Confused About the proposed Helipad on Water Street? Here’s the Latest.
By Larry Janezich
Posted October 12, 2020
Considerable uncertainty has accompanied a proposal by Congressional Aviation to relocate their helipad and fueling station to Water Street, SE, near the huge mixed use project at 1333 M Street and the Washington Boatyard.
ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee heard from Congressional Aviation’s owner last Tuesday night in an effort to bring some clarity to the matter.
Geoff Rankin is the owner of Congressional Aviation. His lease on the ground down river where he currently has a helipad for helicopters used by MPD and area hospitals is expiring and is not going to be renewed. He’s looking for a new site and after considering several other locations which proved to be unfeasible is eying a space on the Anacostia River near 1333 M Street, SE.
Rankin says his company provides an essential service in terms of public safety and unless he can begin construction soon, he thinks it will “go away”. Neighbors and ANC6B acknowledge that, but don’t want the helipad located there, citing noise concerns. Representatives from 1333 M Street project have not yet weighed in, and Rankin says that at the moment, there are no city agencies that support his proposed use of the site for a helipad. City officials say there are no current plans to support a helipad for the site.
Commissioners had harsh words for the Mayor saying that Mayor Bowser needs to show some leadership on this and to figure out where the facility needs to go, without making this corner of the city a “dumping ground.”
In July, ANC6B supported filing a map amendment to zone the site that Rankin is looking at, limiting its use to open space, park, and low density riverfront-oriented retail. On Tuesday the Committee recommended that the full ANC to proceed with the filing and the Commission is expected to approve that recommendation at its October meeting Tuesday night. Planning and Zoning Committee chair Corey Holman said that the filing will result in a Zoning Commission Review which should result in a hearing and a decision from the Commission on the rezoning proposal. Currently the land is un-zoned and subject to development and use by an executive order of the Mayor.