Hine Neighbors Fault Contractor/City on Construction Traffic-Safety Concerns
Express Worry that Qualifier Puts Community Day Care Benefit at Risk
by Larry Janezich
According to nearby residents of the Hine project, some critical construction traffic and safety provisions – agreed to by developer Stanton Eastbanc (SEB) – are being ignored by the contractor – Clark Construction. The provisions are detailed in the Construction Management Agreement (CMA) hammered out with SEB by ANC6B and neighbors * most affected by the development.
Those neighbors have been organized as the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) which meets monthly with the developer and the contractor to discuss construction management issues. Part of the reason for the unhappiness is that the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) appears to have given the contractor the benefit of the doubt on construction traffic issues at the expense of the neighborhood.
Moreover, neighbors worry that if the heavily negotiated CMA is not getting due diligence, whether there is a chance that one of the chief community benefits the developer has pledged might be at risk. (In return for zoning changes to allow greater height and density than city regs would otherwise allow, the developer agreed to provide certain benefits and amenities to the community as compensation, those having been detailed in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).) Both the CMA and the MOA were included in the zoning order by the Zoning Commission as conditions of the zoning change.
Residents say that construction practices have deviated from the agreement in the following ways:
Staging – lining up – of trucks on 8th Street adjacent to the construction site, not only north of Pennsylvania Avenue, but north of the 8th and C Streets intersection. The staging has created a dangerous intersection at 8th and C Streets. Last week, CHC observed a construction truck which obscured the stop sign on 8th Street the north side of the C Street intersection, and watched as a light truck headed south blew through the stop and across the pedestrian walk without slowing down. No contractor flagman was present to direct traffic as required by the CMA.
Construction traffic on C and D Streets near the construction site.
Impeding access to the east-west alley between 7th and 8th Streets, on the north side of the site.
Working past 7:00pm and receiving deliveries before 7:00am.
Some of the concerns like blocking the alley and deliveries before 7:00am and working after 7:00pm, are specifically prohibited in the CMA, as well as a violation of city regulations. Others, such as construction traffic and staging are of equal concern and more irksome owing to what some residents see as the city’s participation in abetting the transgression. That abetting is made possible by a qualifier inserted into CMA language, i.e., “developers will make commercially reasonable efforts” to keep traffic and staging off streets in question.
With such an assertion, Clark applied for a staging permit for 8th Street – taking over 25 parking spaces – and was granted one by DDOT. The problem is, say residents, the contractor asserted that they needed 8th Street, but offered nothing to prove they looked at alternatives – raising the question of how meaningful an agreement is when compliance depends on a third party.
The permit granted by DDOT allows staging from 7:00am until 3:30pm, but residents say the contractor uses 8th Street for staging until 7:00pm.
Residents say it takes hours to get somebody from city agencies to respond to complaints and by the time an inspector does arrive, the issue is moot.
Regarding fears that flouting the CMA lays the ground work for disregarding the benefit provisions of the MOA there is the fact that the same qualifying language in the CMA which is causing grief on traffic and staging has been included in the MOA regarding one of the community’s major benefits.
As part of the zoning change process, SEB agreed to include in the Hine project no fewer than 2,400 square feet for a child development center serving no fewer than 24 0-3 year olds. But, the MOA contains a qualifier: “SEB will use commercially reasonable efforts to procure a suitable child care development center tenant. After six months of commercially reasonable marketing efforts marked from the point of substantial building completion, if such tenant is not procured, SEB may market the identified space for another use.”
*ANC6B, Eyes on Hine, Hine School North Neighbors, Eastern Market Metro Community Association, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee, and Market Row Business Community.