ANC 6B March Committee Votes

A full agenda for both Planning and Zoning and Transportation

Planning and Zoning

124 11th ST SE (BZA 19976, HPA 19-137), 1639 Potomac Ave SE (BZA 19948), 522 6th St SE (HPA 19-189), 1225-1227 Pennsylvania Ave SE (BZA 19957)
These were relatively uncontroversial plans that passed through committee unanimously and onto consent at the full ANC.

124 11th St SE BZA Files
124 11th St SE HPRB Files
1639 Potomac Ave SE BZA Files
522 6th St SE HPRB Files
1225-1227 Pennsylvania Ave SE BZA Files

360 7th St SE (Public Space #107125654)

This is the sidewalk occupancy for The Eastern Wine Bar. It complies with all the regulations and the owner agreed to widen the clearance between the tree boxes and fence from the minimum six feet to eight feet. This application passed the committee unanimously and was placed on consent for the full ANC.

620 C Street SE (HPA 19-222)

This is a complicated application that I ran right into a Robert’s Rule cluster of motions and amendments. In the end, I voted in support of the motion to support the first floor fenestration changes and voted against the motion to take no position on the visible third floor.

The building, an original one-story blacksmith shop from 1882, is currently being used as an office. The applicant presented evidence that the first-floor exterior is far from the original layout and the design is restorative in nature. A motion to support these first-floor changes passed 10-1-1 and I wholeheartedly support those changes.

The third-floor mansard, on the other hand, is more controversial. In committee, I opposed this addition. However, after reconsidering everything, I think a visible mansard rooftop addition is compatible with preservation law and the addition is compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District. It’s a huge ask, but here’s how I got there:

1) This house is adjacent to a commercial area, next to some surface parking lots, and the rear of opposing houses. To quote the preservation regulations, “Pertinent considerations about the relationship of a project to a historic district include its compatibility with its immediate context and not merely its consistency with conditions found elsewhere in the historic district. “ (10A DCMR 2001(c)). The immediate context here is a one-off commercial building breaking up two identical rows of houses across the street from a surface parking lot and adjacent to the brutalist Rumsey Pool.

2) Commercial buildings in a residential zone play a unique role in the Capitol Hill Historic District, but at the same time they are apart from purpose-built residential rows. Their design is often utilitarian and most are not in their original state. This building was originally a one-story commercial building and a second floor was added. At first glance this building seems to be a materially intact, it exhibits a fair amount of change. Regulations state “Pertinent considerations about the historic property include its relative importance, nature of significance, condition, and degree of material integrity.”

Stepping back from the regulations, the adopted law says the intent of preservation is “To retain and enhance those properties which contribute to the character of the historic district and to encourage their adaptation for current use;“ and “To assure that alterations of existing structures are compatible with the character of the historic district” (DC Code 6-1101 2(a)).

To that end, I will make (or support) a motion to support the third floor addition.

209 C St SE

The applicants in this case filled in a side yard and added a rear addition four or so years ago. They’ve returned to make changes to the areaway to add a basement entrance as well as redo the entry stairs to create a safe set of stairs and add a larger landing at the door. The committee voted unanimously to support this application.

While we recognize the process wasn’t great and (shock of shocks) DDOT issued permits it wasn’t supposed to, the actual plans for the area way are consistent with the intent of preservation law and in character with the Historic District. The exterior had been redone and regraded many times. The house is not in a continuous row of similar retaining walls at the sidewalk and is next to a non-contributing apartment building. Again, context and integrity (and safety related to aging in place) lead me to support this even though the areaway changes do not strictly conform to design guidelines

Transportation Committee

DDOT NOT 19-001 (700 Block of D Street changes, to support Circulator Turnaround)

This Notice of Intent is to allow the new L’Enfant Plaza-Eastern Market Circulator to turn around without dead-heading to 4th Street. While this design looks good on paper, there is one fatal flaw and I will support any ANC resolution to oppose this change.

Buses are at their most dangerous when they’re turning. And while this change will reduce the number of left turns by one, it does this by remove two signalized left turns into one unsignalized, unprotected left turn right next to a metro station and a heavily trafficked cross walk. There is no way I will support a design that adds an unprotected left to a bus route.

Now, technically, this NOI is only for the road changes. I’m fairly agnostic on those. I find the discussion about relieving congestion on 8th street to be a classic failure of DDOT’s engineers looking at level of service for people driving cars, not people walking or cycling. In many ways, a heavily congested 8th street is a feature. I don’t want cars to be able to quickly get to speed with so many pedestrians and cyclists using the street. But, that being said, I’m not sure changing the 700 block of D Street will have that much of an impact on either 8th street congestion or adding cars to the neighborhood.

The committee took no position on this and will have DDOT back next month to continue this discussion.

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