The Week Ahead….

The rise of the Hine project signifies a new and different dawn for 7th Street, SE

The rise of the Hine project signifies a new and different dawn for 7th Street, SE

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 8

  1. ANC6D meets at 7:00pm at 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor.

Agenda not available at press time.

Tuesday, February 9

  1. ANC6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Election of Committee Chairs.

Establishment of Task Forces and Election of Chairs

Presentation:  Sarah Fashbaugh, Community Resource Advisor, Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration.

Matchbox, 521 8th Street SE, substantial change due to expansion of 1,600 square feet (formerly Las Placitas) resulting in an additional 45 interior dining seats, 14 bar/counter seats, and six exterior patio seats.

Rear 1524 Independence Avenue SE: Parking for Zip Cars.

Letter to DDOT on Southeast Boulevard Feasibility Draft Report.

  1. PSA 104 meets at 7:00pm at Stuart Hobson Middle School, 410 E Street, NE.

Wednesday, February 10

  1. ANC6C meets at 7:00pm, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

Agenda not available at press time.

Thursday, February 11

  1. ANC6A meets at 7:00pm at Miner School, 601 15th Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Community Presentations:

Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden

MPD First District Commander Robert Contee

Letter of support to BZA for the technical modifications that the developer is submitting for 1300 H Street, NE.

Letter of support to BZA for a special exception to allow construction of a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling at 230 12th Place, NE.

Letter of support to BZA for a special exception to allow a third-story addition to an existing one-family dwelling at 619 Elliott Street, NE.

  1. CHRS Zoning Committee meets at 7:30pm at 420 10th Street, SE.

Saturday, February 13

  1. Valentine’s Concert & Sparkling Wine Tasting to benefit Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church. 6:30pm at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.  Concert sung by CHPC Choir & friends.  Tickets available at http://www.capitolhillpreschurch.org/

$15 concert only – $30 concert and tasting – $55 for 2 concert and tasting tickets – $100 4 tickets for concert and tasting (childcare included in ticket price).

  1. Friends of Southeast Library holds a book sale from 10:00am – 3:00pm at Southeast Library. Volunteers to help set up at 1:00pm on Friday, and take down at 3:00pm on Saturday, are most welcome.

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New Indie Bookshop Opening Near Eastern Market

Future home of East City Bookshop

Future home of East City Bookshop

645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

New Indie Bookshop Opening Near Eastern Market

by Larry Janezich

Capitol resident Laurie Gillman will open a new indie bookshop at 645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, this spring. The shop is planning a grand opening celebration the weekend of April 30 which will continue through Sunday, May 1, coinciding with this year’s Literary Hill Bookfest at Eastern Market.  A soft opening is planned for the first few weeks of April.  The announcement is in keeping with the quiet revival of independent book sellers in an era which has seen the closing of one chain bookstore outlet after another.  Gillman says, of the 3,200 square foot space, “It will be great to have East City Bookshop, Labyrinth, and Capitol Hill Frame & Photo together as a bright spot of retail in the neighborhood.”

According to the shop’s website, East City Bookshop will cater to book lovers of all ages.  The shop will compete with on-line booksellers by focusing on community engagement – providing “top-notch” customer service, a venue for author events, and space for hosting book clubs in in the shop’s lounge space.  In addition, East City Bookshop will feature letterpress cards, a curated selection of prints, and locally made items.  Gillman says, “We will have online sales and they are pretty speedy.  We will never be able to compete with Amazon on price, but indie bookstores offer so many other things like real people and customer service – we will focus on those…. I’m learning that there are plenty of people who prefer to pay a few more dollars and support their neighborhood businesses.”

Asked what brought her to the decision to open a bookstore on Capitol Hill, Gillman says, “About a year ago, I realized that I was annoyed by the fact that I had to leave the neighborhood to go to a bookstore….Then I became a little obsessed by the idea of an indie bookstore in my neighborhood.  I couldn’t let it go….”  She chose the name East City Bookshop, because she wants to serve the eastern side of the city, where there are no general interest bookstores.  The new store recalls Trovers Books, the much-loved 50 year community institution at 221 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, which closed in August, 2009.

The new outlet will be the third bookseller on Capitol Hill, joining Capitol Hill Books, a used book store on at 657 C Street, SE, and Riverby Books, at 417 East Capitol.  The Fairy Godmother, at 319 7th Street, SE, is a children’s bookstore that has served Capitol Hill for some 30 years.  East City Books sees room for a customer base not served by any of these outlets.

For more on East City Bookshop, see the website here: http://www.eastcitybookshop.com/

 

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The Week Ahead….Mayor’s Ward 6 Town Hall Meeting on Affordable Housing, the Homeless & Crime

The Bank of America ATM on Barracks Row - 425 8th Street, SE

The Bank of America ATM on Barracks Row – 425 8th Street, SE

The ATM's interior last  Wednesday afternoon speaks to the casual  indifference  of the bank or the clientele or both.

The ATM’s interior last Wednesday afternoon speaks to the casual indifference of the bank or the clientele or both.

The Week Ahead….Mayor’s Ward 6 Town Hall Meeting on Affordable Housing, the Homeless & Crime

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 1

  1. ANC6C ABC Committee meets at 7:00pm at Capitol Hill Medical Center/Kaiser Permanente, 700 2nd Street, NE.

Agenda:

New hotel license for MHF NOMA, 1225 1st Street, NE.

Updates on old business:  Addis Ethiopian at 707 H Street, NE; Craft Beer Cellar at 301 H Street, NE; Po Boy Jim’s  at 709 H Street, NE; The Alibi at 237 2nd Street, NW; Toscana Café,  601 2nd Street, NE; Sugar Factory, 50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE;  and XO at 15 K Street, NE.

  1. CHRS Historic Preservation committee, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Tuesday, February 2

  1. ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue, SE.

Among items on the agenda:

Support for 11th Street Bridge Park: Scott Kratz, Director of the Bridge Park Project.

125 D Street SE, rear addition/concept. (Ari Gejdenson of Aqua al II, owner)

647 South Carolina Avenue, SE, two-story rear addition replacing existing two-story pavilion/concept.

1247 E Street, SE, request for a 2-Year Extension of the expiration date of the Order granting use variance relief to operate a restaurant in the ground floor space at 1247 E Street, SE.  Also, a variance request to convert storage space at the address into a residential unit.

1620 and 1622 E Street, SE, request to permit construction of three-three story flats on three nonconforming lots.

1445 C Street, SE, (Payne Elementary School) for a special exception from the rooftop mechanical equipment requirements to allow the installation of new rooftop mechanical equipment to an existing school building.

229 10th Street, SE, special exception to construct a three-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

Rear 1524 Independence Avenue, SE, request for a variance from the off-street parking requirements to commit parking spaces to a car-sharing service at premises (rear) 1524 Independence Avenue, SE.

  1. ANC6C Parks and Events Committee meets at 7:00pm at Capitol Hill Medical Center/Kaiser Permanente, 700 2nd Street, NE.

Agenda:

Updates on neighborhood use of Stuart Hobson Middle School field; Reservation 84 improvements; and NoMa parks issues.

Capitol Riverside Youth Sport Park – Presentation concerning CRYSP’s effort to turn parking lots north of RFK Stadium into playing fields and green space.  Representative:  Mike Godec, President, CRYSP.

Wednesday, February 3

  1. Mayor Bowser’s Ward Six Town Hall Meeting, 6:30pm – 9:00pm, a Friendship Public Charter School, 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE, (across from Harris Teeter).

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilmembers Charles Allen and Anita Bonds, with Office of DC Attorney General and DCMPD will participate in a Ward Six Town Hall Meeting to discuss 1) Affordable Housing and Services for the Homeless, and 2) Crime Prevention and Criminal Enforcement.

  1. ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Capitol Hill Medical Center/Kaiser Permanente, 700 Second Street, NE.

Agenda:

1105 Abbey Place, NE, application of Robert Bailey for a special exception to enclose a rear porch for an existing one-family dwelling in the R-4 District at premises.

629 L Street, NE, application for special exceptions to construct a second-story addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the R-4 District.

Burnham Place (project to deck over tracks north of Union Station) (non-voting) – Informational presentation by the developer concerning the expected review process and schedule for the project to deck over the tracks & construct numerous new structures. Representative: David Tuchmann, Akridge.

Status update on efforts toward DCRA reform

  1. ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 7:00pm, in Hill Center.

Agenda:

DDOT Traffic Calming Study Progress and/or results: 12th and G Streets, SE.

ANC 6B Comments on DDOT Southeast Boulevard Feasibility Study

ANC 6B Report to the Mayor on Reflections on Snow Team Operations during Blizzard 2016

Thursday, February 4

  1. ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Agenda:

Matchbox, 521 8th Street, SE, expansion of 1,600 square feet resulting in an additional 45 interior dining seats, 14 bar/counter seats, and six exterior patio seats.

  1. ANC6C’s Transportation and Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Capitol Hill Medical Center/Kaiser Permanente, 700 2nd Street, NE.

Agenda not available at press time.

  1. PSA 107 with Acting Captain Damion Taylor meets at 7:00pm in Southeast Library, lower level.
  1. Friends of Southeast Library (FOSEL) meets at 5:30pm, in Southeast Library, lower level.

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City Says No To Treehouse Over Archibald Walk

The treehouse over Archibald Walk will have to Be moved back off public space

The treehouse over Archibald Walk will have to Be moved back off public space

City Says No To Treehouse Over Archibald Walk

Owners Say OK – But There Will Be A Treehouse

by Larry Janezich

The city told the owners of the treehouse over the historic residential alley Archibald Walk that the structure cannot extend into public space over the alley.  The owners – Bing Yee and Ellen Psychas – say they will move it off public space, but the tree house will stay.

The DDOT’s Public Space Committee met Thursday morning to hold a hearing on an apparently inappropriately issued permit authorizing construction of a “balcony” in public space which allowed the treehouse to be constructed.  At today’s hearing, the question was not on the “balcony” permit as such, but on what committee chair Matthew Marcou deemed a request for a permit for playground equipment in public space.

After hearing support for the treehouse from from Yee and opposition from several neighbors, Marcou, made the motion to deny the permit on the basis that the owners admitted they could have built the structure entirely on their property, that the structure extends substantially into a narrow ten foot wide alley, and that the request was not in keeping with previous approvals of playground equipment on public space.  The vote was 4-0-1, with only Chris Bailey – the DCRA’s representative on the committee – abstaining.

The owners of the tree house say they are disappointed and that they have looked at the feasibility of moving the tree house back so that it does not extend over the alley.  They cite offers of help from architects to redesign the treehouse and from neighbors who do not live on Archibald Walk to help with construction.  Psychas said, “The treehouse is going nowhere.  It will be moved.  We have to do it for our daughters.”

The five member Public Space Committee was established by order of the Mayor to regulate the use of public space – usually defined as the city’s green space but extending to streets, sidewalks, and alleys.  (Oddly, there seems to be no public record of the membership of the Committee.)

Public wrangling over the tree house (first reported by CHC here http://bit.ly/1W7GgGp) has been on-going since mid-January.  Neighbors objected to the structure because of the precedent it would set and for safety reasons, but seemed most upset at the “overwhelming” visual intrusion at what some of them characterized as a very special historic space.  ANC6B Commissioner James Loots, testifying in opposition on his own behalf and not representing the ANC, told the Committee that the alley was unique and historic and it is the front yard of the residences on Archibald Walk.  He said, “This is public space in the truest sense…and approving the permit would dedicate this public space for exclusively private purposes.”

ANC6B had previously opposed the extension of the structure into public space – all be it in the form of opposing the “balcony” permit – by a vote of 8-0-2.

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ANC6B Signs Off On Major Retail/Res Project on PA Avenue – Approves Community Benefits Package

 

View of project looking Southwest.  Renditions showing May 28 version (left) and current version (right).

View of project looking Southwest. Renditions shows May 28 version (left) and current version (right).

View of the development approaching from the east.  Rendition on left is from May 28 - current  version on right.

View of the development approaching from the east. Renditions show May 28 version (left) and  current version (right).

Foot print of first floor showing available retail space.

Foot print of first floor showing available retail space.

Left to right:  Robin Bettarel, Director of Developent, CAS Riegler; Kevin Riegler, Partner, CAS Riegler, Kevin Sperry, Antunovich Associates Architects; Daniel Chao, ANC6B10

Left to right: Robin Bettarel, Director of Development, CAS Riegler; Kevin Riegler, Partner, CAS Riegler; Kevin Sperry, Antunovich Associates Architects; Daniel Chao, ANC6B07.

ANC6B Signs Off On Major Retail Project on PA Avenue – Approves Community Benefits Package

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night ANC6B voted to support the major retail/residential project at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, and the package of benefits and amenities to compensate the community for allowing greater height and density than city regulations would otherwise allow.  The vote was unanimous, 8 – 0; the endorsement goes to the Zoning Commission where it will be taken into account while considering the developer’s request for zoning changes to accommodate the proposed size of the project.

The developer, CAS Riegler, said the mixed retail/apartment project is a retail project at heart, with 19,000 square feet “Class A” retail, 58 parking spaces, and 174 residential units.  The defining feature of “Class A” appears to by 18 foot ceilings in the retail space on the first floor.  Above, there will be six levels of residential with a masonry and glass façade.

ANC6B Commissioner Nick Burger’s Planned Unit Development (PUD) Subcommittee has met with residents over the past few months to solicit ideas for a package of benefits and amenities to present to the developer.  CAS Riegler responded with a list of projects the developer was willing to proffer to the community.  The ANC considers, amends, and subsequently agrees to or rejects the package on behalf of the community.

Here’s the package that the ANC agreed to:

Affordable housing (required by DC regulations but counted as a community benefit).  CAS Riegler says this takes away $734,160 from the value of the project for them.  This amounts to a developer subsidy that is made up for by increasing the costs of occupancy for the other market rate occupants of the project.  An unusual twist is that CAS Riegler will provide four 3 bedroom apartments (virtually unheard of) as half of their requirement, as well as two each of studio, one, and two bedroom apartments for their balance.  Value:  $734,160

Potomac Metro Plaza improvements including enhanced greenspace and improved safety.  Value:  $50,000.

Improvements to the playground at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary with the provision that the school will allow public access to the playground during non-school hours.  Value: $75,000.

Improvement to the playground at Hopkins Apartments with the provision that Hopkins will allow public access to the playground during daylight hours.  Value: $20,000.

Tree canopy improvement in Ward Six.  Value:  $5,000.

Enhanced and improved alley system behind the development between 14th Street and Ives Place, SE. Value:  $65,000.

Transit benefits to promote reduction in the use of autos by residents of the development, including 1 year membership of Capital Bikeshare membership, 1 year of Car2Go membership, SmarTrip card, promotion of bicycle parking for residents, visitors, employees, and customers of the development, as well as a transit screen for the building’s lobby to inform residents and visitors of real time transit options.  Value: $65,550

At the insistence of ANC commissioner Daniel Chao, the developer agreed to contribute an additional $20,000 toward several projects requested by the residents of Potomac Gardens, including modification of the fence around the site, better security cameras, and increased access to Wi Fi.  PUD Subcommittee Chair Nick Burger pledged to seek additional funding for Potomac Gardens from two other developers – Insight Development and OPaL, LLC, which are undertaking Planned Unit Developments near the Southeast Safeway.

Before the vote on supporting the project and the benefits package, former commissioner Ken Jarboe – who participated in the discussion as a resident member of the Planning and Zoning Committee – questioned whether the community was receiving enough in exchange for the greater height and density being requested by the developer.  Jarboe said that the developer was asking for a building 78 high instead of the 50 feet permitted by right and doubling the density for the site.  In return, he said, the community was getting a lot of Class A retail, 4 three bedroom affordable apartments, and some $300,000 to spread around on various projects. Jarboe said that he personally thought the building was one floor too high.

Commissioner Nick Burger appeared to represent the consensus of the commission when he pointed out that two benefits which were not in the agreement were the transformation of a pizza outlet and a vacant lot into an asset for the community and cited the need to add more housing in a city with a housing crunch as justification for the height.  He said he was sensitive to the impact of the building on the neighborhood and urged the developer to take additional measures to change the perception of the height of the building.  He added that he agreed that “at some point we have to consider how much building development we want.”  But tonight was not the night when that question would be raised.

CAS Riegler recently developed the former Edmonds School in northeast Capitol Hill into condo units ranging from 500 square foot one bedroom apartments to 1700 square foot lofted three bedroom units.  CAS Riegler’s intention to develop the Pennsylvania Avenue project was first reported by Capitol Hill Corner last January:  See here:  http://bit.ly/1V7kul0.  A subsequent report was posted here:  http://bit.ly/1n8MJF2.

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The Next Two Weeks Ahead….and ANC6B Special Call Meeting on Tuesday

Eastern Market, Tuesday, January 5, circa 7:00pm

Eastern Market, Tuesday, January 5, circa 7:00pm

The Next Two Weeks Ahead….and ANC6B Special Call Meeting on Tuesday

Monday, January 18

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Most city agencies closed.  Trash and recycling will be picked up on Tuesday.

(ANC6A Transportation Committee, which is scheduled to meet the third Monday, will meet this month on Thursday – see below)

Tuesday, January 19

  1. Canceled.  [ANC6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm in Sherwood Recreation Center, corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.]
  1. ANC6B will hold a Special Call Meeting on the Planned Unit Development at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, (NY Pizza Site Development) at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

The purpose is to discuss and vote on a Memorandum of Understanding with the developer and package of Community Benefits to compensate the community for a change in zoning permitting increased height, mass, and density for the project.  The draft MOU and Benefits documents will be posted on the ANC website prior to the meeting.  http://www.anc6b.org/

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board of Directors meets at 6:30pm in Capitol Hill Townhomes, 750 6th Street, SE

Wednesday, January 20

  1. ANC6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, in Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

Agenda:

1701 H Street, NE:  The PUD seeks a land use designation change from the existing C-2-A to C-2-B in order to develop the Property. The property is currently unimproved and the Applicant proposes to construct a mixed-use building with approximately 14,342 square feet of ground-floor retail uses and 180 residential units on nine floors above.  The applicant will also use the PUD process to obtain relief from other requirements of the Zoning Regulations, including the parking, loading and roof structure requirements.

1300 H Street, NE:  The developer will update the ANC on our progress and confirm in-person that we remain on schedule. The developer also wants to inform the ANC of technical modifications of plans that were submitted. They are submitting a refined level of building drawings to the BZA.

2. PSA 105 meets at 7:00pm in Southwest Public Library, 900 Wesley Place, SW (corner of Wesley Place and K St. SW)

Thursday, January 21

Police Service Area (PSA) 108 meeting at 7:00 p.m. in Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE.

Monday, January 25

  1. ANC6A Transportation & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE. (Photo ID required)

Agenda not available at press time.

  1. ANC6A Community Outreach Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury ES (multi-purpose room), 1250 Constitution Avenue, NE. (enter from 13th Street, NE)

Agenda not available at press time.

Tuesday, January 26

  1. ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the February 9 meeting of the full ANC6B.

Monday, January 25

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm in the North Hall of Eastern Market (Instead of on Wednesday, January 27) 

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The Fridge Hosts Art Exhibit to Benefit Bogota Orphanage

Some of the more than 80 pieces in the current exhibit.  Those marked with red dots have sold.

Some of the more than 80 pieces in the current exhibit. Those marked with red dots have sold.

The Fridge Hosts Art Exhibit to Benefit Bogota Orphanage

by Larry Janezich

Columbian artist, art director and designer Mas Paz, http://maspaz.co/, curated the fundraiser supporting La Casa De La Madre Y El Niño orphanage, Bogota, Colombia. This exhibit features over 70 artists from DC, New York, LA, Miami, Canada, Puerto Rico and Peru.  According to The Fridge, all proceeds raised will go towards the construction of a new dining room for the children at La Casa, where MasPaz was adopted.  The show runs through January 31.  More than 500 people attended the show’s opening reception.

The 12″x12″ pieces are priced at $300.  Limited edition prints and t-shirt will also be available.

Additional events associated with this exhibit include:

Saturday, January 16, 3 – 4 pm

Make your own 12”X12” canvas.  Bring your creative soul and come surround yourself for 2 hours with amazing pieces of art as you paint something unique with the help of artist and curator of the show, MasPaz. He has taught workshops in Colombia, Canada, Brazil, and NYC.   the Bronx all the way to VA!

  • Open to all ages.
  • Come with a creative mind and painting clothes
  • All supplies provided: canvas, paints, brushes. (If you have any materials (cut outs, photos, paints, brushes, markers) that you might like to use, feel free to bring them along)

$30 (or pay what you can) including materials

JUST SHOW UP + PAY AT THE DOOR (cash/credit)

Thursday, January 21 – Artist Panel Discussion*

Saturday, January 23 – Graff Class with DECOY*

Friday, January 29 – Closing Reception

*Contact Alex for registration here:  http://www.thefridgedc.com/

The Fridge is located at 516 1/2 8th Street, SE, across the street from Matchbox Pizza on Barracks Row, and behind the Shakespeare administrative offices.

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ANC6B Votes to Oppose Tree House Extension in Public Space Over Archibald Walk

ANC6B Votes to Oppose Tree House Extension in Public Space Over Archibald Walk

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B voted to recommend that DDOT deny the public space permit the agency issued which permits a tree house in Archibald Walk to project some two feet into public space over the narrow pedestrian residential alley.  See CHC post here:  http://bit.ly/1P4gqO0

The vote came after considerable hand wringing by some commissioners.  Planning and Zoning Chair Nick Burger said he didn’t see the harm of the projection into public space, “we see bays in public space all time.”  None the less, he said, “the regulations are clear that balconies are not permitted to extend into public space. I don’t support the opponents of the treehouse regarding their objections that the tree house is not in keeping with the historical nature of the alley, but regarding the application for a balcony the rules are clear. I will probably abstain. I don’t see a clear path forward.”

Burger questioned the owner as to why DDOT had classified to structure as a balcony, noting that absent the public space issue, the matter would not be before the ANC.  The owner said he had relied on DDOT’s judgement.

Commissioner Samolyk expressed sympathy for the applicant saying that he was paying the price for a “screw up by DCRA – these people spent money and relied on DCRA’s judgment that they wanted to build would not need a permit.”

Apparently, DCRA has no provision for issuing a permit for the construction of a tree house, and property owners have a right to build whatever they please as a matter of right.

Commissioner Jim Loots, in whose single member district the tree house lies, said, “It seems to me the applicant has been consistently and inappropriately dismissive of the neighbors’ concerns. The opposition of the neighbors is not retaliatory, not anti-child, and not generational as he stated to me today. The question is whether this particular special public space should be used for this purpose.”

Nearby neighbors submitted the names of 11 nearby residents opposing the tree house and provided extensive documentation backing up their claim that the tree house owner had been negligent in informing neighbors of his proposed construction and cited discrepancies in the owner’s written claims to DDOT, particularly his assertion that he had contacted ANC6B during construction, when he had not.  Neighbors claim that permits are supposed to be a matter of public record, available on line, but this permit was not.  They filed a Freedom of Information Request to get the permit and accompanying documentation.

Commissioner Brian Flahaven, who will resign his seat on Friday for family reasons, suggested language to amend the Planning and Zoning Committee’s recommendation that the ANC oppose the public space permit to clarify that the ANC was making the recommendation on the basis that DDOT had classified the structure as a balcony and DC regulations prohibit balconies from projecting into public space.

The Commission voted to approve the language by a vote of 8 ayes, 0 nays, and 2 abstentions – Commissioners Krepp and Samolyk.

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ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven to Resign Seat on Friday

Watkins School.  ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven Works the Polls, circa 9:50am.

Watkins School.  Brian Flahaven Works the Polls, November 4, 2014

 

ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven to Resign Seat on Friday

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B09 Commissioner Brian Flahaven announced that he will resign his seat on ANC6B effective Friday, January 15.  The reason, he said, is that he and his wife are expecting their second child in April.  The couple had their first child last year.

Flahaven was first elected to ANC6B 2010 with a group of reform candidates determined to bring change to an ANC which was widely regarded as insular and unresponsive to community concerns.  He drew support from residents in Hill East who sympathized with his claim that the proposed Barney Circle Historic District was being foisted on Hill Easters against the wishes of a majority of the community.  The proposal, which had received ANC6B approval, died while before the Historic Preservation Review Board after Flahaven was elected.  Flahaven went on to establish the ANC’s Hill East Task Force largely comprised of community residents to advise the ANC on matters concerning Hill East.

Flahaven served two years as Chair of the ANC, in 2013 and 2014.  During his tenure, he lead a successful effort against proposed residtricting changes for Hill East in 2011 and pushed the city to close DC Gerneral.  Flahaven was regarded by many as a strong voice for development in ANC6B as evidenced by his support for the Hine Development, development of Reservation 13, RFK, and the new Southeast Boulevard as well as residential projects on Pennsylvania Avenue and along the 15th Street, SE, commercial corridor.  Flahaven also pushed hard for redevelopment of the Boys and Girls Club in Hill East, but turned critical of the Department of General Services (DGS) restrictions which seemed to limit the financing to Low Income Housing Tax Credits.  The community and Flahaven strongly supported a mixed income project.  Community opposition eventually lead DGS to withdraw the RFP.

As ANC parliamentarian, Flahaven undertook the massive job of rewriting the ANC’s by-laws and worked long to continue the work started by former ANC commissioner Brian Pate to update and modernize the ANC’s website.

Flahaven’s last ANC6B meeting will be tonight at 7:00pm in Hill Center.  To read his statement announcing his retirement posted last night on his website, go here:  http://bit.ly/1JH3nWz

Once the vacancy is official, the Board of Elections will announce procedures for a special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Flahaven’s term through January 1, 2017.

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“Tree Mansion” Has Archibald Walk Residents Up in Arms

 

The entrance to Archibald Walk invites passerby to glimpse into a residential alley and part of Washington's past

The entrance to Archibald Walk invites passerby to glimpse into a residential alley and part of Washington’s past

A left turn at the end brings the "tree mansion" into view.

A left turn at the end brings the “tree mansion” into view.

The green line on the ground is where DDOT says the owners' property line ends.

The green line on the ground is where DDOT says the owners’ property line ends.

To put the structure in context, the tree house overhangs the portion of the alley seen here

To put the structure in context, the tree house overhangs the portion of the alley seen here

“Tree Mansion” Has Archibald Walk Residents Up in Arms

by Larry Janezich

Lax enforcement of public space regulations by DDOT appears to be the culprit at the heart of the squabble which has the residents of Archibald Walk up in arms over what one observer called a “tree mansion” which extends over the alley.  Those angry neighbors are unanimous in claiming the structure has a negative impact on their quality of life.

Last Thursday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee considered an application for a public space permit by the owner of the tree house that would retroactively sanction the extension of the tree house into the public space over Archibald Walk.

In brief, the owners of one of the homes on the narrow, U-shaped pedestrian residential alley in the center of the block bounded by G and E Streets and 6th and 7th Streets, SE, undertook the construction of a large tree house for their children.  After being told by the Department of Regulatory Affairs that no permit was necessary, the owners proceeded with construction, until receiving a stop work order issued by DDOT, apparently because of the public space issue.  Despite the demonstrable projection of the tree house some two feet into public space over the alley, and for reasons that are unclear, DDOT subsequently issued a ten day permit for the construction of a “balcony” and the owners completed construction.

Although the structure is within the Capitol Hill Historic District, since no DCRA permit is required, there is no historical preservation review of the structure.  Still nearby Barracks Row Heritage Trail signage speaks to the historical character of the alley: “In 1897 the alley had 22 tiny dwellings sheltering well over 100 people. Today six remain….The six survivors are now prized residences along Archibald Walk, named for long-time Capitol Hill resident Archibald Donohoe.” See here:  http://bit.ly/1Se698w

One of the owners of the tree house told the Committee that neighbors’ objections to the treehouse are retaliatory, based of actions of children in Archibald Walk who damaged their potted plants “illegally placed in public space”  and because “they don’t like kids.”

Neighbors say DDOT ignored DC regulations prohibiting balconies from projecting over alleys, and are asking ANC6B to deny the applicant’s request for retroactive approval of the DDOT permit which residents uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request.  They note that the extension over the alley into public space which DDOT sanctioned requires a variance which would have brought the matter before the ANC for consideration.  Neighbors also point to the precedent-setting nature of the permit asking, “Do we want tree houses protruding into public spaces all over Capitol Hill?” There are no letters from immediate neighbors which support the treehouse and five strongly-worded letters in opposition.

ANC6B Commissioner James Loots (in whose single member district the project lies) told the applicant, “If the permit for use of public space is not granted [the applicant] will have to remove the treehouse.  I 100% disagree with the characterization of the applicant that the neighbors’ complaints are retaliatory. The question is, is this appropriate use of public space?”

In the end, the Committee voted to recommend to the full ANC that DDOT deny the public space permit that would allow the tree house to extend into public space.  The vote was 7 ayes, 2 nays, and 2 abstentions.  Planning and Zoning Chair Nick Burger and Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg voted against the recommendation.

In an email to Archibald Walk residents last month, Loots said: “We were successful in getting DDOT’s Public Space Committee to hear this as a formal matter rather than just approve the requested permit administratively, which is why ANC6B will get to formally weigh in on the case when it is heard by DDOT.  Because ordinary procedures do not appear to have been followed in this matter, it was not properly noticed or timely ….”  Loots went on to say that he had been told informally that the permit may be heard at the Public Space Committee Hearing on January 28.

The full ANC6B will consider the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Committee when it meets next Tuesday, January 12, at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

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