Stanton Stacks the Deck Again to Show Community Support for Hine Project – Letters to Zoning Commission Fail to Disclose Business Relationships
by Larry Janezich
Since early April, Kitty Kaupp and Stanton Development have been soliciting letters of support for the Hine Development from their tenants, business associates, and friends in the Capitol Hill community.
Most of the letters of support for the project listed on the Zoning Commission’s website are from those who have some business relationship with the developer. As was the case with the letters of support in favor of Stanton Eastbanc during the selection process before Deputy Mayor’s office, many of these letters fail to state business or personal ties to the developer that would put the writer’s support in proper context.
Some letters from businesses like Randolph Cree, Marvelous Market or Sapore Oil and Vinegar properly identify themselves as retailers in the area, but do not mention that they are tenants of Stanton. Similarly, Coldwell Banker realtors also do not raise the connection between themselves and Ms. Kaupp, a principal of Stanton who is also a colleague at Coldwell. In her letter, Mary Lynn Reed says she is an owner of a number of Capitol Hill commercial properties, but does not identify herself as a Stanton partner.
One letter filed with the Zoning Commission inadvertently included a page of instructions, apparently from Stanton, on how to file a letter of support with the Zoning Commission, and requesting that such letters be copied to Kitty Kaupp at her Coldwell Banker email address. The instructions say that letters should be in the words of the writer and as personal as possible and prominently mention the word “support.”
The instructions go on to provide a list of topics or points that might be included in such letters, including:
High-quality development – a vibrant mixture of housing, office, restaurants and retail
20% of retail space for locally owned business
Will transform and enliven the streetscape
Beautification of the neighborhood
Re-opening of C Street
Architecture harmonious with the surrounding community
Affordable Housing units
Significantly, there is no mention of supporting the zoning change or exceptions that Stanton seeks, and virtually none of the letters address those subjects.
In all, of the 113 letters of support, there are not more than a dozen that can claim any degree of spontaneity. Twenty percent of the total is minimal – a single line of support for the project, and most of these submitted over a two day period. Given that none address the rezoning specifically, it is an open question whether these letters can be counted as support for the developer’s PUD application. There are also multiple duplicates in the Zoning Commission’s file. It is unclear how carefully these letters will be scrutinized, or what purpose they will serve in the Zoning Commission’s deliberations.