Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

September 24, 2012 Regular Public Meeting – adopted 1/28/13

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 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, and 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

 

1)         The agenda was adopted by a show-of-hands vote, 6 yes, 0 no, following a motion from Commissioner Grant, seconded by Commissioner Wheeler.

 

2)         Presentation & Vote:  Resolution Regarding Board of Zoning Adjustment Appeal 18460, Wal-Mart Building Permit

 

Commissioner Green noted that Wal-Mart and Foulger Pratt had been invited to present their position on the appeal to the Zoning Commission to rescind their building permit.  However, both parties declined due to pending litigation.

 

Ms. Ginia Avery, representing Ward 4 Thrives, presented the details of their appeal to the Zoning Commission and their request for support from ANC 4B.

 

Following discussion and questions from the Commission and the public, Commissioner Speaks presented a motion that she had prepared supporting the appeal of Ward 4 Thrives, and moved that ANC 4B adopt it.  Commissioner Jones seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted by roll call vote, 5 yes, 0 no, 1 abstain

 

The roll call vote was:

 

YES                                                                NO                                          ABSTAIN

 

Green                                                                                                             Grant

Wheeler

Speaks

Jones

Jefferson

 

The adopted resolution:

 

Ø  On August 10, 2012 a group of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B residents filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Adjustment opposing the construction of the proposed Wal-Mart store at 5929 Georgia Avenue N.W. on the grounds that the building permit was illegally granted by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

 

Ø  Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B notes that the appeal is based on the governing authority of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan and the Upper Georgia Avenue Great Streets Redevelopment Plan, and agrees that decisions regarding zoning and construction should be guided by these Plans.

 

Ø  Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B notes that the proposed Wal-Mart does appear to be inconsistent with goals and provisions of these plans and will have adverse impacts on traffic volume and pedestrian safety, pedestrian-oriented development and the development of a positive mix of small-business uses in the Upper Georgia Avenue business district, among other impacts.

 

Ø  Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B notes that it made detailed comments and recommendations to the Office of Planning in response to the Large-Tract Review conducted on the proposed Wal-Mart in a resolution adopted at its public meeting on June 27, 2011 (copy attached for reference), and that most of its recommendations were dismissed as not within the scope of the review.  Therefore, the project was not modified in ways that would have mitigated its adverse impact on the development of the Upper Georgia Avenue business district and the quality of life of residents in the area.

 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:        

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B strongly supports the Appeal of Ginia L. Avery, et al of a decision by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to issue a building permit (#B1202925) allowing the construction of a retail store in the C-3-A District at premises 5929 Georgia Avenue N.W. (Square 2986, Lot 38), and advises and recommends to the Board of Zoning Adjustment that it grant this appeal.

3)         Presentation and Vote:  Public Space Occupancy Permit Application – 255 Carroll Street NW

 

Mr. Sas Gharai, Mr. Chris Colross and Mr. Jon Kardon, representing the developer of 255 Caroll Street N.W., presented the details of the public space occupancy permit application submitted to the Public Space Management Committee of the Office of Planning.  Mr. Matthew Marcou, Chair of the Public Space Committee, provided clarifying information and answered questions, while taking no position on the merits of the application.

 

Following questions and discussion from the Commission and the Public, Commissioner Green moved that ANC 4B adopt a resolution opposing the application as submitted unless certain recommendations listed in the resolution are accepted.  Commissioner Jefferson seconded the motion.

 

The motion was adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted motion:

 

RESOLVED:

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B opposes this permit application as submitted unless the following recommendations to the Public Space Management Committee (the Committee), the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Office of Historic Preservation (HPO), and the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) are accepted with respect to 255 Carroll Street N.W. and the adjoining building:

1.         We are concerned that the proposed driveway width of 14 feet near the intersection of Carroll and Cedar Streets, N.W. is too narrow for all two-way traffic and will be inconvenient, aggravating and a potential safety problem, offering virtually no maneuvering space should a combination of two large cars, SUVs or vans use this driveway at once.

The developer has acknowledged that some drivers may have to back up to permit passage.  This could cause problems for through traffic on Carroll Street, a road that is a major bus, vehicle and pedestrian route to the Takoma Metro Station.

Other options should be considered to ease access, including a link with the Maple Street driveway and/or professionally-engineered traffic lights that control access to the driveway.  If a 14-feet-wide driveway is approved, the permit needs to be clear that this is residential parking only, and that no commuter, commercial or truck parking is permitted, with corresponding signage and a secure gate.

2.         This project is an opportunity for a high-quality addition to the streetscape that will set a standard for future developers.  As stated in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital (Policy E-1.1.3), we ask that the Committee “encourage the use of landscaping to beautify the city, enhance streets and public spaces, reduce storm water runoff and create a stronger sense of character and identity” for the site.

We therefore ask for a landscape design that is more substantial and distinctive than what is now proposed, to the extent that it is permitted by the Urban Forestry Administration.  It is reasonable to ask that the developer maintain these plantings. 

We also point to Policy E-1.1.2 in the Comprehensive Plan (“Tree Requirements in New Development”) which states:  “If tree planting and landscaping are required as a condition of permit approval, also require provisions for ongoing maintenance.”

3.         We note that we were not informed about the public space proposal for the adjoining building being built by the same developer at the corner of Carroll and Maple Streets, N.W.  That building is only a few feet from the D.C. City line and from one of the City’s only remaining original boundary stones, an historic marker.  It was placed during the George Washington Administration to mark the original boundary of the District of Columbia.

We point to Policy UD-3.1.13 (“Signage”) in the Comprehensive Plan.  It “[e]ncourage[s] high standards of signage throughout the District, particularly for signs that designate landmarks, historic districts and other areas of civic importance.”

The site of the boundary stone is an excellent opportunity for a “Welcome to the District of Columbia” sign and a sign that identifies the Takoma Park Historic District.  We ask that DDOT, HPO and HPRB approve, design and install such a sign as close to the boundary stone as possible, perhaps one that incorporates both functions.

Commissioner Sara Green is authorized to represent this resolution before the D.C. Government.

4)         Presentation and Vote:  Resolution Opposing Bus Depot Construction at Crummell School and Upholding ANC Notice and Great Weight

 

Ms. Renee Bowser, representing Empower DC, presented the concerns of residents in Ward 5 regarding the planned use of the historic Alexander Crummell School site in Ivy City as a bus parking depot for commercial buses.  She said the issue is of concern to Ward 4 and other Wards because the DC Government completely ignored the legal requirement to notify ANC 5B and to give its input “great weight,” which has serious implications for the role of all ANCs.  She asked the Commission to join other ANCs around the city in opposing the D.C.government’s proposed plan by adopting a resolution which she distributed to the Commission. 

 

Commissioner Green noted for the record that a representative of the Mayor’s Office had been invited to attend the meeting to present the government’s side of the issue, but the invitation was declined.

Following an extensive presentation, and questions and discussion, Commissioner Speaks moved that ANC 4B adopt the resolution submitted by Ms. Bowser.  Commissioner Wheeler seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

WHEREAS litigation is currently underway affecting important matters concerning the authority of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), and it is important that all ANCs register their views about this important litigation, and

WHEREAS at stake in this litigation is the special notice requirement which defines the government’s responsibility to inform the ANC of any government action being taken which affects the ANC’s community, by providing 30 days’ notice in the DC register, and

WHEREAS, in addition, at stake in this matter is the statutory requirement that ANC input be received and considered with “great weight” by the government prior to taking action affecting the ANC’s community, and

WHEREAS, in addition, at stake in this litigation is the question of when the government must inform and involve the community in matters when its actions constitute a potential threat to the environment and human health, and what the government must do to ensure clean air and to protect human health, and

WHEREAS, in addition, at stake in this litigation is the question of whether special treatment must be accorded to locally and nationally designated historic sites with regard to evaluation of environmental impact, ANC notice, and ANC input, and

WHEREAS, in addition, at stake in this matter is whether the plans laid out in DC’s Comprehensive Plan, Area Plans, and through other government-sponsored planning initiatives for Crummell School constitute a covenant with the residents who have fought for the uses laid out in the Plan for Crummell School, and whether actions taken by the government which are inconsistent with these plans constitute a breach of trust and/or breach of contract, and

WHEREAS these issues have become a focal point because of actions that the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s office has taken affecting the use of the Alexander Crummell School, an historically-designated site within the Ivy City Community, a community already battered by misdirected government actions, and

WHEREAS the Mayor of DC issued an Executive Order authorizing the licensing of the Crummell School lot to the Union station Redevelopment Corporation for the purpose of constructing a bus depot which is designed to accommodate parking and idling of sixty-five (65) buses at a time from 7:00 AM t0 7:00 PM daily for the next five to ten years, and

WHEREAS the construction of the bus depot began in June, 2012 despite the fact that there was no official notice to ANC 5B, no opportunity for ANC 5B’s input to be considered and afforded “great weight,” no study of the environmental impact, and despite the opposition of the local community, and

WHEREAS the District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2006, DC Law 16-300, effective March 8, 2007, states “[a] high priority should be given to the rehabilitation of the historic Crummell School with a mix of uses for community benefit such as workforce/affordable housing, job training, or meeting space,” and

 

WHEREAS the District of Columbia has concentrated the parking, storage and maintenance of its vehicle fleet in the Northeast community of Ivy City, including the entire school bus fleet parked along Kendall Street at New York Avenue, the Vehicle Maintenance facility and parking enforcement vehicle lot located on West Virginia Avenue, and the six acres of land on Okie Street recently acquired by the City to consolidate the Department of Public Work’s truck fleet.  Additionally, private actors use Ivy City for parking related to local religious institutions, private limousine and bus parking, and the community is overrun by car traffic related to the Love nightclub, and

WHEREAS the District of Columbia failed to provide the statutory prerequisite special notice to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B, the ANC in which Crummell School is located, informing the ANC of the City’s plan to allow construction of a bus depot, as required by the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Act of 1975, DC Law 1-21, as amended by the Comprehensive Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Reform Act of 2000, DC Law 13-135, DC Code §1-309.10(b) and (c) before designating the construction of the bus depot, and

WHEREAS the District of Columbia failed to obtain the input of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B and afford “great weight” to the ANC’s comments as required by District of Columbia law and the District of Columbia Home Rule Charter, and

WHEREAS, although many Ivy City residents suffer from respiratory ailments which likely will be exacerbated by the ingress, egress, and location of additional buses in a depot in their neighborhood, the District of Columbia failed to conduct an Environmental Impact Study, as required by the DC Code or an Environmental Assessment as required by the DC Code, given the Crummell School’s designation as “Historic,” and

WHEREAS, upon learning about the Mayor’s actions, ANC 5B passed a resolution opposing the bus depot by a unanimous vote of 8 yes, 0 no, and

WHEREAS on July 26, 2012, ANC 5B Vice Chair Vaughn Bennett and three residents from the Ivy City community filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages against the Union Station Redevelopment Authority and Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia, in case CA No. 2012 CA 006027B, in order to enjoin actions that are contrary to DC law, and

WHEREAS there was no Ward Five City Council representation, and

WHEREAS a decision may be imminent in the court about these very important matters;

RESOLVED:  that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B advises and recommends:

  1. The immediate halt of construction of the bus depot at Crummell School;
  2. The provision of special notice of government actions to ANCs as required by law;
  3. The giving of consideration to the input of ANCs and affording that input “great weight” as required by law;
  4. The observance of the Comprehensive Plan as the overarching planning document determining the use of important public sites such as Crummell School.
  5. That the Court rule in favor of the people of Ivy City and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B on their complaint seeking relief, and
  6. That the Mayor of the District of Columbia identify an alternate site for the bus depot and work with ANC 5B and Ivy City residents to actualize the plans for the Crummell School as laid out in the Comprehensive Plan.

That the City Council of the District of Columbia support the provisions of this Resolution.

 

 

 

5)         Presentation & Vote:  Resolution to Establish Ad Hoc Project Subcommittee on Takoma Transportation Improvements of ANC 4B Committee on Public Works/Infrastructure/Utilities

 

Commissioner Wheeler presented a resolution to formalize an ad hoc subcommittee as a committee of the Commission so that the District Department of Transportation will give due regard to the work and recommendations of that committee regarding transportation improvements in the Takoma community of D.C.  The focus of the subcommittee is on the intersection of Fourth, Blair and Cedar Streets N.W.  Commissioner Green noted that the subcommittee would be bringing recommendations back to the Commission for review and adoption.

 

Commissioner Wheeler moved the adoption of her resolution.  Commissioner Green seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 5 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

Resolved:  That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B hereby recognizes the ad hoc project team on Takoma transportation improvements as a Sub-committee of ANC 4B’s “Public Works/Infrastructure/Utilities Committee.”  The Sub-Committee shall be called the “Takoma Transportation Improvements Project Teamand shall work on the Fourth, Blair, Cedar Streets NW intersection and environs.  

 

6)         Presentation and Recommendation Vote:  Resolution Requesting Waiver of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit  Authority Fees to Produce Documents in Response to a Public Access to Records Policy Request

 

Commissioner Green reported that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority responded to a request for correspondence and other documents related to transactions affecting the Takoma metro station by requiring the payment of over $1,000 for costs related to locating and copying the materials.  She moved that ANC 4B adopt a resolution requesting waiver of all fees.  Commissioner Jefferson seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 5 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

On July 17, 2012, Commissioner Sara Green requested copies of all emails, letters, reports memoranda, contracts, drawings and site plans pertaining to the lease and/or sale and/or development of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (Metro’s) current and former property at the Takoma Metrorail Station for the period January 1, 2007 to the present.  Commissioner Green also requested all material, including emails, from or to WMATA employees and officials and DC government employees and officials as well as to and from private citizens and businesses.

On August 7, 2012 Ms. Keysia Thom, WMATA administrator for the Public Access to Records Policy, acknowledged Commissioner Green’s request, advising that WMATA would estimate the fees due and payable to cover the cost of processing it.  On August 28, 2012, Ms. Thom provided an estimate of $1,053.73 due and payable in advance in order to fulfill Commissioner Green’s request.

 

RESOLVED:            That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) requests that WMATA waive all fees as itemized in Ms. Keysia Thom’s letter dated August 28, 2012, consistent with §8.4 of the WMATA Public Access to Records Policy, on the following grounds:

1.       ANC 4B is an entity of the Government of the District of Columbia, established by Act of Congress in the D.C. Home Rule Charter, 1976 and by D.C. Code Title 1, Chapter 3, Subchapter V.

2.       ANC 4B requires this information to properly fulfill its advisory function to the D.C. Government.

3.       Provision of this information is in the public interest, will contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations of WMATA and has no commercial value or interest to ANC 4B.

Commissioner Green noted for the record that a quorum was present, consisting of Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Jefferson and Speaks.

 

7)         Vote:  Renewal of Staff Assistant Employment Contract

 

Commissioner Green moved that the Commission approve renewal of the contract for services between ANC 4B and James Irwin, Staff Assistant.  The contract would provide that Mr. Irwin be paid $15.00 per hour to work 20 hours per week, effective October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. Commissioner Wheeler seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 5 yes, 0 no.

 

Commissioner Green noted for the record that a quorum was present, consisting of Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Jefferson and Speaks.

 

Community Concerns

 

1)         Ms. Betty Florence, ANC 4B04, requested that dog waste signs be posted in ANC 4B04, especially around Paul Charter School.  She also requested that no trucks be permitted on residential streets in ANC 4B04.  She was particularly concerned about Peabody Street.  She also asked that greater efforts be made to address the danger of mosquito infestations that carry the West Nile virus, and that ANC 4B take action to call government attention to the problem.  Finally, she thanked all those responsible for getting the Safeway on Piney Branch Road to clean up and improve access to their public bathrooms.

 

2)         Mr. Terry Goings, Parent Outreach Coordinator and Assistant Principal Vernon Howell at Coolidge High School, discussed the recent shooting at the school and answered questions from Commissioners and the public.

 

3)         Michelle Brown, Blair Road, expressed concern about the amount of trash on the streets in her neighborhood, especially around the 7-11 store.  She said she was organizing a neighborhood trash project and invited all present to volunteer.  The trash pickup will be on the fourth Saturday of the month.  A signup sheet was passed around.  Commissioner Jones suggested that she contact the four charter schools in the area.  Their students are required to do community service projects and might be available to participate.

 

4)         Sharon expressed concern about a burned out house in the 700 block of Roxboro Place.  Young men have been loitering on the steps smoking and using profanity.  She asked that something be done about it.  She also asked for the alley in that block to be repaved.  Commissioner Grant said he would work with her and the residents to address these matters.

 

5)         Commissioner Jones expressed her concern about the zoning regulations rewrite and the apparent desire of the Zoning Commission to try to bypass the community consultation process.

 

6)         Commissioner Jefferson suggested that residents should visit the new development at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue NE.  The houses are selling for $700,000 and there will likely be property tax increases for everyone in the area in coming years.

 

7)         Commissioner Grant reviewed the negotiations with Safeway regarding the bathrooms at the Piney Branch store, beginning in 2007, detailing the resolution and correspondence that ANC 4B directed to Safeway and D.C. Government agencies this past summer.  He said that once Safeway began cooperating, the result was better than had been expected, and the bathrooms are now in much better condition.

 

8)         Ms. Wanda Oates, ANC 4B05, asked Mr. Brandon Todd what Councilmember Bowser planned to do about the increasing rodent infestation due to the Wal-Mart site construction.  Mr. Todd said that rodent traps were being placed in the neighborhood.  Ms. Oates asked that such traps be placed around her house.

 

Presentations and Reports

 

1)         Officer Langford of the Metropolitan Police Department presented a public safety report regarding crime in ANC 4B.

 

2)         Mr. Brandon Todd of Councilmember Muriel Bowser’s office, (Ward 4), presented information on current District issues and answered questions from Commissioners and the public.

 

3)         Commissioner Grant, ANC 4B Treasurer, presented the Treasurer’s Report:

 

ANC 4B Treasurer’s Report – September 24, 2012

 

As of August 31, 2012 the Industrial Bank checking account balance was:  $13,992.47.

 

Balance – 6/29/12                                                                               $14,983.97

 

Income – 6/30/12-8/31/12                                           $5,640.70

            Interest income:          $2.10

            D.C. Allotment:           $5,536.93

            Other income:             $101.67

 

Expenditures – 6/30/12-8/31/12                                  $6,632.20

 

Ending balance – 8/31/12                                                                   $13,992.47

 

The following checks were cashed last month:

Date Cashed

 Name

Check #

Amount

Purpose

Meeting Approval Date

7/2/12

James H. Irwin

4724

$461.70

Staff wages

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/3/12

Jamal’s Takoma Park LLC

4725

$600.00

Office rent

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/17/12

Konica Minolta

4729

$126.30

Printing & Copying

5/22/12

7/17/12

James H. Irwin

4730

$461.70

Staff wages

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/18/12

Verizon

4727

$39.99

Internet

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/18/12

Verizon

4726

$112.78

Landline telephone

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/24/12

Kids & Culture LLC

4731

$990.00

Grant

3/26/12

7/25/12

Devon White

4733

$50.00

Flyer distribution

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/26/12

James Tillery

4732

$40.00

Flyer distribution

2012 budget

11/28/11

7/27/12

James H. Irwin

4734

$461.70

Staff wages

2012 budget

11/28/12

8/1/12

Jamal’s Takoma Park LLC

4736

$600.00

Office rent

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/6/12

Capital Services & Supplies

4737

297.96

Office supplies

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/6/12

4Ever Emery LLC

4735

$1,000.00

Grant

7/23/12

8/13/12

James H. Irwin

4741

$461.70

Staff wages

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/16/12

Verizon

4739

$39.99

Internet

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/16/12

Verizon

4738

$118.52

Landline Telephone

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/16/12

Konica Minolta

4740

$120.79

Printing & Copying

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/17/12

U.S. Postal Service

4742

$45.00

Postage

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/23/12

Capital Services & Supplies

4743

$142.37

Office Supplies

2012 budget

11/28/11

8/27/12

James H. Irwin

4744

$461.70

Staff wages

2012 budget

11/28/11

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:41 PM.