Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B - October 24, 2011 Public Meeting

Adopted in a unanimous show-of-hand vote on November 28, 2011

 

The meeting began at about 7 pm at the MPD’s 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW, Chair Yvonne (also 4B08) Jefferson presiding.  Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Fred Grant, 4B04 Douglas Smith, 4B05 Brenda Speaks and 4B07 Judi Jones. A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions

1.  In a 5-1-1 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted the agenda, with one change.  The 4EverEmery agenda item was moved up to second.  

 

2.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted a resolution with respect to a proposed 140-unit apartment project on 7051 Spring Place, NW. (HPA #11-518)

 

The adopted resolution:

“WHEREAS, ANC 4B supports the goal of providing attractive multi-family and affordable housing on Spring Place, NW that is also compatible architecturally with the adjacent historic homes on Chestnut Street and provides adequate transitions and buffers to homes;

 

Whereas, a compatible and sensitive design is essential for the protection of the adjacent Chestnut Street Victorian homes which are contributing resources in the Takoma Park Historic District, and Chestnut Street includes some of the oldest homes in the District;

 

Whereas, the revisions to the original proposal were not shared with the community or the adjacent and most affected residents until five days before ANC 4B’s recommendation vote, and it is clear that more revisions are necessary before submittal to HPRB; 

 

Whereas, the developers agreed to provide a balloon study to show the visual impact of proposed building heights on the adjacent historic homes but has not yet had time to do so.

 

Whereas, we understand that HPRB does not consider traffic issues in its decision-making, but a traffic study is underway, but not completed, and its results may affect the project’s design.  We note that many residents, the most affected property owners, and two independent, local and well-qualified architects,  David Hamilton and James Russell (CV and statements attached), state there are significant traffic concerns.

 

Whereas, it is the opinion of Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Russell and other residents and adjacent property owners that the proposed design should be revised to be compatible with the predominant architectural character of Takoma’s historic and recently built single-family and multi-family homes such as the Gables Apartments and the Watkins Apartments and the Watkins addition;

 

And whereas Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Russell note that appropriate designs should include brick and stone, particularly along Spring Street and along all adjacent neighboring properties, at the request of Ms. Sherry Harrod and other adjacent property owners, that the windows and other elements should include distinctive features to add character and detail to the façade.  And whereas Mr. Hamilton states that the more visually successful of those projects utilized red or reddish brown brick.

 

Whereas, ANC 4B strongly believes that affordable multi-family housing can and should provide gradual transitions and adequate screening; that it can and should provide quality materials and workmanship; that other nearby affordable projects -- such as the brick and siding senior citizens’

 Adopted Minutes – ANC 4B – Page 2 - October 24, 2011

 

 

apartments on North Capitol Street and Riggs Road, built by Plymouth Congregational Church -- are an excellent example of a handsome and high-quality affordable housing project that blends with the community;

 

Whereas, the proposed Spring Place design should provide the “gradual transitions” in scale and height between the proposed 80-unit multi-family Phase II building and the adjacent historic single-family homes (contributing resources) on Chestnut Street, as per Policy UD-2.2.4, in the Comprehensive Plan For The National Capital;

 

And whereas, Dreck Wilson, a landscape architect and a neighbor (statement attached), and others have concerns about the effectiveness of the landscaping plan and the screening proposed for the rear yards of the Chestnut Street homes, and there are concerns that some of the significant and mature trees on the developers’ property may not be preserved;

 

If the developer is making revisions we thank him for doing so.  However, the community and the most affected property owners need time to review revisions and the balloon and traffic studies.  Therefore, because of the significant changes that are needed, we ask that HPRB hear the case again and not turn it over to staff, giving ANC 4B adequate opportunity to review and comment. 

 

If this is not possible, we ask that HPRB not approve the proposal at this time.

 

The recommendations in this resolution are made pursuant to DC Code 1-309.10(a), 1-309.10(d)(3)(A) and 1-309.10(d)(3)(B), which require, among other things, that ANC recommendations regarding a proposed District government action or actions receive “great weight’ from the DC government, and that DC government officials respond in writing.

 

We designate Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sara Green to present these recommendations to government agencies and panels.”

 

The vote followed a presentation and a discussion. Commissioner Green submitted written statements from Landscape Architect Dreck Wilson and Architects David Hamilton and James Russell along with letters and emails both in support and in opposition to the proposal.

 

Developers Bruce Levin and Donald Tucker said that the 140-unit project, divided into two buildings, would include units with both affordable ($40 – $60,000/yr income) and market-rate rents.  The material, primarily Hardie Plank, a concrete product, is similar to materials present in the neighborhood, Mr. Tucker said. He noted that the building drops down to three-stories as it meets the backyards of the homes on Chestnut Street.  The developers also increased the amount of green space between the project’s parking lot and the Chestnut Street backyards.

 

Sherry Harrod, of 7131 Chestnut Street, said that the project is only 17-feet from her backyard, that the design should look much more like the Gables Apartments, a brick building across Spring Street from the proposed project.  Oscar Beisert, an architectural historian, said the proposed design is not compatible with Takoma’s predominant southern small town-oriented architecture.

 

Mr. Wilson, a landscape architect who lives on Dahlia Street, NW, said the landscaping plan is inadequate.

 

Lorraine Pearsall, of Historic Takoma, Inc., said that the current design is not compatible with the surrounding historic district and that the developers’ models and drawings don’t show necessary details.

 

Ann Zabaldo, of 4th Street, NW, a consultant to the developers, said the car uses now on the site should be replaced, more affordable housing is needed, and additional residents will help support the nearby stores. 

 

Commissioner Jones said she is concerned about the size of the project and that its only entrance and exit are Spring Place. Commissioner Grant said he is also concerned about traffic.  Commissioner Wheeler said she is concerned about preserving trees on the site and supports reducing the number of parking spaces.  She said the design is  not compatible with the neighborhood.

 

4.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Smith, the Commission adopted a resolution with respect to the car barn on the Curtis Chevrolet site.

 

The adopted resolution:

“That ANC 4B supports the request of the Brightwood Historic Preservation Association that the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) defer consideration of its application to designate the car barn at 5917-5929 George Avenue, NW as a historic landmark for one month to give the Association sufficient time to prepare its presentation in support of its application.”

 

The vote followed a presentation and a discussion. Architectural Historian Oscar Beisert noted that the State Historic Preservation Office staff report recommended that the site not be designated due to the damage from previous uses and the fact that important elements of the building have been removed or modified. However, the building is a good one for adaptive reuse and is a local historic resource that should be preserved, he said.

 

Jahi Baruti, of the Brightwood Historic Preservation Association, also a Shepherd Park resident, said HPRB may not support a delay.

 

Michael Sindram, of 4B02, said the designation should not be supported because its purpose is to stop Walmart from opening.

 

5.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Jefferson, the Commission adopted a resolution with respect to The Lounge Uptown LLC, 116 Kennedy Street, NW.

 

The adopted resolution:

“That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the application of The Lounge Uptown LLC, ABRA-088077 for a  stipulated Retail Class C Nightclub license for the restaurant located at 116 Kennedy Street, NW and urges that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to approve this application.”

 

The vote followed a discussion. Business Owners Tequila Williams and Nicholas Gabbidon

said the Lounge will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, even though the city’s nightclub license does not require this. They submitted nine letters of support from area residents and businesses and a petition signed by more than 100 people and businesses in support of the license.

 

Marsha Brown, of Emery Beacon of Light, an area business group, spoke in support of the license. Commissioners Grant, Speaks, and Jefferson also spoke in support, noting that they had visited the business and appreciated the Lounge’s renovations.

 

6.  In a 5-0-2 roll call vote following a motion from Commissioner Grant, the Commission adopted a resolution with respect to Food Barn, 6205 Georgia Avenue, NW.

 

Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Smith and Jefferson voted “yes.”  Commissioners Speaks and Jones abstained.

 

The adopted resolution:

“Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the application of the Georgia Avenue Food Barn (License #ABRA-071950) to renew their retail Class B liquor license.”

 

Commissioner Grant said that he received no complaints about the business.

 

7.  In a 5-2-0 show-of-hand vote following a motion from Commissioner Grant, the Commission adopted a resolution in support of Safeway’s Retail Class B Beer and Wine license.

 

The adopted resolution:

“Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the renewal application of the Safeway Store, 6500 Piney Branch Road, NW, (License #ABRA-077988) for a retail Class B Beer and Wine license.”

 

The vote followed a discussion. Betty Florence, of 4B04, said Safeway should not be permitted to sell beer and wine until problems are fixed.  She said store personnel do not permit customers to contact the corporate office, that Safeway has a different set of rules at its Bethesda store, does not adequately clean customer bathrooms, and does not honor advertised sale prices.

 

Commissioner Grant said he recently met with Safeway officials and they are working to resolve the problems. Safeway is adding more bathrooms. He said he will work with Safeway and Ms. Florence to address issues. He also said he has heard no complaints from other residents.

 

Commissioner Jones said the Commission should ask for a voluntary agreement. Commissioner Grant said the community asked for a voluntary agreement several years ago, but Safeway would not agree to all of the requests, including the installation of additional trash cans. 

 

8.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Smith (also ANC 4B’s Treasurer), the Commission approved a resolution with respect to its budget.

 

The adopted resolution:

“That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B approves and authorizes the continuation of operating expenditures as specified in the FY 2011 budget to November 28, 2011, at which time the FY 2012 budget will be considered for approval.”

 

9.  In a unanimous roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Grant, the Commission adopted the July 25, September 14, and September 26 minutes.  Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Smith, and Jefferson voted “yes.”

 

10.  Following a motion from Commissioner Smith and a unanimous show-of-hands vote, the Commission adjourned at about 10:24 pm.

 

Community Concerns and Announcements

1.  Marsha Brown invited the community to a Halloween party in the 5500 Block of Illinois Ave., NW.

 

2.  Frank Fountain, of 4B04, asked for an ANC 4B resolution to condemn Walmart.

 

3.  Walter Mallete, of 4B04, said he agrees with Mr. Fountain.

 

4.  Jerome Parson, of 4B07, who is blind, asked for phone calls notifying him about upcoming 4B07 Single Member District Meetings and ANC 4B meetings.

 

5.  Edna Doggett, of 4B04, said she is concerned about Walmart and wants ANC 4B to support the community’s views.

 

6.  John Stewart said he is opposed to Walmart.

 

7.  Baruti Jahi, of Shepherd Park, said the process for approving the Walmart is flawed and asked that the community come to the November 17 HPRB hearing on designating the site as a historic landmark.

 

Reports and Presentations

1.  A representative of 4EverEmery thanked the Commission for their grant and submitted copies of receipts and a written report.  The money was used for a tent that sheltered about 500 senior citizens from the rain during an August 13 picnic.

 

2.  Pepco representatives discussed Pepco’s Smart Meter Program and answered questions.

 

3.  Commissioner Speaks said she wanted to postpone a report and vote about cell phones until the November public meeting.

 

4.   Treasurer Smith reported that as of September 30, 2011, the Industrial Bank checking account balance was $19,304.76.  It was $23,594.73 as of August 31, 2011. Expenditures from September 1 through September 30, 2011 were $4,289.97.  The Industrial Bank savings account balance as of September 30, 2011 was $50,446.29.

 

 

--- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary