Minutes - July 10, 2008 Special Public Meeting

Adopted on August 14, 2008

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B


The meeting began at about 7 p.m. at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE, Chair Douglass Sloan (4B09), presiding.  Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Frederick Grant, 4B07 Judi Jones, and 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson.  A quorum was present for all votes.



1. The agenda, as amended, was adopted in a unanimous show-of-hands vote. The friendly amendment to the agenda limited the discussion on the Upper Georgia Avenue Master Plan to a discussion of the fire station only.


2.  In a 1-4-1 show-of-hands vote following a motion by Commissioner Jones, the Commission did not agree to amend the agenda to take the West Group off the agenda unless another commissioner offered more specific information


3.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion by Commissioner Green, the Commission agreed to revise its May 22, 2008 adopted resolution on the Draft Upper Georgia Avenue Master Plan.


On Page Two, Item Number 4, the revised recommendation asks that:

"The city should follow the D.C. Department of Fire and Rescue Service's recommendation to build the new Engine Number 22 Fire Station at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Aspen Street, NW.  More effort needs to be made to mitigate the negative impact of a new fire station on those who live near Aspen and Georgia Avenues, NW."


Commissioner Wheeler said that some of her constituents who live close to the proposed Georgia and Aspen site have expressed strong opposition to the Aspen and Georgia location because of noise and the physical damage to residents due to noise. She pointed out that her constituents already experience the noise from low-flying military helicopters that fly over her entire SMD before landing at Walter Reed.


The Commission voted after a detailed presentation by D.C. Department of Fire and Rescue Services Chief Dennis Rubin and his staff.  The presentation was followed by a question and answer period and comments from the community.


Chief Rubin said that the Aspen and Georgia corner site is the best and is needed so that Engine Number 22 can move from its late 19th Century building to a site where it can serve most of upper Ward 4 with 4-6 minute response times.  Longer response times threaten lives, he said.


Sites that were examined and rejected include Georgia and Fern, Georgia and Underwood, Piney Branch and Tuckerman and others.  The corner site is better than using the existing Walter Reed fire station, located about 100 feet down Aspen, he added.                                                                                                


He said the community would be asked for significant input on the exterior design of the new station.  He also said that noise is an issue and the department is working on ways to mitigate it.


ANC 4A03 Commissioner Steve Whatley's Single Member District includes the corner of Aspen and Georgia.  Commissioner Whatley said that his constituents from north of Walter Reed rejected the corner of Fern and Georgia because the helicopter pad and the amputee center are already near there.  He said they support the Aspen and Georgia corner site.  The corner of Fern and Georgia, for example, was considered, but rejected because a helicopter pad and a hospital building are already located there.


Other residents who spoke included Marlena Edwards, who opposed both the Georgia Avenue sites, Regina Page, of Eastern Avenue, NW, and Andre Carley, of 9th Street, NW.  Ms. Page said she is would like to see a new station built to serve this part of Ward 4. Mr. Carley, the Vice President of Concerned Neighbors, Inc. (CNI), a community group with members who live near Walter Reed, said CNI voted to support the Georgia and Aspen Street corner site.


4.  In a 4-1-1 roll-call vote following a motion made by Commissioner Jefferson, which included friendly amendments made by other commissioners, the Commission modified its June 26 resolution on the West Group's Planned Unit Development (PUD) extension request.


The roll-call vote followed a 4-2-0 show-of-hands vote on a motion made by Commissioner Green to stop the discussion.


The Commission agreed to send the following resolution to the Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia:


"The Commissioners of Advisory Commission 4B ask the Zoning Commission to hold a special hearing on the West Group's request to extend the amount of time it has to build its Planned Unit Development project at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue, NE.  ANC 4B needs this time to confer with its constituents regarding the existence of pending litigation and the West Group's inability to obtain sufficient project financing because of changes in economic market conditions."


Voting "yes" on this resolution were Commissioners Green, Grant, Jones, and Jefferson.  Commissioner Sloan voted "no."  Commissioner Wheeler abstained.


The vote followed a lengthy discussion. 


Commissioner Sloan read the Zoning Commission's rules for granting extensions on PUDs, noting that the developer only has to show that he has met one of several criteria.  The West Group has met two -- pending litigation and a problem obtaining financing due to changes in economic market conditions.  He said he was told that there has never been a case where a hearing has been granted under such conditions.


Commissioner Jones questioned why the Commission was voting on the issue if   it could not oppose the extension. 


Commissioner Jefferson said she did not want ANC 4B to be silenced by the Zoning Commission and does not agree with its criteria for granting extensions. Many D.C. residents can't pay their mortgages but don't get help or more time to obtain financing, she added.  She also said that groups in her community did not have adequate time to discuss this issue.


The meeting ended at about 9 p.m.


-- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary