DC Office of Planning Offers Scant Criticism of Hine Development – Initial “Set Down Report” Downplays Community’s Concerns
by Larry Janezich
The Office of Planning (OP) has issued its “Set Down Report” on the Hine Planned Unit Development (PUD) project, recommending that the Zoning Commission proceed to a public hearing to begin the process for final approval of Hine developer’s request for a zoning change to permit greater height and density for the project. The earliest that final Zoning Commission hearing could happen would be in April, but a May or even a June date is more likely.
The Planned Unit Development (PUD) process is designed to encourage high quality development that provides public benefits when development requires zoning changes. Generally, in exchange for the zoning changes which permit greater height and density, the process requires that a development’s impact on the surrounding area be “either favorable, capable of being mitigated, or acceptable given the quality of public benefits in the project.”
Occasionally a Set Down Report takes issue with a development, recommending changes to the proposal before the Zoning Commission proceeds any further with the case. Yet, in the case of Hine, OP did not quarrel with the density of either the residential or the commercial building, which it deemed “moderate.” Nor does it take issue with the maximum building heights – 54 feet for the 8th Street residential, 64 feet at 8th and D, 88 feet for the 7th and PA office building – down to 51 feet nearer C Street, and 74 feet for the residential building at 7th and C, diagonally across from Eastern Market. Likewise the report raised no issue with the 47 foot maximum height of the North Residential building. As residents have pointed out, the Hine proposal as it currently stands is the largest development to come to any historic district in the DC.
Thus far in the PUD process, in addition the height and density, residents have expressed concern over aesthetics, parking issues, loss of green space, space for the flea market, ambiguity over the control of C Street, and the prospect of retail development on the here-to-fore exclusively residentially-zoned 8th Street.
The Zoning Commission will hold the first of two hearings on the PUD process on Monday, February 13, at 6:30pm. This will be a conversation between the developer, Stanton/Eastbanc, and the Commission; the public will not be permitted to participate. The public will participate at the second and final hearing which is likely to occur in May or June. Both hearings will be held at the Zoning Commission at 441 4th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20001 in Room 220 South.