Minutes – ANC 4B - Special Public Meeting, Dec. 20, 2010

Adopted on January 24, 2011 In A Unanimous Show-Of-Hands Vote

 

The meeting began at about 7 pm at the MPD’s 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW, Chair Yvonne Jefferson (also ANC 4B08), presiding.

 

Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions

1.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sloan, a grant proposal from the Lamond Riggs Athletic Association was added to the agenda. 

 

2.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sydnor, the grant was placed first on the agenda.

 

3.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sloan, the Commission awarded the Lamond Riggs Athletic Association a $2,000 grant to cover part of the travel expenses for 24 sixth through ninth-grade students and their coaches on a trip to the AAU Tackle Football National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida from December 26 through December 31, 2010.

 

Association Leaders Darice Stevens, Toby Strong, and one other group official spoke and answered questions.  They said they learned only recently that they qualified for the tournament.  Only about half of the cost of the $14,000 trip has been raised so far, they said. 

 

The group’s written grant application asked for $1,000, but Commissioner Sloan asked that the amount be increased to $2,000 when he made the motion to fund the grant.  Commissioner Jefferson noted that the money must be returned if the group does not raise enough to go.  Commissioner Sloan accepted responsibility for this.

 

4.  In a 3-0-3 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, ANC 4B asked the Zoning Commission to hold a public hearing in the matter of Z.C. Case No. 10-20 (ANC 4B Map Amendment @ Square 2986, Lot 30), specifically, a request to change the site’s zoning from C-3-A and R-5 to C-1.

 

The adopted resolution:

“Resolved: That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B urges the Commission to set down our application for a formal public hearing so that the arguments presented in our resolution dated July 24, 2009 (copy attached) requesting a change of zoning for Square 2986, Lot 30 can be fully considered in a formal public process.  

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B notes that, according to provisions of the D.C. code that detail the role of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, ‘great weight’ is to be applied to our request for a change in zoning.  We argue that the Commission cannot accord ‘great weight’ to our application unless and until it has been subjected to the formal public hearing process.

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B thanks the Zoning Commission for its consideration in giving us the opportunity to comment on the Office of Planning report and for considering our application for a change in zoning.”

The vote followed a discussion with Commissioners and residents about the background of the case and the need for Zoning Commission action.                           

– continued --

Adopted Minutes – December 20, 2010 – Page 2

 

Commissioners Speaks, Wheeler and Jefferson explained that the case started in 2009 when 4B04 and 4B05 residents learned that developers had permits to build several hundred residential units and ground floor retail on the Curtis Chevrolet site (Peabody and Georgia).  These residents opposed apartments and asked ANC 4B to help. On July 27, 2009, ANC 4B voted to ask the Zoning Commission to change the zoning.

The Office of Zoning, with the support of the Office of Planning, determined that the request does not merit a hearing because the change contradicts the comprehensive plan, among other things, but it extended the deadline for ANC 4B comment to December 22, 2010.

Commissioner Sloan said the case is now irrelevant because the site is now slated for a Walmart, with no residential uses at all. Commissioner Speaks explained that residents still want the zoning change. Also, the Curtis lot is too small to interfere with the comprehensive plan, she said. Wanda Oates, of 4B05, supported Commissioner Speaks. 4B Resident Edna Doggett said ANC 4B’s resolution deserves “great weight” from the Zoning Commission.

4B06 Resident Richard Layman, a planner, said that to get “great weight,” ANCs need to make certain their requests are possible under the law. The Comprehensive Plan is law, Layman explained.

5.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission established a Walmart Special Committee and agreed that the Committee will be chaired by the seated Commissioner from 4B04.

The vote followed a lengthy discussion with residents and presentations from Steve Morfin, of the Office of Planning, and Beth Pointer, of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Mr. Morfin explained how the Large Tract Review process will apply when Walmart and/or the property’s owner submits a site plan for the project. Many DC government agencies, including WASA and the Department of Transportation, can submit comments, along with ANCs. ANCs and city agencies have 30 days from the submission date to comment unless the applicant agrees to an extension, he said.

In response to residents’ questions, Mr. Morfin noted that all property owners within 200 feet of  the site will be notified of the proposal and that a traffic study will be part of the initial submission. However, an environmental study is not part of the submission, per se, although the regulations require information about the project’s environmental impact.

Mr. Layman said key data from the site’s 2009 Large Tract Review cannot be found on the DDoT web site. Commissioner Wheeler said that if ANCs are expected to make recommendations, they need all of the data.

Ms. Pointer said that Walmart did not live up to its commitments on hiring, security and community benefits in other cities. She also said she does not think there is anything the community can do to stop the store.  The focus should be on writing a good agreement.  The web site CommunityBenefits.org has agreements from other cities, she said.

Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser said agreement topics should include architecture, transportation, training, unions, wages, small business impacts, and community benefits. Walmart may get a beer and wine license, she added.                          

 – -continued—

 

Adopted Minutes – December 20, 2010, Page 3

 

Among those speaking generally in support of Walmart were Dan Shulman, of 9th St., NW, Michael Sindram, of 4B02, Elena Tierney, of Madison St., NW, Audrey Chumbis, of Ward 4, and ANC 4A Chair Stephen Whatley. Their comments included statements that they do not want to leave D.C. to buy what Walmart sells, that competition with Safeway, CVS and others is a good thing, that sales tax revenue and jobs should stay in D.C., that many small businesses are discouraged from locating here, that Georgia Avenue needs to be revived, that the damage to the community will be greater if the site remains vacant, and that the community’s focus should be on a cooperative agreement with Walmart.

Among those speaking generally in opposition were Baruti Jahi, of Shepherd Park, LaDora Brock and William Washington, both of the Florian Gardens Cooperative, which borders the site, Betty Florence, of 4B04, Joe Moore, of 2nd and Oglethorpe Sts., NW, Wanda Oates, of 4B05, Rebecca Mills, Edna Doggett and Perry Redd, of 4B, and T.A. Uqdah and Renee Bowser, both of Ward 4. Their comments included suggestions that the city should work to attract other stores to the site, that it is false to say that the community has a choice of Walmart or nothing, that the sales tax revenue and new jobs Walmart promises are not worth the excessive traffic and the quality-of-life problems Walmart will bring, that Walmart will reduce property values, and that there will be other Walmarts in nearby D.C. neighborhoods to serve Ward 4 shoppers.

Mr. Uqdah said he wants to put an entertainment complex on the site.  Ms. Bowser was one of several speakers who said a strong written agreement with Walmart is needed.

Willie Baker, of Missouri Ave., NW, said he believes that most residents want the site developed, but also want to be sure that good traffic and environmental standards are ensured.

Commissioner Speaks said the residents of 4B04 and 4B05 oppose Walmart.  Water quality has deteriorated over the years and it is an issue with this project, she said. Commissioner Wheeler said she has heard that residents are very concerned about Walmart’s impact on small businesses and the negative aspects of its corporate culture.

Commissioner Green said 4B’s Walmart Committee needs volunteers with technical abilities, including architects, engineers, and those who can analyze traffic data and help draft agreements on the community’s behalf.

The meeting adjourned just after 10 p.m.

 

n       -- Submitted By Sara Green, Secretary