Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

October 22, 2012 Regular Public Meeting – adopted 1/28/13

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM, Sara Green, Chair (and ANC 4B01) presiding.  It was held at the MPD’s 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW. Also present were Commissioners 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Fred Grant, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B07 Judi Jones, 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson, and 4B09 Doug Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

 

1)         The agenda as presented was adopted without objection.

 

2)         Presentation and Vote:  Resolution regarding proposed 140-unit apartment development at Spring Place

 

Mr. Bruce Levin and Mr. Don Tucker, developers of the Spring Place project, presented the details of their updated plans.

 

Following the presentation, questions and discussion, Commissioner Green moved that the Commission adopt a resolution she had prepared and presented.  Commissioner Jefferson seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, six yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

RESOLVED:

DC Historic Preservation Review Board

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B thanks Developers Don Tucker and Bruce Levin and their team for the work they have done to improve the design of 7051 Spring Place, NW.   The proposal (marked September 2012) is much improved over what was submitted in December 2011.

We support the developer’s proposal and ask the Board to consider the modifications proposed by Architect David Hamilton (attached to this proposal) if they are feasible.  We believe they have merit.

The additional brick helps to link this building and make it more compatible with the surrounding Takoma Park Historic District, in which most apartment buildings are made of brick. It will also fit with the newer Gables and Cedar Crossing apartment and condominium buildings.

The brick Mr. Hamilton proposes is a relatively simple and modest addition, but very effective throughout the project to frame the edges and entrances to the buildings.  It is particularly important on the long and prominent northeast sides of the buildings, the sections that face the Metro tracks.  This section looks bare and unappealing compared to the other facades and does not reflect he historic “feel” of Takoma.  Also, it is the portion of the building that will be seen by thousands of people riding the Metro each day, many more than those who will view the Spring Place and Bull Place facades.  This façade is a gateway to the Takoma Park Historic District and it should not be overlooked.

The additional landscaping Mr. Hamilton proposes is also welcome and necessary.  One of Takoma’s historic hallmarks is its tree-lined streets.

We also ask that the developers be asked to work with the abutting Chestnut Street property owners to ensure that as much screening as possible is provided to protect their privacy.

 

DC City Council, DC Housing Agencies

We understand that the developers may ask the DC City Council and other DC agencies to approve tax abatements and other funding supported, at least in part, by the DC government and DC taxpayers.  We ask that the Council and all other agencies delay any action on these proposals until the community and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B have had an opportunity to review the fully and comment.

3)         Vote:  Resolution regarding Walter Reed Small Area Plan

Commissioner Wheeler presented a resolution making recommendations for the final Walter Reed Small Area Plan.  She moved that the Commission adopt this resolution.  Commissioner Grant seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 5 yes, 0 no.

The adopted resolution:

 

WHEREAS the Office of Planning (OP) has developed a draft Small Area Plan for the site of the former Walter Reed Army Hospital, which borders on Single Member Districts 4B02 and 4B01, and which will have a substantial impact on all of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B); and OP will accept comments on their proposal until October 31, 2012;

 

WHEREAS Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) supports the goals detailed in the Office of Planning’s proposed Walter Reed Small Area Plan to provide compatible, diverse, quality development that invigorates the site and the community, preserves open space and historic buildings and resources, and generates additional tax revenues;

 

Implementation and Community involvement: 

 

WHEREAS, the public must have confidence that all financial transactions relating to the site are conducted with transparency and integrity;

 

WHEREAS the full development of the site could take as many as three decades, the community needs to remain involved in the on-going process to ensure that the Re-use Plan is being carried out as adopted by the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority and the DC Council;

 

Historic Preservation:

 

WHEREAS the events that have unfolded on this land and in its storied buildings, from the Civil War through to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, are important to the identity of the nation for us to honor and respect;

 

WHEREAS the historic properties on the Walter Reed campus are important distinguishing features as well as valuable resources for the campus’ successful redevelopment, for the community, and for the City; 

 

WHEREAS the winding Main Drive is a key historic feature of the WRAMC campus;

 

WHEREAS one of the most valuable resources of the WRAMC campus is its stands of mature trees; their protection and very survival are endangered by the city’s existing tree-save regulations which permit the loss of any tree, including those 55 inches in circumference or larger, provided that a property owner or developer pays into a fund or plants additional trees;

 

WHEREAS currently and historically the campus has expansive green swaths of lawn and trees along much of the Georgia Avenue frontage which offer a welcome respite from the hard brick and mortar to the north and south of the campus and a suggestion of the sylvan character for which the surrounding residential communities are known; 

 

Compatibility and character:

 

WHEREAS the height of new buildings directly across Georgia Avenue and Fern Street from existing, long-established single family homes should complement and harmonize with them;

 

Transportation: 

 

WHEREAS easy connectivity to the Takoma and Silver Spring Metro Stations are essential to provide good access to and from the redeveloped Walter Reed campus; residential streets and intersections between the Walter Reed campus and the Takoma Metro Station are too narrow and congested to accommodate a streetcar line;

 

WHEREAS excessive noise will be an issue;

 

Building rehabilitation:

 

WHEREAS the long and narrow Building 14 is proposed to be divided in two to allow a pedestrian walkway as well as more attractive and comfortable living and working conditions; H.E.L.P. Development Corporation (which will occupy half of the building for use as a Homeless Assistance Provider for homeless veterans and veterans’ families) wants to keep the building intact in order to limit the cost of rehabilitating their half of the building; 

 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that ANC 4B supports the adoption of the Walter Reed Small Area Plan with the changes and amendments detailed below.   We recommend that:

 

the Walter Reed redevelopment be as walkable/bikeable/transit-oriented, environmentally green/energy-conserving, aesthetically inviting and economically viable as possible.

 

Implementation and Community involvement: 

 

the Plan include details about the formal public review process for land sales, leases and contracting, the timing of public meetings and public disclosure, as well the details of DC City Council oversight.    The planning function of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority should be broadened to include the implementation function.    This would ensure that development is carried out according to the adopted LRA Reuse Plan and that there are safeguards to ensure that the sale of what is essentially public land, located on one of the most desirable development sites in the city, is fair and equitable. 

 

the Implementation Plan for a Master Developer be rejected unless there are detailed requirements for significant transparency and continuous public participation in the decision-making throughout the entire development process. 

 

Historic Preservation:

 

the DC Government preserve the WRAMC historic properties according to the same or better standards as those required in the Programmatic Agreement with the US Army, with weekly interior and exterior inspections to ensure their protection.  Re-use of historic buildings – especially Buildings 38 (a former guardhouse) and 83 (which formerly housed animals used in medical research) -- should be considered instead of demolition. 

 

Any changes to Building One – the most historic building on the site -- need to be handled with great care so that the original building is preserved undamaged.  (Additions to the original building are proposed for demolition.)

 

the Small Area Plan take into account the locations of interpretive panels installed for a self-guided walking tour as well as note the need for DC to maintain the panels, once installed.   (The Army has agreed to fund the design, production and installation of interpretive panels as a part of or the equivalent to the Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail program.) 

 

implementation of the Small Area Plan not require the widening of Main Drive.  Other less disruptive options to the historic setting should be examined and adopted.

 

the Office of Planning, in consultation with Casey Trees and the City’s Urban Forestry Administration, identify specific mature trees to be saved and protected, including stands of mature trees in the “green breathers” on the Georgia Avenue frontage.  This means that any new development would be planned with the preservation of these trees in mind.

 

all of the green space approved by the LRA, including the “green breathers” on the Georgia Avenue frontage, appear on every map created and used to depict the redevelopment of the property.   We also ask that more green space be added to the southwest corner of the site.  

 

Compatibility and character:  the height of the new Walter Reed buildings directly across from the single family homes on Georgia Avenue and Fern Street be limited to three full stories above ground plus dormers, attics or housing for mechanical equipment, given that the long-established residences across the two streets mostly have two full stories plus dormers.

 

the Walter Reed site be excluded from any new zoning regulations that would permit increases in building height, density, parking, reductions in green space or setbacks or any other requirements that would change the adopted Walter Reed LRA Re-Use Plan or the preservation of the historic sites.

 

noise reduction and abatement be considered throughout the process.

 

Transportation:  those provisions in the transportation plan be rejected which direct vehicular traffic onto Blair Road and would install streetcars on narrow streets.  

 

bus, shuttle bus, van transportation be considered to the Takoma Metro Station.  Also, consider instituting a “circulator” with stops through the Walter Reed campus, Takoma and Silver Spring Metro Stations. 

 

Building rehabilitation:

 

an arched pedestrian walkway be constructed through the middle of Building 14 which will allow pedestrians to walk through as well as allow for utilities to be re-routed between the two halves through the ceiling or underground. 

 

Recommendations in ANC 4B’s June 4, 2012 Resolution:

 

all recommendations in the June 4, 2012 Resolution be acted upon.

 

We authorize Commissioner Faith Wheeler to represent this resolution on behalf of ANC 4B before the DC City Council and all other City agencies.

 

4)         Vote:  Resolution Adopting Interim Operating Budget for FY 2013

 

Commissioner Grant noted that the Commission needed to adopt an interim budget for the current fiscal year until a final budget can be developed.  He presented a resolution to that effect and moved that the Commission adopt it.  Commissioner Sloan seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 5 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted motion:

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B adopts the existing FY 2012 budget as the interim budget for FY 2013 until a final budget can be adopted.

 

Community Concerns

 

1)         Ms. Wanda Oates, resident of ANC 4B05, wanted to state for the record that the resolution supporting the appeal to the Board of Zoning Adjustment of Ms. Ginia Avery, et. al. opposing the granting of a building permit to Wal-Mart for its location at Georgia and Missouri Avenues N.W. was authored and submitted by Commissioner Brenda Speaks, ANC 4B05 at the September 24, 2012 meeting.  Because Commissioner Speaks was ill and had lost her voice, she could not read the resolution herself, although present at the meeting, so Commissioner Jefferson read it for her.

 

2)         Ms. Ginia Avery, Ward 4 Thrives, gave a brief report on the Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing on her appeal opposing the granting of the Wal-Mart building permit.  The Board did not grant the appeal.  The next step is to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals.

 

3)         Mr. Michael Sindram, resident of ANC 4B02, asked ANC 4B to submit a letter to Councilmember Mary Cheh opposing street trolleys in Washington D.C.  He also asked the Commission to address a letter opposing parking meter fees for the handicapped to Councilmember Cheh.

 

4)         Commissioner Jones noted that the rewrite of zoning regulations would include an increase in the maximum number of residents of group homes from six to eight.  She suggested that this should be a matter of community concern.  Commissioner Green agreed and said that the Commission should address this issue in a future meeting.

 

Presentations and Reports

 

There were no presentations or reports.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 PM.