Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B – November 28, 2011 Public Meeting

Adopted in a unanimous show-of-hands vote on February 6, 2012

 

The meeting started at about 7 pm, Yvonne Jefferson, Chair (and ANC 4B08) presiding.  It was held at the MPD’s 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW. 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)  The agenda was adopted in a 5-0-1 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green.

 

2)  In a 6-0-0 roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted design recommendations to the Historic Preservation Review Board on a proposal to build apartments on Spring Place, NW.  Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Smith, Speaks and Jefferson voted “yes.”

 

“Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (hereby referred to as “the Commission”) supports redeveloping Spring Place and providing attractive, high-quality, multi-family, affordable and mixed-income housing on Spring Place and elsewhere in our community.

 

The Commission thanks Developers Bruce Levin and Donald Tucker for stepping back portions of the proposed building closest to the historic Chestnut Street homes in the Takoma Park Historic District, for increasing the buffer between the new building and the historic homes, and for meeting with the community.

 

However, the homes along Chestnut Street are significant contributing resources in the Takoma Park Historic District and Chestnut Street includes some of the oldest homes in the historic district. Therefore, it is essential that new development be architecturally compatible and sensitive to Chestnut Street,

 

To ensure that the proposed new development is architecturally compatible with the significant contributing resources along Chestnut Street, we ask for additional design modifications, using the Gables Apartments on 7035 Blair Road, NW as an example of compatible and high-quality new development as well as the historic Watkins Apartments on Cedar Street as a key historic apartment building.

 

Design Recommendations

 

*  Eliminate the balconies that overlook the rear of the homes on Chestnut Street, providing more privacy for Chestnut Street residents, investigate other ways to provide privacy for Chestnut Street residents.  We note the developers have agreed to put frosted glass on the Chestnut Street side [of the project] for privacy for Chestnut Street residents.

 

*  Require more attractive and compatible architectural details. The sliding windows create a motel-like appearance and should be replaced with a window treatment that is more compatible with the surrounding historic architecture.  This particular design element as well as others contribute to the proposal’s overall motel-like appearance.

 

*  Pay particular attention to incorporating high-quality materials throughout the building.

Avoid large sections of Hardie Plank, explore alternative materials and add more compatible and high-quality architectural details as seen on the Gables Apartments and the historic Watkins Apartments. This building will be a permanent fixture and the brick veneer on a recently constructed building in the historic district is already experiencing deterioration issues.

 

*  Increase the size of the landscaped buffer between the new project and the rear yards of the historic Chestnut Street homes. A brick wall, not a wood fence, should separate the new project from the historic homes.

 

We also ask that HPRB investigate how the slanted WMATA/CSX retaining wall, when combined with the rear wall of the proposed new building, impacts 7131 Chestnut Street, NW, paying close attention to changes in light and air,

 

Traffic

 

We understand that HPRB does not consider traffic issues.  However, a transportation impact assessment should be included as an element of the overall proposal because the assessment’s results may require changes in the building’s design due to their impact on a heavily congested section of Blair Road, which is interrelated with the overall quality of life as it impacts pedestrian and vehicular movement patterns.

 

Community Review

 

We respectfully ask that HPRB

 

*  bring the revised proposal back to the Board for review so the public and ANC 4B can comment and not delegate to staff at this time

 

* require that HPRB staff consult with ANC 4B and affected property owners before approving any modifications to the design or materials,

 

* require that HPRB staff review the permits and final construction plans for conformance to the approved design and materials,

 

Great Weight

 

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 4B01 Sara Green to represent this resolution to government agencies and panels.”

The vote followed a presentation from Developers Donald Tucker and Bruce Levin and comments from residents.

 

Mr. Tucker said there are changes from an earlier proposal, including those suggested by residents and other architects. Among them: balconies are widened; forty percent of the units will have affordable rents; the buildings are pushed back to 25 feet from the back yard of 7131 Chestnut Street to save a large tree; and brick is added to the first floor façade.

 

Commissioner Grant said he wants to hear from the DC government about traffic at the Chestnut and Blair intersection.  Commissioners Speaks and Wheeler said they did not like the design and think it is not appropriate in the Takoma Historic District.

 

Approximately ten area residents spoke. Resident Sherry Harrod, who lives behind the project on Chestnut Street, opposes the design because it boxes in her house and does not blend with the neighborhood.  John Plunkett, also of Chestnut Street, likes the design, and noted that the area is blighted.  Lorraine Pearsall, of Historic Takoma, Inc., said some good changes were made, but the design needs improvement.  Roz Grigsby, of the Old Takoma Business Association, spoke in support. She also said her group does not comment on design.  Letters of support and opposition were distributed.

 

3)  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted a resolution with recommendations to the Department of the Army with respect to the historic sites at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center that are slated for future transfer to the District of Columbia.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) thanks the Department of the Army for its considerable efforts to identify, document, preserve and maintain the historic properties on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus.

 

ANC 4B makes the following recommendations to the draft Programmatic Agreement:

 

1.  Maintenance staff management should provide written quarterly reports, available to the public, on the condition of the historic properties.  Maintenance staff management should also meet with the staff of the State Historic Preservation Office on a quarterly basis to ensure that all properties are in good, secure and weather-tight condition. (Section I – Lines 97 through 118 of the draft agreement)

 

2.  The Department of the Army should hold at least one joint town hall public meeting with the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority to explain its historic preservation proposals. (Section IV ).

 

3.  The possible adverse effects of any redevelopment plan are a major concern.  If any of the proposed mitigation measures are determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer to be ineffective, the Department of the Army should reject those elements of a proposed redevelopment plan and request appropriate changes to be made in conformity with State Office of Historic Preservation criteria for the purpose of  presenting them again for approval. (Section IV)

 

4.   Within six months of the signing of the agreement, the Department of the Army should provide at least 200 large-format, archival quality photographs of the historic properties (as per Section VI, Lines 245-252).  These photographs should be produced according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Architectural and Engineering Documentation technical standards, specifically, the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and the Historic American Landscaping Survey (HALS) for storage by the US Library of Congress.  This ensures a good photographic record for future generations.

 

5.   The Department of the Army should provide Cultural Tourism DC or another appropriate agency or organization with adequate funding to produce interpretive signage along sidewalks on Georgia Avenue, 16th Street and other boundary streets and within the Walter Reed campus.  This signage should be similar to those now present on Georgia Avenue in Brightwood, DC and near Fort Stevens. (Section VII).

 

The vote followed a presentation from Department of the Army Representatives Anne Delp and Joseph Murphy and a discussion.

 

The Army is asking ANC 4B and 4A, and nearly other 20 groups, to comment as “concurring parties” on an agreement with the D.C. State Historic Preservation Officer that will specify which sites will be protected and how the preservation will be ensured.

 

Ms. Delp and Mr. Murphy said that many of ANC 4B’s recommendations were also noted by other concurring parties, including providing additional photographs and funding a Heritage Trail signage program on the site and on surrounding streets. 

 

Commissioner Wheeler asked if the historic single-family homes will be repaired instead of maintained in their current poor condition.  Mr. Murphy said that federal law prohibits improving property being transferred.   Suzanne Izzo, of Butternut Street, asked to keep the statue of Walter Reed on the grounds.  Mr. Murphy said it was moved to the new Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda.

 

4) In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission adopted a resolution asking the city to provide details about a proposal to pay a business to end its lease on a building that is part of the Walter Reed Campus.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

”WHEREAS, the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority Committee is developing a proposal for the re-use of 67.5 acres of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus;

WHEREAS, the entire 113-acre Walter Reed campus is still owned by the US Army;

WHEREAS, the Building 18 site is located within the ANC 4B Commission, at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Butternut Street, NW, and is included in the 67.5 acres which the DC Government proposes to acquire from the US Army; 

WHEREAS, the District of Columbia wants to move Engine 22 of its Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) out of its current, out-of-date site at Georgia and Missouri Avenues to a location further north to better serve the northern-most part of the city;

WHEREAS, through the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, the Building 18 site has been identified as an appropriate location for Engine 22 along with support offices;

WHEREAS, through the BRAC process, the City is slated to acquire the Building 18 site from the US Army at no cost as a “public use conveyance”;

WHEREAS, the City is negotiating with a South Carolina development company, Keenan Development Partners, LLC (Keenan), to arrange a transaction under which the US Army would lease the Building 18 site to Keenan, and Keenan – in turn – would lease the site to the District of Columbia for a sum of money, yet to be determined;

WHEREAS, the City’s rationale for considering this lease arrangement (Enhanced Use Lease) is that it would enable relocation of the FEMS facility to the Building 18 site sooner than would occur under the BRAC, which would result in a conveyance of the Building 18 site to the City at no cost;  

WHEREAS, the US Army currently is negotiating with the City to enable Engine 22 to move to the larger firehouse on the Walter Reed campus, which is located just west of the Building 18 site (west of Georgia Avenue and between Butternut and Aspen Streets, NW.), for the duration of the BRAC process and the subsequent development of the Building 128 site for the new FEMS facility; 

WHEREAS, the proposed interim use of the Walter Reed firehouse would meet the need for a northerly public safety facility and avoid the cost of acquiring the Building 18 site from a private interest; and

WHEREAS, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) questions the action of the City to negotiate the acquisition of the Building 18 site by means of an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B)  requests the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of the Attorney General to investigate the authority under District and Federal laws by which the Walter Reed Building 18 site may be acquired for development as an FEMS facility. The investigation should include an assessment of the relative costs and benefits, in terms of both time and money, associated with those actions, whether through: (1)  the BRAC process or (2) an EUL with a  third-party private entity. This analysis should include an evaluation of Enhanced Use Lease No. DACA-31-1-05-037 and any amendments thereto between the US Army and Keenan Development Partners; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Inspector General and the Attorney General are requested to report their findings to ANC 4B and the City Council prior to any final action by the City to acquire the Building 18 site by means of a lease with at a third party.”

The vote followed a presentation from Commissioner Wheeler and Joe Membrino, both members of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) Committee, a panel making recommendations on the reuse of the Walter Reed campus.

 

Mr. Membrino said that Keenan Development Partners, LLC state they leased both Building 18 from the Army prior to a decision to close Walter Reed and therefore will not end the lease without compensation.  However,  Mr. Membrino and Commissioner Wheeler are questioning whether Keenan’s claim on Building 18 is accurate.

 

Membrino and Wheeler said the Office of Planning explains that the city needs to pay to end the lease to expedite the building’s transfer to the city for use as a fire house. Commissioner Wheeler and Mr. Membrino said the city is slated to get Building 18 as part of the transfer of about 67 acres of land at Walter Reed and should not pay for Building 18 separately.  They also said that city officials have not answered their questions about the deal. 

 

Commissioner Speaks, also an LRA member, said she should have been informed about the issue.

 

A Butternut Street, NW resident said that Building 18 is not the best site for a firehouse and wants the decision reconsidered.

 

5) In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Grant, the Commission adopted the following motion with respect to the application of Yun Chan Kim, of Food Barn, 6205 Georgia Avenue, NW, for a substantial change to the store’s existing Class B beer and wine license.  (License No. ABRA-071950)

 

The adopted resolution:

“ANC 4B supports the application of Food Barn, 6205 Georgia Avenue, NW, for the issuance of a license for a Class A Liquor Store with Tasting Endorsement contingent on the successful negotiation of a voluntary agreement.  The voluntary agreement should include prohibiting the sale of minis.

 

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 4B03 Fred Grant to represent this resolution to government agencies and panels.”

 

The vote followed a presentation from Mr. Kim and a discussion.  Mr. Kim said he has owned the business for seven years.  He said he will concentrate on selling large-sized bottles and does not sell to inebriated customers.  He said he would discuss a voluntary agreement committing not to sell miniature bottles. 

 

Right now food makes up about 70 percent of the store’s shelf space and beer and wine take up about 30 percent, he said.  If the Class A license is approved, those percentages will change to roughly 60 percent food and 40 percent alcoholic beverages, he said.

 

Commissioner Jones said there is a homeless shelter across the street from the store and the sale of miniature bottles might not be a good idea. She also asked if Mr. Kim contributed to community groups.  Mr. Kim said he has contributed to the Bridges Academy, a nearby school.

 

Commissioner Grant said he did not receive a single complaint about the Food Barn and did not want to oppose a neighborhood business that was operating without complaint.  He also said that Victor Liquors, located across the street, had closed, so there is no over concentration of Class A licenses in the neighborhood.

 

6)  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Jefferson, the Commission agreed to send a letter to the DC Public Charter School Board waiving ANC 4B’s right to a notice of 30 business days with respect to commenting on the lease of the former Rabaut Junior High School.  The Capitol City Public Charter School is slated to lease the building.

 

7)  In a 4-1-0 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Smith, the Commission adopted its 2012 budget.  

 

The vote followed a discussion. Commissioner Green said she is concerned that the $6,000 cell phone item in the budget will be misinterpreted to mean that the Commission has already agreed to purchase phones and pay for monthly fees for Commissioners when the purchases and leases have not been approved.

 

Several Commissioners, including Treasurer Smith, said no check(s) would be written for cell phones without a vote. 

 

James Irwin, ANC 4B’s staff assistant, said that the Auditor’s Office will require that ANC 4B vote on a specific cell phone contract and will also require that the authorizing vote be included in the minutes.

 

8)  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Smith, the Commission adopted the 4th Quarterly Report For Fiscal Year 2011.  The balance forward was $29,452.15. Available funds totaled $29,458.47.  Distributions totaled $12,291.49.  The ending balance, as of September 30, 2011, was $17,166.98.

 

The vote followed a discussion.  Commissioner Wheeler said the Commission is slowly exhausting its funds.

 

9)  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted the minutes from the October 24 public meeting.

 

10)  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Smith, the Commission agreed to a contract hiring James H. Irwin as its staff assistant.  The contract specifies, among other things, that Mr. Irwin will be paid $15/hour for 20 hours per week.

 

Community Concerns

1)  Wendell Jones of Sheridan Street, NW, said he is concerned about traffic at the Missouri and Georgia intersection following the construction of the Walmart.  Adam Davis, of Foulger-Pratt, the site’s developer, said there is no entrance off of 9th Street, NW, and that should reduce congestion.

 

2)  Commissioner Wheeler cited Walmart’s $175,000 gift to the DC Preservation League and said she is concerned that the League might have compromised its independence when it did not oppose the demolition of the car barn on the Walmart site. 

 

3)  Michael Sindram, of 4B02, said he was misquoted in many ANC 4B minutes, that he supports the appointment of Elizabeth Noel to the DC Public Service Commission, is concerned about appointments to the Board of Elections and Ethics, the number of post boxes in the area and an ANC 4B meeting room expenditure.

 

4)  Commissioner Speaks said residents want the bus stop WMATA pulled from 5th and Oglethorpe Street returned to service.  Commissioner Smith, whose single member district includes the stop, said that the change was the result of a WATA hearing and a survey and traffic flow concerns.  He said he talked to residents several months ago who were satisfied with the change.  Residents can petition to return the stop, he said.

 

5) Commissioner Grant said his constituents live near the stop. He said he has not heard complaints about it.  

 

6)  A woman said she is concerned about the removal of a mail box in 4B03.  Commissioner Grant said he inquired about it and was told that mail boxes are being removed all over the city and are removed when there are fewer than 200 pieces of mail each month.

 

7)  Wanda Oates, of 4B05, discussed the removal of the 5th Street bus stop. She said Ward 4 City Council Member Muriel Bowser is a member of WMATA Board and can address the bus stop issue.

 

8)  Andre Carley, of 9th Street, NW, said neighbors can petition the US Postal Service to return a mail box and that he and his neighbors have done that successfully.

 

Presentations and Reports

1) Adam Davis, of Foulger-Pratt, reported on the construction of the Walmart store at Georgia Avenue and Missouri Road, NW.  The demolition will begin at the end of December, he said.  Commissioner Smith said the residents of the adjacent Florian Apartments are concerned about an influx of rats when the building is demolished.  Mr. Davis said he will meet with the residents.

 

2)  Patricia Jackson, a student and a 4B05 resident, presented a report on gentrification.  She asked meeting attendees to share their views.  Commissioner Speaks and Ms. Oates asked ANC 4B to write a letter thanking Ms. Jackson to be used in her college applications.

 

3)  Commissioner Grant reported on the meeting with Safeway officials about problems at their 6500 Piney Branch Rd., NW store. The store manager said, among other things, that they are fixing the bathrooms, will move a noisy piece of equipment to another side of the property, and will also give customers one free item if the price of a purchased item is incorrectly charged.

 

 

-- The meeting ended at about 10:30 pm