but to receive serious consideration it will need to address RFO criteria.”

Whether developer subsidization of the community to this degree within the current height limitation is possible is uncertain.  ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven may have been hinting as much during the Q&A period, saying, “I think the process affords us the opportunity to see what the possibilities are.”  Chuck Burger, Chair of The Eastern Branch Task Force appointed in 2009 by CM Wells to frame a reuse for the building commented, “This is one way to test the market.  If nobody meets the mark, do we want to lower the bar?”

The DGS RFO’s can be found here:  http://1.usa.gov/1qrZvbz

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The Week Ahead…..Liquor License for Curbside Café?

Last Tuesday night at Watkins’ Field:  Bike Polo, Pickup Basketball, Little League Football

The Week Ahead…..Liquor License for Curbside Café?

by Larry Janezich

Monday, September 22

Community meeting to discuss Curbside Café’s plans to apply for a liquor license.  7:00pm 6:00pm at

Curbside Cafe, 257 15th Street, SE.

Tuesday, September 23

The National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission will meet to hear the case for siting the Swamp Fox memorial by Palmetto Conservation Foundation (a sponsor of the memorial, and based in Columbia, South Carolina) in a public meeting on September 23 at 2:00 pm, in Room 311, the Boardroom of the Commission of Fine Arts, at the National Building Museum, 401 S Street, N.W., Washington, DC

Wednesday, September 24

ANC6a’s Economic Development and Zoning Committee meets at 7 pm at Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE    Next Meeting will be in October.

Thursday, September 25

CHRS hosts a community meeting to hear Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, explain how the District’s tree cover is maintained and what residents can do to help their trees and the local ecosystem – 7:00pm, at Hill Center.

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Piece of the Story – Featuring the Work of NE Urban Artist Brett Busang

Carport and Clouds, Northeast DC.  Acrylic on masonite. 24"X18" - $3,000

Carport and Clouds, Northeast DC. Acrylic on masonite. 24″X18″ – $3,000 (Read the “narrative for this piece below.)

Apartment Block, Anacostia.  Arrylic on Canvas.  38"X42" - $6,000

Apartment Block, Anacostia. Arrylic on Canvas. 38″X42″ – $6,000 (Read excepts from the “narrative” for this piece below.)

Lincoln Park.  Acrylic on Masonite.  24"X30" - $4,000

Lincoln Park. Acrylic on Masonite. 24″X30″ – $4,000

Corner of 5th.  Acrylic on masontie.  30"X24" - $4,000

Corner of 5th. Acrylic on masontie. 30″X24″ – $4,000

Shade Tree on H.  Acrylic on canvas.  30"X40" - $5,000

Shade Tree on H.  Acrylic on canvas. 30″X40″ – $5,000

Piece of the Story – Featuring the Work of NE Urban Artist Brett Busang

by Larry Janezich

Brett Busang is a DC based American realist painter who currently lives near H Street, Northeast.  He paints the realities of the urban environment and has a fondness for the grittiness of alleys and garages but his work also features, empty lots, facades of storefronts and row houses, bridges, and industrial and construction sites – and no people.  Most are exteriors – studies in sunlight and shadow – with an interior scene being the rare exception.  The themes of the pieces concern change, a sense of anticipation, and the loneliness and anonymity of urban life.  His work recalls that of Edward Hopper, and Busang acknowledges his debt to that painter.

Many of Busang’s pieces featured on his website (Here:  http://bit.ly/XH7QB2) are accompanied by a “narrative” – an anecdotal-rich essay which often chronicles change and places the work in context.

He has exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York City; the Everson Museum, in Syracuse, NY; the Greenville Museum of Art, in Greenville, NC.  Busang is also a writer and commentator; his writing has appeared in American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, American Art Review, the New York Press and New York Newsday.  He was born in 1954.

Busang’s narrative for “Carports and Clouds, Northeast DC” is reproduced below:

“Northeast Washington reminds me a little of Queens, which sprawls somewhat more evenly between the East River and, I think, Duchess County.  Queens is considered subpar compared to Brooklyn; safer than the Bronx; and as unremarkable as a hamburger patty.  It is the home of immigrants too numerous and incomprehensible to name.  Its history is an amalgam of lousy breaks and easy living.  And its people are such chips off the old block that, when they have a chance to leave, they keep a little place handy so they can always come back.

I am not aware of such affection emanating from Northeast DC.  It sprawls, but it can also contract.  Its population is not nearly so diversified, being mostly black, but it is sprinkled with recent immigrants as well as hopeful newbies, who take a chance on the place because it is very likely the only place – in Washington, DC – they can afford to live.  I don’t know how big it is and don’t care.  Yet I have spent so much time in it that I am always wondering about its parameters.  How was it, or all places, given such license to grow?  Or is its growth organic – a sort of happy virus that leaps over boundaries and keeps going because nobody cares to stop it?  Because of its sprawling character, Northeast is not easily quantified.  Northeast is Capitol Hill, but it is also Trinidad.  Northeast is a single lane that runs parallel to H, but peters out when it reaches a cross-street and is never found again.  Northeast eats at home more than other places – though it drinks out of paper bags and likes to break its bottles against a curbstone because they might, in this second life they’ve been given, puncture a brand-new tire. Northeast is as restless as a cat, but climbs fences it already knows and sticks to them.  Northeast sits on a hill at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, where hardship has been mastered and there are no rent disputes anymore.  It gazes in wonder from the Arboretum, from which the human world seems as chaotic as a three-alarm fire.

Northeast is dirty-ochre and salmon-pink.  Its middle-greys will get darker while its concrete repairs turn yellow overnight.  Northeast is a cache of plastic bottles and discarded billfolds.  It reeks of the stuff for which “nicer” neighborhoods have no name.  Yet it lives prosperously “on the hill” where prams are pushed and neighborly disagreements are arbitrated by law.  Across H, things aren’t so nice, though people are sandblasting old brick, re-painting woodwork, and making stacks of cobblestones so that they might, at some point, be returned to where they came from.

Italians used to be here, and Jewish people too.  And a great many nuns, who die more mysteriously than other people.

Wardman blocks mean something in Northeast, as do storm drains and Harlequin novels.  If asked, some people will say they miss the Senators, which were of a Northeastern mentality because they never won anything and didn’t expect to.  The Senators were about keeping the faith and holding steady.

In Brookland, its lawns are tidy, its streets are in good repair, and its inner life is crowned with rosaries, and tabernacles.  And over in Eckington – which may not be in Northeast at all – it roller-coasters up and down so much, nobody wants to go outside.

Its townhouses are needy-looking, its trees are ragged, and its lavender-mint is flavored with acid rain.  Its stray cats run rampant and are never trapped and neutered.  And its old men remember their childhoods as being more quiet, but not as complicated as the ones they see.

History has happened here and looks it – which is why it doesn’t “scan”.  (Most people prefer history on a plaque or seminar.)  Here people work for a living   Or can’t.

A Postscript

People rarely guess exactly where I have painted my pictures – which is precisely the way I want it.  In this painting, as with so many others, I want a single thing to represent the many; the ordinary moment to resonate with all time; a back-porch, a stranded automobile, and some roaming clouds to define and obfuscate what it means to be alive.”

Below is an excerpt from the narrative for  “Apartment Block, Anacostia”

“Anacostia affords views of Washington for which Washingtonians pay more money than they can afford.  Its hills and valleys retain the pastoral quality for which places like Mt. Vernon are more conveniently famous.  And its history is as complicated as the Mother Ship, which seems, to an outsider, so far away.

It’s always been affordable, though Washington-style property values have been creeping past the river’s edge.  Yet once the crossing is made, square footage lacks the gamma ray quality it has in the District.  If you drive around, you’ll find a patch of land that suits your budget.  You’ll see a house that has roaring potential.  And you’ll look past the remediable decay toward a future that is – as it may not be in Mt. Vernon Square – as tangible as a rusted-out garage.  Like that garage, it’s more than all right if you care to put a roof on it and make it your own.

Washington’s working-class is that negative quantity whose history is put on hold as Big Events march pre-emptively past it.  In DC, its two-story cottages are being snapped up like nobody’s business.  Its public spaces are being widened to accommodate bigger dreams.  And its brick schoolhouses are becoming multi-family communities complete with a village green, “safer” swing-sets, and a barbecue grill.  One could argue that, in DC, the working-class might appear during the daytime, but it joins the daily exodus after its tool-kits are stowed away.

Anacostia doesn’t mind working-people and has, over the years, provided American Dream conditions for those dreamers who need to scrape the barrel now and then.  Its economy-minded architecture is not only its saving grace, it is its lifeblood.

In the picture I made, the “kick” doesn’t come so much from the architecture as its placement among those rolling hills and easement-sharing parkland.  In DC, developers sacrifice breathing-space for market-share; human amenities for monetary values.  In Anacostia, one may breathe easily enough – though it is advisable to look both ways.  And keep an eye out for trouble.

It is regrettable that racial tensions can so often define a city’s potential.

Anacostia’s potential resides in the very tensions that could tear it asunder.  Now that it is up for grabs, it’ll be interesting to see whether those tensions will gather, be diffused, or dissipate under the influence of a new order that has not materialized there or anyplace else.  In theory, the same hand that strikes someone can be offered in friendship.  Friendship, however, depends on whether the new people are willing to respect the old; what is shabby, not only about places, but human relations can be systemically eliminated and not taken away one body-part at a time.  Anacostia needs a shot in the arm, but its crowd-attracting virtues must, in the face of those very crowds, be somehow protected.”

Ed. Note:  Capitol Hill Corner features the works of local artists in an occasional feature entitled “Piece of the Story.”  Artists interested in participating should email ljjanezich@hotmail.org.

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Neighbors Up in Arms Over Proposed “Swamp Fox” Statue in Marion (Turtle) Park

The Proposed Francis Marion Memorial Would Go in Marion Park.

The Proposed Francis Marion Memorial Would Go in Marion Park

View of Marion Park Looking Southwest.  Improvements to the Park Have Been Underway for Several Years, with Seemingly Little Progress

View of Marion Park Looking Southwest. Improvements to the Park Have Been Underway for Several Years, with Seemingly Little Progress

Neighbors Up in Arms Over Proposed “Swamp Fox” Statue in Marion (Turtle) Park

by Larry Janezich

The neighbors of Marion Park are organizing to stop or slow down an effort to locate a larger than life-sized statue of Francis Marion, the park’s namesake and an American Revolutionary War military officer who used irregular methods to fight the British in South Carolina.  Known as the Swamp Fox, Marion’s legacy is controversial, (See Wikipedia, here:  http://bit.ly/1o6BerY)

Neighbors of the park rose at last Tuesday’s ANC meeting to question whether a Capitol Hill neighborhood is an appropriate place for a statue of a former slave holder who they said mistreated his slaves and participated in brutal tactics in a war against Native Americans.  Objections were also raised regarding the failure of the National Park Service to involve neighbors in the process, on the proposed statue’s negative impact on recreational use of the park and on the lack of provision for maintaining the site.

The National Park Service was on hand at Tuesday’s meeting, to justify use of the site for the statue – Marion Park is the last piece of federally owned land on South Carolina Avenue.  The agency received a tongue lashing from ANC commissioners who faulted them for failure to inform the ANC of the plan, failure to follow up on concerns raised about the project raised at the Planning and Zoning Committee earlier this month, and failure to coordinate the project with the neighborhood – as well as for the stalled work on improving the park.  Despite these reservations, the ANC approved a letter supporting approval for siting the memorial in Marion Park on a narrow vote of 4 – 3 with 2 abstentions.

Neighbors of the park have begun collecting signatures for a petition to the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission and other agencies to oppose the statue.  You can find the petition and the neighbors’ concerns in the Library at the top of the home page.  (See here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EVtv9FSomx3YhJxHKpqVBBw8sIsXMph-a0EMrLGiz3I/viewform?fbzx=-3859498444572146527 )

One of the neighbors, Helen Luryi, when asked about the feelings of the nearby residents, said, “Marion is a controversial figure.  We’re unhappy there’s been little input from the community and many of us are just now finding out about this proposal. The ANC let it go forward despite comments from the community that were 100% negative. The park has been under construction on and off for years – in fact, it’s under construction right now – and we just want to be able to use the park fully.  We have enough statues in DC and this park is a small, open space that a statue would ruin.”

Marion Park is between 4th & 6th Streets and E Street and South Carolina Avenue, SE.  It is also known as Turtle Park for the large turtle in the children’s play area.  MPD Substation 1-D-1 faces the park, as does Pleasant Lane Baptist Missionary Church.  The latter was designed for Mt. Jezreel Baptist Church in 1883 by Calvin T.S. Brent, DC’s first African American architect.  The proposed statue is the brainchild of John F. McCabe, a Columbia, South Carolina financial advisor.  (His website with additional information on the project is here:  http://www.swampfoxmemorial.org/)

The National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission will meet to hear the case for siting the memorial by Palmetto Conservation Foundation (a sponsor of the memorial, and based in Columbia, South Carolina) – in a public meeting on September 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm, in Room 311, the Boardroom of the Commission of Fine Arts, at the National Building Museum, 401 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C

Congress authorized the NPS to conduct commemorative work to honor Marion in 2008.  That authorization is likely to expire before the work is finished, requiring a re-authorization.

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Hine Litigant Files Complaint Against Mayor and DMPED on Transparency Issue

Hine Litigant Files Complaint Against Mayor and DMPED on Transparency Issue

by Larry Janezich

On Friday, September 12, Eastern Market Community Association (EMMCA) filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint with the DC Superior Court against Mayor Gray and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED).  The complaint was filed on EMMCA’s behalf by attorney Oliver Hall.  Hall also represented litigants (EMMCA was one)   opposed to the Zoning Commission’s approval of the Hine development as well as litigants opposed to aspects of the West End Library development.

The complaint alleges that DMPED violated the FOIA’s mandatory disclosure requirement because it has failed since November 1, 2001, to disclose records (specifically Land Development Agreements) which it is required to make public as a matter of law.  In addition, the complaint alleges that DMPED unlawfully denied, delayed and obstructed specific requests for the LDAs on the West End Library and the Hine Development.

EMMCA was injured, the complaint says, because DMPED’s failure to follow the law made EMMCA unable to introduce evidence before the Zoning Commission concerning the benefits and amenities portion of the Hine development PUD process.

A ruling in favor of EMMCA would not appear to have any effect on the on-going Hine litigation.  It could, however, require DMPED to follow the letter of the law regarding contract transparency.  Though EMMCA is claiming injury, the complaint asks the court to order DMPED to post all public LDAs (contracts) after November 1, 2001, on its website; and to declare that DMPED’s failure to disclose LDAs and a general index of public records on its website are contrary to law.

EMMCA has been at odds with ANC6b for many months over the issue of the Hine development, but they do agree on the issue of DMPED’s lack of transparency.  Last February, in testimony before the DC Committee on Economic Development, ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven joined appellants of the Hine project in agreeing that DMPED failed to respond properly to a FOIA request filed by Capitol Hill residents seeking details about the deal that DMPED struck with Hine developers Stanton/Eastbanc.  Flahaven said that DMPED “mishandled the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by community members and needlessly delayed and limited access to information…”  (See post on Brian Flahavan as well as then-Deputy Mayor Hoskins here:  http://bit.ly/1aVCuwD.)

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The Week Ahead…And New Questions About the Hine Re-Appeal

A new perspective of the 49 unit condo building planned by Madison Investments for 11th and I Streets, SE, showing changes made to the exterior design to incorporate additional features to make the structure more compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District.  Courtesy of Jeff Goins, of PGN Architects.

A new perspective of the 49 unit condo building planned by Madison Investments for 11th and I Streets, SE, showing changes made to the exterior design to incorporate additional features to make the structure more compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District. Courtesy of Jeff Goins, of PGN Architects.

The Week Ahead…And New Questions About the Hine Re-Appeal

Also New Perspective of 49 Condo Unit at 11th and I Streets, SE

by Larry Janezich

Thursday’s EMMCA meeting with ANC6B Commissioners Pate and Frishberg on the future of Eastern Market Metro Park comes at an interesting time, since both commissioners have raised questions regarding EMMCA’s decision to remain as a party to the re-appeal of the recent appeals court decision in favor of the developer on the Hine Development.  The court found that there was not sufficient reason to overturn the zoning commission approval of the development.  The Hine Coalition is re-appealing to the full nine member court (en banc).

CHC looked into the matter and find that neither EMMCA members nor the current EMMCA leadership was consulted on the decision to re-appeal.  Carl Reeverts, one of the EMMCA co-chairs and a candidate for a seat on ANC6B, writes: “the Hine Coalition did not consult with the current EMMCA co-chairs because the petition for rehearing was a customary part of the ongoing appeal process.”

In apparent recognition of this failure to consult membership or current leadership, EMMCA recently sent the following to its membership : “As we told you in the Sept. 3 EMMCA MATTERS, when the Hine Coalition asked for a rehearing en banc of the DC Court of Appeals Aug. 14, 2014, ruling, EMMCA continued participating in the 2013 appeal as an intervenor.  The petition for rehearing is customarily part of the appeal process.  Because we value the opinions of EMMCA members and want EMMCA to continue to be inclusive, we’d like to know if any EMMCA members have any input, comments or concerns about EMMCA’s continued participation in the appeal.”

Ed. Note:  According to the attorney for the litigants in the appeal of the zoning commission decision on Hine, the litigants filed a petition for rehearing after the initial decision of the appeals court.  The attorney states that this is not a new proceeding, but a normal part of the same appeal process that EMMCA joined in the spring of 2013.  Further, petitions for rehearing are expressly authorized by D.C. Court of Appeals Rules 35 and 40, and parties regularly file them when a court decision contains errors.  Finally, according to the attorney, this is not a new proceeding which was initiated without EMMCA’s consent – the litigants filed a petition for rehearing in the same appeal that EMMCA had already authorized.

Monday, September 15

Coalition for Better Planning press conference at 11:15am on the steps of the Wilson Building regarding a letter  to DC Elected officials and candidates for city-wide offices calling for reform of DC’s planning and development agencies.

Monday, September 15

ANC 6A Transportation & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury Elementary School (note location change – 1250 Constitution Avenue, NE)

Among items on the agenda:

Update from DDOT concerning H Street streetcar project.

Review of proposed DDOT regulations concerning operation of streetcars

Application for sidewalk café for Ben’s Chili Bowl café at 1001 H Street NE

Monday, September 15

ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury Elementary (1250 Constitution Aveune, NE)  Room assignment will be posted in lobby.

Tuesday, September 16

Department of General Services Surplus Hearing on Eastern Branch Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club, located at 261 17th Street, SE.   6:30 pm – 8:00 pm, Payne Elementary School (1445 C Street SE). Though titled a “hearing,” this meeting will be a much more informal discussion of the state of the building and the Request For Proposals process.

Tuesday, September 16

ANC6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm at Sherwood Recreation Center (10th and G Streets, NE).

Among items on the agenda:

Update on status of Settlement Agreement termination requests by H Street Country Club, Rock n’ Roll Hotel, and Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar.

Class B Retail license renewal for China House at 1601 Benning Road, NE.

Class B Retail license renewal for J & K Market at 234 15th Street, NE.

Class B Retail license renewal for M & T Grocer’s Beer and Wine at 201 15th Street, NE.

Wednesday, September 17

ANC6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Update on vacant and blighted property list

Update on WiFi at Potomac Gardens

Wednesday, September 17

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) meets at 7:00pm in the North Hall, Eastern Market.

Thursday, September 18

Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA) meets at 7:00pm in Southeast Library.  The meeting will feature a discussion about the priorities, schedule and implementation of the proposed Eastern Market Metro Park. ANC Commissioners Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate will share up-to-date information about the status of the plan and next steps. Barbara Riehle and Senda Benaissa, EMMCA’s members on the planning committee, plan to discuss their comments on the plan priorities and budget use developed after the last task force meeting.

Thursday, September 18

The Historic Preservation Review Board will meet at 9:00 a.m. at 441 4th Street NW in Room 220 South.

Among items on the agenda:

12:45 – 1:30 – demolition permit for the “shotgun house” at 1229 E Street, SE.

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Ninth Street Dumpster Nightmare – City Fines Bystander

City Workers Clean Up Overflowing Dumpster behind Marine Barracks on 9th Street, SE

City Workers Clean Up Overflowing Dumpster behind Marine Barracks on 9th Street, SE

Ninth Street Dumpster Nightmare – City Fines Bystander

by Larry Janezich

Ninth street residents who became the victim of both a negligent contractor and the contracting homeowner as well as the lack of response by the city when they sought help in resolving a trash issue have been issued a citation for not addressing the problem themselves.

Last March, a contractor engaged in a renovation project on the 700 block of 9th Street, SE, placed a dumpster (by order of an Emergency No Parking permit, valid through the first week of August) mostly in front of a property at 736 9th Street adjacent to the job site.  The address has been the residence for the past 43 years of David and Adrienne Umansky.

As the renovation progressed, the dumpster was emptied once and replaced.  Before being hauled off again, however, the contractor went bankrupt, and despite being covered by a tarp, the dumpster gradually attracted a mountain of trash and garbage from nearby residents and passersby.

According to the Umanskys, the owner of the property being renovated tried but was unable to find the company who owned the dumpster “since the contractor was bankrupt. “  The Umanskys and their neighbors, they say, called 311 to report the problem numerous times in June and July with no response to their concerns.

Finally, last week the city moved to address the problem.  ANC Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg was instrumental in finally getting the city to take notice.  Oldenburg told CHC, “When neighbors reported the overflowing dumpster to me, I called the [DDOT] Deputy Associate Director who directed inspectors to check out the matter.  Over the course of a week, citations were issued to both the dumpster firm and the contractor who had hired the dumpster.  The firm tried to remove the dumpster several times but could not because of a car parked in front of it.  On Tuesday, September 9, [DDOT] Inspector McCreary got DPW to tow away the parked car and the dumpster was removed.  At [Tuesday night’s ANC6B] meeting I thanked DDOT’s Public Space Regulations Administration and, especially their Inspector McCreary who doggedly managed to resolve a very messy and complicated situation.”

Grateful for finally having the problem resolved, the Umanskys were less happy when they received a citation last Thursday levying a $75 fine for “Failure to maintain abutting public space.”  The ticket was accompanied by a photo of trash which had been placed next to the dumpster.  The Umanskys have reached out to DDOT to appeal the ticket and left messages, but as yet have received no response.

Last Thursday night, the neighboring ANC6A north of East Capitol, sent a letter to DDOT asking them for information regarding the process for issuing emergency no-parking permits and opportunities for the ANC to weigh in on longer-term permits.  No such action has yet been considered by ANC6b.

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Kraze Burgers Out of Barracks Row

Kraze Burgers Will Not Be Returning to Barracks Row - ANC Asks Landlord What Will Replace It?

Kraze Burgers Will Not Be Returning to Barracks Row – ANC Asks Landlord What Will Replace It?

Kraze Burgers Out of Barracks Row

Landlord Under Pressure from ANC/Neighbors

by Larry Janezich

Kraze Burgers’ landlord, Streetsense (no connection to the newspaper of similar name), told Capitol Hill Corner that the enterprise has regained control of the space at 431 8th Street, SE, formerly occupied by Kraze Burgers.

The move came after protracted litigation resulting from Kraze Burgers’ inability to pay their rent.  The restaurant – wracked by internal disputes (see here:  http://bit.ly/1h8zbTV ) – has been closed since March of this year.  Streetsense owns the building where Kraze Burgers operated and Chipotle still does.

On Wednesday, September 3, three ANC Commissioners – Brian Pate, Ivan Frishberg, and Phil Peisch – carried their concerns about the Kraze Burgers site and the 400 block of Barracks Row to a meeting with Streetsense President, Guy Silverman.  The 400 block is frequently characterized as “in trouble” owing to a multiplicity of problems, many of which concern corporate owned fast food outlets.  The commissioners, convinced that “casual fast food dining” on the block has not worked out, were worried about what was in store for the space.

According to Pate, the commissioners discussed the possibility of Streetsense putting something other than a restaurant in the location.  The space commands a premium rent of $80 a square foot – one of the highest in the city (for comparison purposes, the average rent at Union Station is $75 a square foot).

Frishberg subsequently told CHC, “It would be great to get retail but anybody who thinks we will get retail at current rent levels is smoking crack.  Small retail can’t afford the $80 a square foot – they can’t pay half that rent.  For a lot of the retail people who can pay that much, the space is too small.  My impression was that Silverman received the ANC’s concerns honestly.  I said things that were exceedingly direct…There are problems with that location and they are not all Streetsense’s fault.  Not every Chipotle has a security officer to keep order.”

Last Saturday, a delegation of three nearby neighbors met with Silverman and Streetsense co-founder Marc Ratner  to emphasize the concerns of the 7th Street neighbors who back up to the restaurants on the 400 block of 8th.  Those concerns involve fried meat cooking odors, noise, trash, and vermin.  After the meeting, participants said it appeared that Streetsense recognized their concerns, and while not dismissing those concerns outright in the meeting, they nevertheless preferred to not deal with them.  Neighbors reported that Streetsense is not willing to take less rent for the space, saying they were told that $80 a square foot is what Streetsense investors expect.

The neighbors represented by the delegation are the very same neighbors that pressured &Pizza into a Best Standards operating agreement last week – an agreement which is likely to become standard for Barracks Row and other commercial areas in ANC6B.  (See the preceding CHC post.)

Last May, these neighbors circulated a flyer and petition that was signed by some 95 residents opposing any additional fast food outlet on 8th Street and urging the ANC to require all existing and new restaurants to meet Best Operating standards.  Many petitioners urged a moratorium on liquor licenses as well.

Neighbors said it was largely their experience with Streetsense, Kraze Burgers and Chipotle that led them to collect signatures against & Pizza and Chipotle after & Pizza and Chipotle were unwilling to consider indoor trash storage and odor mitigation.

Frishberg says that it’s not clear that Kraze Burgers should have been allowed to open on Barracks Row without a fast food exception.  Now it appears, in light of conditions on the block, any restaurant coming into the space will be under increased scrutiny as to whether it meets the Office of Planning’s broadening definition of who needs a fast food exception.  Any restaurant requiring the exception – and thus, ANC approval – undoubtedly will become subject to the new operating standards as a condition of that exception.  Should a non-fast food restaurant come into thee space as a matter of right, the ANC’s leverage will come from any application for a liquor license, which Kraze Burger did not have but which any non-fast food restaurant would most likely need.  Kraze Burgers did not have an operating agreement with the ANC, but did have operating conditions written into its lease with Streetsense.  These conditions, however, did not prove to be adequate to protect the neighbors from odors, trash, noise, and vermin.

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