Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine? A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine?  A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

by Larry Janezich

Following is a summary of the main points in the appeal of the Zoning Commission order on the Hine Development.  To see the full text of the brief, please open the “Library” page at the top of this home page, and click on the link to open up the pdf.

A group of nearby neighbors of the development petitioned for the appeal and were joined by a neighborhood organization – Eastern Market Metro Community Organization – as an intervener in the case.  They are being represented by attorney Oliver Hall, who filed a similar appeal regarding the West End Library Development on behalf of the D.C. Library Renaissance Project (DCLRP), a library advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader.  As it happens, Stanton partner Eastbanc is the developer of that project.

The DC Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing on the Hine appeal for mid-September but it could be several months before it hands down an order.  The deadline for transferring the land to Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB) – originally July 13th – was extended for six months by the City Council on Tuesday, July 10, to allow time for the litigation to be resolved and to permit resolution of a technical issue involving discrepancies in the surveys which were used to determine the Hine site property lines.

Summary of main points from the brief:

The Zoning Commission ignored the “obvious” incompatibility of the 94.5 foot seven story building in the community surrounding the project and sanctioned heights and densities double that of surrounding properties.

The Zoning Commission rejected the Comprehensive Plan directive that public property should be retained under public control based on “false assertion that the privatization of a public street does not implicate any of the standards for granting a PUD.’”

Multiple objections to the “affordable housing” provisions, including:

  • SEB’s proposal to segregate the vast majority of affordable housing units in the North building which is designed with considerable fewer amenities than for those in the South Building.
  • Expiration of the segregated affordable housing units in 40 years when they become market rate, resulting in the displacement of occupants and contravening the general policies of the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • Negligible public benefits and amenities
  • Failure of SEB to disclose to the Zoning Commission that District taxpayers are subsidizing public benefits and amenities including 46 units of affordable housing and the reopening (and privatization) of C Street.  “Based on information provided by DMPED:  deductions will be taken out of all Developer payments to the District for the property based on the Developer’s cost of providing District-mandated affordable housing, demolition of existing structures, environment remediation, construction of the 700 block of C Street, S.E., and any other related public improvements as required by the PUD.  In other words, under the LDDA, District taxpayers – and not Stanton-EastBanc – are to pay for the affordable housing units and the construction of C Street (both of which Stanton-EastBanc will own), as well as any other related public improvements…required by the PUD.   To the best of Petitioners’ knowledge, none of these facts were disclosed during the Commission proceedings.”
  • Lack of justification for transfer of the North Parcel to the developers at far below the market value.
  • Procedural errors involving making a decision based on an incomplete record owing to SEB’s failure to submit both the LDDA and the Covenant SEB is required to execute pursuant to the LDDA to the Zoning Commission.
  • Procedural errors involving SEB’s failure to disclose the value of the development incentives granted to it through the LDDA thus making the Zoning Commission unable to reconcile the relative value of the amenities and benefits vs. the development incentives and any adverse effects.
  • Failure of the Zoning Commission to make any finding of fact to support the change in zoning from R-4 to C-2-B.
  • The Zoning Commission ignored Inclusionary Zoning requirement regarding comparable amenities between market rate units and most of the affordable units
  • The Zoning Commission ignored the need for sufficient justification for the financial reasoning for segregating affordable units, relying only on two informal emails from the Applicant’s banking partners to rule out creating a truly inclusive mixed-income PUD project with permanent affordability as expected by Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • The Zoning Commission’s conclusion about the “29%” of the proffered affordable units being in excess of what is required does not take into account the disappearing affordability for the vast majority of the to-be-constructed affordable units. And because this disappearing affordability largely affects the lower income residents and seniors, this proffered benefit is greatly diminished.


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10 responses to “Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine? A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

  1. Derek Farwagi

    To add specificity to the point about the discounted price that SEB is paying for the property, the market value of the Hine School Property is estimated at close to $300 per square foot FAR, but the terms of the LDDA values the property at only $50 per square foot. An 80%+ discount in the developers favor financed by District taxpayers without a commensurate return in public amenities to the neighborhood.

    • Kirsten Oldenburg

      Would appreciate it if Mr. Farwagi would provide the source of his market value data. Thanks.

      • It’s in the Chief Financial Officer Report regarding the Hine deal as well as the old draft version of the Land Disposition Agreement, which has apparently changed but which the public has not yet seen the final terms of or what those changes are.

      • derekfarwagi

        Thank you “DC for reasonable development” for responding ahead of me. Your answer is absolutely right.

        Goes to show how diligent ANC commissioners like Oldenberg have been in assessing this project on behalf of our neighborhood they supposedly represent.

        This together with other the omissions in the PUD process they reviewd tells me Oldenberg and her coleagues should ideally stick to vetting liquor license applications and small home extensions.

        Clearly assessing a major development such as Hine is beyond their collective capabilities.

  2. Meg Maguire

    Larry, You provide a tremendous and timely service to all of us with your blog. THANK YOU!!!! Meg Maguire

    On 7/11/13 4:48 PM, “CAPITOL HILL CORNER” wrote:

    > ljjanezich posted: “Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on > Hine? A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal by Larry Janezich Following is a > summary of the main points in the appeal of the Zoning Commission order on the > Hine Development. To see the ful” >

  3. JoeOnTheHill

    Kirsten Oldenburg, thank you for providing such a nice example of what a joke you are. It reminds me that I attempted in the past to engage in intelligent debate with you and try to understand your pro-Too-Big-Hine stance, but I may as well have been communicating with my Golden Retriever.

    • Jpage

      While I have frequently disagreed with Ms. Oldenburg, especially regarding Hine, your comment is shocking in its poor taste and disrespect. All you are accomplishing is marginalizing what could be a productive debate.

  4. anon

    Whever you stand on the Hine redevelopment, there’s an air of inevitability to it. I don’t see that changing with this suit. I do find it interesting that some key areas of due diligence were grossly neglected, especially the survey errors.

    I’d also be curious to know if affordable housing advocates are pressing the inclusionary zoning issue or just the neighbors. Segregating the affordable housing contradicts the entire point of “inclusionary”

  5. lawyer neighbor

    As someone who has been asked to contribute to the cost of the appeal, I would actually like to read an explanation of “why” the neighbors are appealing the Commission decision (as opposed to a summary of the issues raised in the appeal). It seems to me that the appeal is merely an attempt to block or delay the project, by whatever means are available. The affordable housing issues raised prominently in the appeal were never a key part of the neighborhood’s concerns. It would be quite unfortunate if the appeal delays the project without improving the end result.

    • anon

      well put. if the size and scale is the biggest community hangup, the suit would need to reduce the size for a successful outcome. As much as I agree with that assessment I don’t see it happening. Guess I’m mostly resigned to it for better or worse.