Rezoning Maritime Plaza, 1333 M St SE, and District-Controlled Reservations

The triangle formed by 12th St SE, Southeast Boulevard, and Water Street SE is currently zoned high intensity industrial uses. At ANC 6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 3, I will propose to rezone this land to medium density commercial zoning, to preclude any future industrial uses on this land.

Current Use and Zoning

Before delving into the history of this site and the process for rezoning, let’s take a look at the current state. There are three properties owners and one long-term ground lease holder.

Source: Google Maps 3D View, annotated by me.
  • The red parcels are owned by Washington Gas. After decades of remediation after life a coal-fired natural gas plant, Washington Gas entered into a ground lease with a series of entities to develop what is now known as Maritime Plaza, two office buildings. The current lease holder, which has about 85 years to run, is Corporate Office Properties Trust.
  • The purple land is owned by a LLC controlled by Crescent Heights, a large developer, with an approved Planned Unit Development for 673 apartments and a fair amount of public space improvements. This PUD has already filed for a time extension and likely will not be moving forward until Southeast Boulevard development and connection across the CSX tracks proceed.
  • The green parcels were historic National Park Service land. The sites were transferred to the District on November 7, 2008

The subject properties are all zoned PDR-4, the highest intensity industrial zoning possible. From the DC Zoning Handbook:

The PDR-4 zone is intended to permit high-density commercial and PDR activities employing a large workforce and requiring some heavy machinery under controls that minimize any adverse impacts on adjacent, more restrictive zones and minimize non-industrial uses.

http://handbook.dcoz.dc.gov/zones/production-distribution-and-repair/pdr-4/

The Rezoning Process

Historically, most rezoning took place as part of a specific zoning process called a consolidated planned unit development (PUD). However, because of recent legal issues, the PUD has fallen out of favor and there have been a number of simple rezoning cases lately. This is good for someone like the ANC, who really doesn’t have the capability or time to create new processes.

The rezoning process requires a series of steps, detailed later, and a legal justification for this changed based on the Comprehensive Plan for the District of Columbia. We will first focus on this.

Future Land Use Map

The Future Land Use Map (FLUM) designates areas into broad categories of where use of land should go in the future. For example, much of Capitol Hill is designated Moderate Density Residential, which is the category for attached rowhouses and small apartment buildings. In the case of the land at issue, the entire triangle is designated as both of medium density commercial and institutional.

Medium Density Commercial: Defines shopping and service areas that are somewhat more intense in scale and character than the moderate-density commercial areas. Retail, office and service businesses are the predominate uses. Areas generally draw from a citywide market area. Buildings are generally larger and/or taller than those in moderate density commercial areas but generally do not exceed eight stories in height.

Institutional: Includes land and facilities occupied and used by college and universities, large private schools, hospitals, religious organizations, and similar institutions

https://planning.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/op/publication/attachments/03%20RedevelopmentFramework_Part1_Part2.pdf

I mentioned earlier the FLUM designated broad categories of use. The comprehensive plan gives examples zoning for each FLUM category. Medium Density Commercial is defined as “generally do not exceed eight stories” and “generally include C-2-B [ZR16 MU-5-A], C-2-C [MU-6], C-3-A [MU-7], and C-3-B [MU-8]. These are commercially zoned mixed use districts with both development standards and use regulations that would preclude uses currently allowed in PDR zones. The current zoning of this triangles is inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map.

Generalized Policy Map

The triangle is question is designated as Land Use Change Areas in the Generalized Policy Map (GPM). Then GPM designates land into various buckets, but the land use change areas are lands where rezoning should take place. Rezoning this triangle is consistent with the Generalized Policy Map

Non-Map Elements of Comprehensive Plan

In addition to the maps above, which are likely sufficient for the rezoning to be approved, there are other elements in the comprehensive plan that further give weight to approving this application. The formal applicaiton will details these elements (it’s a lot of work), but they boil down to efficient land use, improving access to the waterfront, revitalizing neighborhood, balancing growth, and lots of other portions.

The Rezoning Process

First and foremost, let’s recognize that ANC is exempt from filing and hearing fees related to rezoning. Without this, I would not encourage the ANC to take on this effort. A private owner would have to pay a $325 filing fee plus around $75,000-$150,000 in hearing fees. (11 DCMR Table Z ยง 1601) depending on the final zone.

The map amendment process goes somewhat like this:

  1. Distribute a Notice of Intent to File to all affected property owners and the affected ANC 45 days before filing a map amendment. ANC 6D in this case would likely also have to be noticed
  2. The applicant must attend a duly notice meeting of the affected ANC in the 45-day period. Again, in this case ANC 6D would likely be considered an affected ANC but 6B, of course, would be taking the lead on this and discussing at their meetings
  3. A complete application including the following:
    1. A completed application form
    2. A certified plat of the subject property prepared by the Office of the Surveyor
    3. A map showing the location of all properties, existing zoning, and proposed zones
    4. A description on the amendments consistency with the Comp Plan
    5. A statement of outreach to the community, OP, and the ANC.
    6. The name and addresses of all owners within 200 feet of the subject properties.

So after the 45 days notice period, the ANC can file this application. Within 5 days, the office of zoning will review for completeness.

ANC 6B Should File a Map Amendment to Rezone This Land

Given the consistency with the Comprehensive plan as well as preventing future adverse industrial uses, I will encourage ANC 6B to move forward with rezoning this land at this month’s meeting. I will take feedback from commissioners and committee members to the final zone, but I want to stress this is less about adding density and more changing by-right use permissions.

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