Applicant Drops Bid to Expand “Residence” Near Capitol

Non profit and other association operations in residential townhouses is a serious problem near the US Capitol, according to neighbors.  The 100 block of C Street, SE, behind the Madison Building is reported to have many such examples.

Non profit and other association operations in residential townhouses is a serious problem near the US Capitol, according to neighbors. The 100 block of C Street, SE, behind the Madison Building is reported to have many such examples.

Applicant Drops Bid to Expand “Residence” Near Capitol

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk told ANC6B last night at its March meeting that a request to relax zoning regulations to allow expansion of a townhouse close to the Capitol which houses the offices of a non-profit, had been withdrawn by the applicant.  No reason  was given for the decision.  The house in question is in Samolyk’s single member district.

Neighbors had mounted a fierce campaign in opposition to the expansion, claiming that it was being done under the guise of providing more living space for a family, while the real reason was to expand the useable space for the office of the non-profit.  Neighbors claimed that the applicant was not using the townhouse as a primary residence.  An occupancy permit for running a business out of a home is contingent on the primary residence status.  For the original posting on this issue, see here:  http://bit.ly/1SjTeRY

Larry Johnston, who lives adjacent to the property, emerged as the spokesman for more than a dozen neighbors concerned about the issue who were in attendance last night.  He urged the ANC to pay attention to the blocks near the Capitol which are “suffering the inclusion” of businesses in residential neighborhoods.

Samolyk, who last night was elected Chair of the ANC6B Task Force on Outreach and Constituent Services, said she had determined that while it is possible to contest a Home Occupancy Permit from DCRA which allows businesses to operate out of residences, they are rarely overturned.  She also expressed disappointment that DCRA had not responded to calls she had made regarding the current case.

Samolyk said she would convene a meeting of the Task Force and invite a representative of DCRA to attend to discuss the issue.  She also said she would invite ANC6C Chair Karen Wirt to attend the meeting.  ANC6C has similar issues on blocks in residential areas close-in to the Capitol on the north side of East Capitol street.  Other areas where businesses encroach illegally on neighborhoods include New Jersey Avenue, F Street, NE, and on First Street behind the Supreme Court.

Commissioner Denise Krepp pointed out to residents interested in pursuing the issue that another avenue of would be to testify before the upcoming DCRA oversight hearings.

Also in attendance at last night’s meeting was the new Ward 6 representative of the Mayor’s Office, Rachel Mariman.  Mariman succeeds Seth Shapiro, who moved to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation in February.  Mariman offered her assistance to Samolyk in getting the attention of DCRA.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Applicant Drops Bid to Expand “Residence” Near Capitol

  1. freshaire

    According to this posting, there appears that DCRA has some difficulty in answering resident’s inquiries. How do people get to be in DCRA? Are these paid positions or is all this voluntary? If appointed, who does the appointments?

  2. The applicant is unlikely to just walk away from this dispute. He will likely return with a lawyer to pursue his claim to the BZA. It would be interesting to see who is funding his building project.

  3. Elena Mcgrann

    Great piece Larry, thanks for all the information you provided about our street issue
    Elena Mcgrann
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Paul

    My suggestion for dealing with DCRA and DC government generally is to make the issue very specific. What is the problem and what specifically do you want to occur? If you have a particular property that you feel is in violation, and a preferably direct neighbor of the property is willing to make numerous phone calls and emails and follow up contacts to discover and engage the various relevant DC government people necessary to invoke change, it is possible to get DC government to act. Try to trace redundant paths to solving the same problem to increase the chance of success. Become an expert on the very specific issue or concern that you are pursuing. Look for future points of contact from each point of contact you make. Don’t assume anything actually happened unless you can verify that it did happen. Try to understand that many of the people you talk with are just as frustrated by the bureaucratic process as you, and try to solve problems, not just complain.

    Vague generalized complaints without follow-up will invariably be ignored for more pressing problems.

  5. I just read the original posting. Good for the neighbors! Its pretty clear these Chevy Chase invaders have been caught red handed. No thanks to Nick Burger and Oldenburg, who were the ONLY ones to support the variance. Its clear from their voting record that they consistently don’t care about upholding the rules that everyone else has to abide by, yet are quick to give their own opinions as if they are more important than the neighbors who know the most about what’s happening right next door to them. Good for them for speaking up and fighting to keep Capitol Hill a nice place for actual residents to live. Anyone in their voting district should take note that Burger and Oldenburg won’t protect your property rights.