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regulations to allow expansion of a townhouse close to the Capitol which houses the offices of a non-profit, had been withdrawn by the applicant.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.