Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures in Final Court Review of Hine Project

Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures in Final Court Review of Hine Project

Litigants Cite Recent Court Decision Faulting Sloppy Zoning Commission Review

By Larry Janezich

Last Friday, Oliver Hall, the attorney for the Hine Coalition, filed a response to a Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB) request for expedited resolution of the Hine Coalition’s appeal of a recent Appeals Court decision ratifying the Zoning Commission (ZC) approval of the Hine Development.  Hall’s response said the Coalition and Intervenor EMMCA not only had no objection to expedited resolution, but that they also seek expedited resolution of the appeal.   (ed. note: phrase in italics has been corrected to reflect language of the response.)

Hall cited a Court decision just one week before SEB filed a request for expedited consideration in the Hine appeal.  It that decision, the Court slammed ZC procedures and remanded the controversial 901 Monroe Brookland project to the ZC to justify its support of the project.  Opponents of the Brookland project had asked the Court to overturn the ZC’s approval which opponents said was too big for Brookland and too dense for the community.  The Court decision came with a reprimand to the ZC for failure to act as factfinder – “to neutrally find the facts, then apply the appropriate law and thus determine the outcome.”

According to the Washington Business Journal, the ZC has never rejected a PUD.  The Court’s critique of the ZC’s standard operating procedure on PUD’s sets a precedent for the agency’s accountability – which the Commission has long been accustomed to operating without.

At the heart of the Court’s criticism was the ZC’s verbatim adoption of the Brookland developer’s proposed findings of fact in response to the Brookland litigant’s appeal of the ZC’s decision.  The Court opined that the procedure “raises serious concerns as to whether the Commission order actually reflects a considered judgment by the Commission as to the arguments of the parties.”

Hall says in his filing that the ZC relied on the developer’s report in the Hine development in a similar manner, pointing out the ZC’s verbatim adoption of “paragraph after paragraph and page after page of SEB’s proposed findings.”  When raised as an issue in the initial appeal, Hall says the Court treated the ZC reliance on SEB’s proposed findings as a non-issue.  The filing goes on to point out specific instances where the ZC failed to explain its reasons for approving the Hine PUD’s height and density.

Two of the partners in the Brookland project (200 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail, two blocks from the Brookland-CUA Metro) will be familiar to the long time followers of the Hine project: the Menkiti Group (one of the finalists in the Hine development selection) and Esocoff & Associates, an architectural firm and one of SEB’s partners in the Hine development.

The Zoning Commission is the curious “independent, quasi-judicial” body which makes decisions every month affecting the quality of life in DC’s neighborhoods.  Three members are DC residents appointed by the Mayor.  One member is a representative of the Architect of the Capitol. One member is a representative of the National Park Service.

Here is a list of the current ZC Members and excerpts from their public profiles from the ZC website.

Chair, Anthony J. Hood

Chief of the Printing and Mail Management Section, Facilities Operations Branch, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC; Member, Board of Directors of the Bryant Park Homeowners Association; Member, 5th District’s Citizens Advisory Council, Member Bryant Channing Streets, Orange Hat Patrol; Deacon, Greater First Baptist Church of Washington, DC.

Vice Chair, Marcie Cohen

Retired from (unspecified) public and private sectors; recipient of Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design; former Visiting Senior Scholar, Great Cites Institute, University of Illinois; former Vice Chair of DC Housing Authority; former Board Member, National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Robert Miller

Former Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs; former Legislative Counsel to the DC Council Chairman; Member, National Capital Planning Commission.

Michael G. Turnbull, FAIA  – Architect of the Capitol Designee

Assistant Architect of the Capitol; former Director of the Department of Design and Construction at the Art Institute of Chicago; Member, American Planning Association.

Peter G. May – National Park Service Designee

Associate Regional Director for Lands, Resources, and Planning with the National Capital Region of NPS; former project administrator, Architect of the Capitol; former Deputy Director of Operations in the District of Columbia’s Office of Property Management; former architect with Weinstein Associates Architects (no relation to Amy Weinstein) and Quinn Evans | Architects; Board Member Capitol Hill Community Foundation; former member of District of Columbia Public Schools Modernization Advisory Board and Committee of 21.

61 Comments

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61 responses to “Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures in Final Court Review of Hine Project

  1. Vernon

    I don’t understand. Your first paragraph clearly states SEB requested expedited procedures. The Hine Coalition agreed.

    Clearly, the headline misleads the reader.

  2. AnonX

    O Vernon! Perhaps you did not read the vilifications of the Hine Coalition in SEB’s holier-than-thou request for expedited procedures — weeping over their supposed loss of money caused by the Coalition’s supposed irresponsible tactics of sheer delay. Perhaps you even dream that SEB is on the side of the angels. Do wake up. Wake up — and cry for the loss of your historic neighborhood. Oh — but you don’t even live here!

    • This is the kind of nasty little response that one can expect from anonymous posters. I have had my disagreements with Vernon on substance (and tone occassionaly) but he was one of the most super engaged, constructive and persistent citizen advocates for the neighborhood. Vernon’s point is right about the headline relative to the first paragraph. The headline says “Hine Coalition Requests Expedited Procedures…” but then the text says “Hall’s response said the Coalition and Intervenor EMMCA had no objection to expedited resolution.”

      Maybe if the actual filings were linked to we could sort out the nuances here but from the available quotes I think Vernon’s point is absolutely correct and is just an acknowledgement that if all you read was the headline you would have a very different understanding than if you read the whole article. It’s a very fair observation and does not merit the nastiness.

      • Kathleen

        It’s interesting and instructive for me when Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate assume their lecturing posture. For instance, when they decry litigants pursuing a legal remedy for what was, essentially, a failure of the political process; or above, when they lecture someone on tone.
        What’s amazing is not what they say, but that they think they have anything even approaching the place to say it. They are both a big part of the reason why the political process failed, and, Ivan, the neighborhood is littered with stories of your dismissive remarks.

    • The Hill Source

      “holier-than-thou” Really? I read the request, and if anything it was rather tongue-in-cheek considering what they have been put through. These people (Hine coalition) bought property steps way from a very busy metro station, what did they expect was going to happen? The original design was more than appropriate considering its location. Comparing the Hine project to the Brookland project is silly. There is no comparison to be made. I’m told by the way, that the Brookland project has don wonder for the CUA surrounding neighborhoods.

    • AnonY

      This process has taught me that I’d rather deal with government incompetence than neighborhood incompetence – at least we’re afforded the opportunity to vote out the former. This Hine coalition has done enough to delay this project, and their views simply are not representative of the neighborhood as a whole, no matter how loudly they scream otherwise. The problem, of course, is that we’ve got no recourse, so they have been able to play this pointless game for years, assisted by an attorney who makes his living playing – and losing – this game all over the city. It’s a shame. And for the record, I own a home in the neighborhood, two blocks from the Hine site.

      • The Hill Source

        I own a home within a block of the project and I could agree more with you post. It’s time to put an end to this silliness and let the developers break ground.

      • anon

        let their arguments withstand legal scrutiny and due process and I’m all in favor of proceeding with this underwhelming project.

    • The Hill Source

      SEB’s comments were fair and to the point. That said the Hine’s 13 should be be vilified for draging our comunity through the mud for the past five years.

  3. Maggie Hall

    What is important/disturbing in this piece is the make-up of the Zoning Commission. Who knew! And what hits home is that the good folk of Brookland went through the same thing and came out the losers. If only the court was brave enough to, bright enough, to say: hang on, there’s something not right here….

  4. You know who it is.

    Exactly, Maggie. But Ivan wouldn’t want us to discuss anything BUT his agenda. Glad you guys got an office outta your Hine negotiations, but really at this point, you’re beginning to just look foolish, Ivan.

    I’m so glad someone is looking at the zoning process, as attending zoning hearings for the Hine Development showed me how broken DC is when it comes to development.
    Brian Pate and Ivan Frischberg played right into the hand of the developer. We leave anonymous comments because we have all been abused before, Ivan. I can post the awful emails where you had a fit and called me names if you like. Your call.
    Have a nice day. 😉

    • Apparently I know only that you spelled my name wrong:) I thought my defense of Vernon – a frequent critic of mine and someone who was a competitor for the ANC spot four years ago, was absolutely fair and to the point. I call it like I see it, and I thought Vernon had a fair point and would not have responded if it had not been for the nasty anonymous post attacking him.

  5. Sigh

    This is dragging on longer than the streetcar. As a typicl progressive and transit oriented millenial, I cannot wait for this ordeal to be over. Apparently neighbors prefer drunken homeless surrounding a decaying building, rather than a nice (subjective, I know) new mixed-use development. I am glad I will outlast the legacy folks living on the Hill. Let’s start turning the earth!

    • The Hill Source

      Absolutely agree. This project started off as an amazing opportunity for the neighborhood. As a result of the Hine Collation’s tactics all the best tenets have moved on.

      • Maggie Hall

        The tenants moved on because the orginal plans were ‘secretly’ changed. Had those plans – that the community signed-off on, the council too – gone through everything would be up and running.

      • The Hill Source

        Not true. I am close friends with the Shake Spear Theater CEO. They moved because they are quickly out growing their current location on 8Th st and could not afford to wait for the legal battle to be resolved. Instead, they have settled on building new office space near the old RFK stadium. I’m fine, if you don’t agree with my stance, however lying in an effort to backup your argument only weakens you case. This is typical of the Hine’s 13, and exactly why you have lost so decisively.

    • anon

      “ordeal”? really? sorry it’s been so hard on you all these years. is it messing up the view from your parents’ basement?

  6. The Hill Source

    This all sums up to a small group of people unhappy with the courts ruling. Here’s an interesting fact, the Hine Coalition has been fighting the developer for nearly five years and have lost every court battle.
    The developer has bent over backwards for a few naysayers to that don’t like the plans because it will block their precious sun light. The real travesty her is that a small group of individuals were allowed to manipulate PUD laws to holdup development of sorely needed housing and retail in our neighborhood.
    I’m so fed up with these people; their views do not reflect the needs or desires of the larger community living in Eastern Market.

  7. Sarale

    As someone who has stayed entirely out of this saga but who is also a 20+ year resident of the Hill, I know that I represent the views if many of my neighbors in saying that the Hine Development as conceived in the latest plans is anathema to us. The scale and scope of the project is entirely outsized and will destroy the character of our community. So many of us love our Capitol Hill community precisely because it does not look other DC neighborhoods where über- development is changing the idiosyncratic and intimate character of residential neighborhoods.

    I am older than the millennial a who want to start “turning the dirt,” but I not anti-progress. It is fine to improve that piece of dispossessed, ugly real-estate but the sense of place and scale have been set aside by the grabbing perogatives of the developers and the
    City officials and community boards that sign off on their plans. The developers are not our neighbors; they are in it for the cash and will be long gone while we settle into our reconfigured neighborhood. Many of us intensely dislike this project; it’s jus that our lives are too busy to intercede and our passivity means we are being rolled over and simply accepting it.

    Shame on the majority of us who are so unhappy with the development plan and are too preoccupied to stand up to vested an internecine interests.

    • Maggie Hall

      BRAVO!!

      • The Hill Source

        Not true. I am close friends with the Shake Spear Theater CEO. They moved because they are quickly out growing their current location on 8Th st and could not afford to wait for the legal battle to be resolved. Instead, they have settled on building new office space near the old RFK stadium. I’m fine, if you don’t agree with my stance, however lying in an effort to backup your argument only weakens you case. This is typical of the Hine’s 13, and exactly why you have lost so decisively.

    • The Hill Source

      So the 13 Hine Coalition members equals consensus among the entire Hill community. I think you need to brush up on your math skills.

      I don’t see how this building is destroying the character of the Hill, it sits across Easter market metro and a four lane major thru-way. Have you looked at the other buildings in proximity to this development? They are bland and devoid of any character. I see this project has a major upgrade for the eastern market Neighborhood.

      Take for example the gaudy art deco building directly across from the Hine project, or worse the MedStar building just down the street from the Hine school on 7th ave.

      Again the Hine project is located on a section of Pennsylvania Ave dominated by retail and restaurants, and sits directly across from a very busy metro station….the scope and scale of this project is more than appropriate for its location.

    • The Hill Source

      This is my favorite line of your response. “Shame on the majority of us who are so unhappy with the development plan and are too preoccupied to stand up to vested an internecine interests.”

      So nearly five years of drawn out court battles and the Hine Coalition has not managed to grow beyond it’s 13 original members. I don’t buy it. If there was greater support from the larger Hill community the coalition would have grown substantially in the past five years.

      I’ve live in the community for many more years than you, and I can tell you will all certainty that this project was a welcome change from the rat invested building that we have today.

  8. Sarale

    One of the Halle he’s is that, naturally, all the comments are subjective. Who’s lived here longer and who’s been more or less entrenched in the debate for longer is not really the point. It’s still “our” community. I think few are out and out opposed to the (a) development as much as to how this development will look, ultimately.

    If anything the coalition is probably guilty of being poor community organizers. Again, I ask what efforts have been made to poll the larger community? Much of this debate has stayed below the radar.

    It’s ok to reference rat-infested eyesores ( true enough) but the antidote could be many things– how about a 2-3 story edifice ( whatever it houses) that doesn’t dwarf all we have now?

    It reminds me a little of the “pop-up” housing trends all over the city. It’s legal and kosher but it isn’t nice.

  9. Sarale

    I apologize for my typos…

    I think the last point I’ll make ( as my original post somehow didn’t get posted) is that strong-arming the community and calling each other names is not an especially good way to play this out.

    I think I’m also suggesting simple populism. What does the majority of the community really want and what efforts have been made to find out? The notion of a group of thirteen (only) has made it pretty easy for the pro-development group to combat, claiming they are a small group of nay- Sayers. Thus it plays out as a David and Goliath story on many levels.

    What about simple populism? Why not a referendum or some other way of truly getting community input so that it’s not all about strong-arming in both directions?

    I submit that I don’t think it is. The rancor seems to have somehow left us with dichotomous choices only — all ( an outsized development) or nothing ( let the rats have free rein?).

    Yes, it’s dragged on, costing the developers money, but it’s not so hard to find out what the community REALLY wants.

    I think you’d find out that it’s a compromise that has yet to be designed. Very few oppose change; it’s the kind if change that we question.

    • The Hill Source

      So the developers held many meetings, at last count they held well south of 40 meetings between the various community organizations and ANC. As a result of these meetings their plans have changed a great deal from the first renders presented to the community. The current project plan represents a compromise between the developer and the larger CH community that is more than fare. Let’s start moving dirt.

      Bottom line, the Hine’s 13 made this out to be about fair and affordable housing for the poor and middle class, when in fact every meeting was punctuated by the size and scale of the project and how it would block light on 8th street.

      This close-minded thinking will destroy the community. These same people for year opposed modern fire safety in new and remolded buildings for years. It to the fragers fire to convince them they were wrong.

      If we don’t learn out how to work with city and developers coming into the Hill we will lose our voice, because they will work around us, rather than with us.

  10. Wonder Woman

    I’m sure glad to know what Ivan and Brian are doing while they’re ‘working’ at their ‘real’ jobs.

  11. Craig D'Ooge

    Yes, let’s get this capitulation to developers over asap, so they can go work their mixed use magic on the Frager’s site. Watch for the 50 foot height restriction to be lifted because of “economic hardship.”

    • The Hill Source

      Personally, I see no problem if roadside wants to build 10 story building. These buildings are sitting on pen nave, it’s not like they are trying to build a ten story building just off of Lincoln Park.

  12. Sigh

    First off, this millenial lives in a converted sunroom that I pay more than my folks place mortgage in the ‘burbs. Second, it does not matter how long lives in one place if the law permits changes to our urban form. In this case it does allow that. Cities are constantly evolving. Your views don’t have to, but the landscape most certainly will. I’m sure each older generation bemoans development. Plus ce change, plus ce meme chose.

    • anon

      or welcomes development that makes sense in each context and doesn’t just serve some broader notion of urbanity espoused by said millenial

  13. You know who it is

    The bottom line is, people feel the headline is misleading because the truth doesn’t fit into the narrative that Brian and Ivan spoon feed to their lists.

    The Hine Coalition has always wanted this appeal to be expedited. Show me evidence where this was not the case. Please. My knowledge of the case has shown me at least TWO requests for the court to expedite.

    Just because your opinion is that this appeal of the PUD is to delay, does not actually make it fact.

    Brian, you admit zoning is problematic, but for some reason don’t want it fixed in this case. Your unwavering support really looks questionable. (Regardless of how either of your names are spelled 😉

    • Anon

      Forget the appeal, the opinion of many in the neighborhood is that the entire endeavor is to delay. You’re using an attorney who has a winless record in these suits, which he files all over town on behalf of Ralph Nader. You really thought this thing was going anywhere? Or, did you see it as yet another thing you could do to delay a project that you happen to disagree with, for whatever subjective reasons you wish to provide? At some point, when you keep losing on every argument you conceive, and are backed only by a lawyer who has already lost all of these arguments in previous cases, you’re being a self-serving obstructionist, not an advocate for any neighborhood cause.

    • Jon

      You know who it is,
      Absolutely wrong. The facts are clear:

      One of the primary petitioners stated the following while soliciting support for the initial appeal:

      “My reason for doing this is that I have learned that this could be one last possible step that might work to delay the Hine development until more public support against it and the “smart growth” fad that threatens the neighborhood around Eastern Market can be martialed – again not an easy undertaking.”

      How much more clear can it be? Delay has been a goal from day 1.

  14. Vernon

    Holy Moly,

    All I did was comment on the headline, not the content or the underlying issue. If the writer of the column has valid issues to report, it serves no real purpose to mislead the reader right off the bat. For me, it leads me to wonder about the objectivity of the article.

    Vernon

  15. The Hill Source

    100% Agree. It is time I put my PR skills to work and start my own blog. The CH community needs objective insight into the interworking of the Hine 13, and various community groups that work to push their agenda ahead of the needs of the greater community.

    • Anon

      Start here, from the Washington Post, April 21, 2014; this attorney has hijacked our neighborhood in exactly the same manner as he’s done elsewhere. The only saving grace is that history shows very clearly that he will lose, eventually. See if this sounds familiar:

      “A developer says he plans to break ground within months on a downtown project on District-owned land that was delayed for nearly two years after an activist group affiliated with consumer advocate Ralph Nader sued to stop it. The move comes after the D.C. Court of Appeals, the District’s highest court, denied a request from the activists to rehear the case. The court’s April 7 order came nearly nine months after it first ruled against the Nader group and more than six years after the project was first proposed … Oliver B. Hall, an attorney for the activist group, said he was disappointed by the court’s one-sentence order denying the request for further review.”

      Full article available here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/2014/04/21/f148ce0a-c97a-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

  16. The Hill Source

    Your name suggestions are appreciated. Post them here.

  17. Sarale

    Still an outsider and kind of amazed by the back an forth here: seems like a lots of ugly name calling and character assassination.

    The attack themes to be:

    Old vs young, which is absurd. More positively framed this is a reasonable difference of views about aesthetics and what should happen to a changing urban community.

    No one is good or bad in this. Again it’s about difference perceptions of progress and growth. To portray those opposed to the Hines Project as “Nadarites” is just plain funny. Really? So now we are pointing to sweeping generalizations about who is on what side– on the basis of political affiliation. Nadar liberals are not opposed to progress and change, I don’t think. Do you? And where did this “Nadar” aspersions come from.

    Don’t sling so much much over legitimately different views.

    The prior assumption in all if this that the gang of thirteen are a bunch of Luddites, somehow pernicious and standing in the ways of some other folks view that the project, as currently conceived, is digressive and unhelpful.

    Again, I ask about the prior assumption: that the community is sick of “delays” an wants to get this moving. Yes, no one wants the rats and the delapidsted building. Claiming that “everyone” is sick if it doesn’t make it so. It just means that string-arming is going on

    Prove that the community wants it this way. Those who stomp all over the views of the small group if activists have little evidence they are in the majority– no matter what they say.

    This issue is bigger than the legal antics and the decision if a judge on whatever he sees as the facts

    Instead it should be a reasoned discussion between community members who each have legitimate views. All or nothing is just creating rancor. How about a mediator or negotiator. It’s not too late.

    Let’s build a neighborhood that all of us like. An overpowering structure that is out of scale and not complementary to the existing feel if Capitol Hill doesn’t feel like the answer. Ten years from now we’ll have an outsized complex that no one particularly likes and no one will remember or care about what got us to this place.

    Trust me, lots of folks who have nothing to do with the “Nadarites” don’t like this plan. Give us a plan for a construct that fits into our community’s vision for itself and we will come along!

    • Anon

      You are simplifying the issue if you think this is about political ideology. Ralph Nader spends millions fighting public private land transfers and development deals, in Washington, a city he claims to be a “resident” of because he owns a home in Dupont (yet doesn’t live in it). He does this in the name of “populism.” The Hine lawsuit is one of many examples of these types of lawsuits filed around the city which, again, are funded by Ralph Nader. This isn’t a political commentary, it’s commentary re: who pays Oliver Hall’s bills. Hall, the attorney litigating the Hine case, is employed by, and paid by, Ralph Nader, to litigate these types of cases, which he has done previously throughout the city. He has been unsuccessful each time. It has nothing to do with political affiliation; again to suggest it does and assume that Nader is a liberal therefore a progressive therefore in favor of all forms of “progress” is an inaccurate simplification, to say the least. These are facts, not political characterizations.

      • E. Masquinongy

        Your principle complaint is against Ralph Nader and not ‘the Hine 13′. Say it: you these homeowners’ agenda is highjacked. You might have a point — Nader has always sought the spotlight, and will use any issue to promote himself, often at the expense of the best thing to do. But you undermine it with your untempered loathing of what are probably good neighbors doing what they think is right.

        Go ahead, start your blog. It should be amusing reading during lunch (consider that a suggest for the title).

  18. Jon

    Their agenda hasn’t be hijacked. Their objectives are aligned with Nader’s- which is to delay the project. I don’t presume that it is their only objective, but it is a stated objective. And it has been one of the only tangible results of their efforts. Which, unfortunately, has easily observable negative consequences for everyone else.

  19. Jeb

    Let’s place blame where it belongs, the Hine 13 hired Nader and his lawyers to due their bidding for a reason. I doubt Nader knows much about this case; moreover would he use this case to raise his profile in the media. This is a small time case for his legal team. Someone said it early in this seemly never ending thread that the Hine 13’s objective was to delay this case until the bitter end…I believe that is the bottom line truth of this 5 year neighborhood nightmare.

    What we have here is small group of neighborhoods living near Pennsylvanian Ave and 7th who don’t want this building to loom over their homes. Unfortunately for these neighbors there are several flaws in their argument;

    1) There are a string of large buildings on Pennsylvania adjacent to this project, starting with art deco building on 7th.

    2) None of these buildings are as pleasing to the eye, except maybe art deco bulling on the corner of Penn and 7th.

    3) This project is directly across from one of the busiest metro stops in the city (Metro’s stats, not mine).

    4) Looking up pen ave toward the capital building I don’t see a lot of buildings that have much if any historical value. Walk the street and take a hard look at the buildings that line this street.

    5) The project faces Penn ave (very wide and highly trafficked four lane street)
    I could go on, but I need to leave for the National’s game. In fact, I recommend all of us put this issue to bed for the weekend and use this extra time to root for the Nat’s.

    • E. Masquinongy

      Jeb, you couldn’t be more wrong.
      1. Eastern Market itself is the real historical jewel. This new building will completely overshadow it — literally.
      2. The Hanes building, on 8th & Pennsylvania, shares the Eastern Market Square. It was built in 1892, and originally was 4-story department store. The new building will be markedly taller.

      In fact, this building will be 2-3 stories taller than any other building within a mile (not including the Capitol itself, and the strangely tall building at 121 12th St SE). Review SEB’s drawings here: http://www.hineschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/HPRBsubmission.pdf, which show how it is taller than every building on Pennsylvania Ave. It exceeds the commercial zoning established decades ago, and is essentially spot zoning. This is stepping over the line.