Editorial: The ANC6B Vote on Hine Tuesday Night

Editorial:   The ANC6B Vote on Hine Tuesday Night

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B will vote on its conditional support of the Hine Development.  It will be the last opportunity for public input at the community level before the Zoning Commission hearing on the issue on Thursday.  Despite the Eastern Market residential community sending ANC negotiators back to the developer with instructions to take more height off the 7th and Penn Office building and despite wider community concern about the fate of the flea market, the negotiators were unable to get further concessions from the developer on either of these issues.  It appears, in fact, that the flea market didn’t come up and that the ANC is relying on a speculative legislative solution proposed by Councilmember Wells which purports to make the flea market a non-issue before the ANC and the Zoning Commission.

What the community is getting from the developer in return for the impact of the development on the neighborhood is precious little: a minimal height concession on the 7th and Penn building, $50,000 in landscaping for Metro Plaza, and a subsidized childcare center somewhere for a minimum of 24 children.  It doesn’t seem like much, and it isn’t.  The developer appears to believe that by providing the benefit of 34 additional affordable housing units above what is required that they have done enough – maybe more than enough.

Unless the community can convince the ANC otherwise, it is likely to vote to endorse the project, despite recent letters from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing raising concerns about specific transportation and affordable housing issues, and despite the reservations of the once-Stanton-supporting Capitol Hill Restoration Society.

Ideally, ANC6B would vote down the conditional endorsement of the project and go to the Zoning Commission without a position and say that the developer has failed to address the major concerns of the community and ask the Office of Planning to require mediation by an outside mediator before any zoning change.

By not requiring more of its ANC representatives – who after all, were negotiating on behalf of Councilmember Wells, who pledged to support whatever position the ANC takes – the community has shortchanged itself.  It can redeem itself Tuesday night at the 7:00pm ANC6B meeting at Hill Center.


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10 responses to “Editorial: The ANC6B Vote on Hine Tuesday Night

  1. David Healy

    $50,000.00 won’t make a dent in Metro Plaza.

  2. J. jones

    This is going to become a real failure on the part of the capitol hill historic district and surrounds to maintain its distinction – and $50,000- it costs that much to do a small yard unless you are just planting hostas! Washington has become full of new high rises and development–there is so little unique and also highly used , written about nationally – and well visited that remains – why is that not a consideration for this developer.

  3. Bobbi Krengel

    Not only that, but there is already a Congressional earmark for the metro plaza, which, after all, is a Federal reservation, isn’t it?

    The ANC needs to break down the components of this complex issue and take them down to where there is agreement, they need to separate out support for redeveloping Hine (no-brainer) from support for the SEB project as designed (controversial) from support for the zoning application (highly inappropriate).
    At a minimum, the ANC should take a vote tonight on whether or not to support the application before the Zoning Commission.

    There is unanimous support in the neighborhood for the redevelopment of the site, and a reasonable increase in the zoning designation in order to permit mixed use in addition to residential, and the opposition is only to the particular map amendment, due to its proposed zone designation, and only because the requested C-2-B zone district in the application is inappropriate, excessive, and self-serving on the part of the applicant, contrary to the guidance in the principles that underlie government policies on land use, and not consistent with the principles of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Historic Preservation Act of 1978.

    It is disturbing that opposition which is based solely on objection to the excessive multi-level zoning hike is being characterized as opposition to redevelopment, and likewise, that favoring redevelopment is being construed as implicit support for the application and its excessive zoning increase. A closer look at the content of the so-called “letters of support” in the Commission’s file reveals that these so-called “proponents” are in favor of the “project”, and yet that not one expresses support for the application and its major zoning increase, but only for the project in general. They are suspiciously silent on the subject of support for the bloated excessive upzoning. It is doubtful those authors would have said what they did had they been asked specifically to express support for the extreme upzoning contained in the application.

    It is both possible and reasonable to support the project while opposing the choice of zoning designation–the question is one of degree, not kind. The scrutiny of the details does not equate to a desire to prevent the project. The Hine site sits among residential row houses of mostly two and three stories, under 40 feet high, typical of the Capitol Hill Historic District; small scale retail beautifully retro-fitted into former row houses; a few slightly larger, significant buildings specifically built to celebrate some of the early larger-scaled retailers; and with an urban transit hub successfully integrated into it, which success; however, should not then overrule the more salient features of the neighborhood.

    Its current zoning classification is R-4, with a height limit of 40 feet, matching the vast majority of the neighborhood, surrounded by similar R-4 zone districts and C-2-A or CHC/C-2-A zone districts, overlaid with the Capitol Hill Commercial District, a medium density community business center with a height limit of 50 feet. The variations of bulk, massing and heights are organic and barely noticeable, being of limited degree. There is no other C-2-B zoning nearby, and consequently, such a designation for this site would be inappropriate, out of scale, and sufficiently anomalous to be considered spot-zoning.

    It is regrettable that this proposal has been advanced so far without adequate scrutiny of its alignment with guiding planning principles. But ushering it into fruition with all of its flaws just because of the time and money already invested in it only compounds the errors.

    There is no amount of money, benefits, or amenities that can mitigate the fundamental harm to our market district that would be caused by these inadvisable plans—out-of-scale, oversized building, insensitive design, private sale of a parcel of the land, private ownership of what should be a public street, and fatal shrinkage of public space intended for use by the flea market.


    Bobbi Krengel

    • Karen Kimball

      Well stated as always! Will you be there tonight? Would like to introduce myself and say hello.

      • Bobbi Krengel

        Thanks, Karen–it would be my pleasure to meet you as well. I will be attending to my mother this evening, so will be arriving late. I hope I make it in time.
        I meant to add that I have been reliably informed that C2A with PUD bonus would have a height limit of 65 feet. Although still too high for 8th Street, I think that’s a good solution, and one I would urge the commission to consider.
        But the ANC does not have to agree on appropriate zoning, all they have to do is take a position on whether or not they approve of C2A with PUD bonus.
        The main thing is to focus on getting the zoning right, and take a position only on the APPLICATION. Surely there is enough consensus to oppose granting the ridiculous C2B plus PUD = 90 feet plus 5% margin; and then trying to negotiate for voluntary reductions.
        Why would anyone hand over their treasure for free and then beg for adequate compensation?

        Bobbi Krengel

      • Randy Steer

        The ex-DOE Karen? Didn’t know you were in my neighborhood!

  4. Kathleen

    I think Larry is being generous, as he always is, by saying “negotiators” and “commissioners.”
    It’s really Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate.

    I would like to suggest a new model for commissioner service in ANC 6B. I have in mind something that is not magistrates for Tommy Wells in Tommyland, and not slavish service rendered to trivial processes in order to establish a name for yourself in the neighborhood before you move on to the next thing. I would even vote for someone who didn’t go to every meeting. What I have in mind is not selling the neighborhood out on important votes. Doing that, just that, and in a process that happens to matter to neighborhood and will redound for generations, would get my vote.

  5. Elizabeth Eby

    Planting doesn’t make any sense unless the developer is willing to invest in maintenance and access to water. Does anyone really want another browned out green space w rose bushed covered w weeds like the area across the street ?

  6. Karen Kimball

    Thoughts as we go into tonight and the zoning mtg…As tempting as it is to focus on the SEB offer as insufficient (50K etc), let’s keep the focus on our points (reduce the size/mass of the development, space for the market etc) and opposing the size not the development. Otherwise we risk turning this into a discussion on how much money it would cost to redo the Metro plaza. Let’s keep the focus on Hine.

    See you there! Karen

  7. Joe

    I agree with Bobby and Karen. While the $50,000 issue is great comic diversion, it doesn’t matter whether SEB offers $1 million for the metro plaza. That’s the trap that Brian Pate and Ivan Frishberg fell into that created a situation where, apparently, they are willing to vote for a project that almost none of their constituents support. SEB refused to be reasonable regarding the issues that matter. Thus, the ANC should, indeed must, take a stand in opposition to SEB’s request to the Zoning Commission. But the ANC pawns of Tommy Wells lack what is required to do the right thing. They fully know how the overwhelming majority of the community feels, but refuse to acknowledge it.