Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

November 25, 2013 Regular Public Meeting

Adopted at January 29, 2014 Regular Public Meeting

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:02 PM, Sara Green, Chair (and ANC 4B01) presiding.  It was held in the community meeting room, MPD 4th District Headquarters, 6001 Georgia Avenue N.W.  A quorum was present for all votes.  Commissioners present during the meeting were Commissioners 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Fred Grant, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Ron Austin, 4B07 Judi Jones, 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson, and 4B09 Doug Sloan.

 

Actions:

 

1)       The agenda was adopted with the following changes:

 

Remove Item #6, Presentation and Recommendation Vote:  BZA Application #18671, Jemal’s TP Land LLC, special exceptions and variance for 6923-6953 Maple Street N.W. and 6916-6926 Willow Street N.W. and defer it to the Commission’s January 27, 2014 meeting.

 

Remove Item #7, Recommendation Vote:  Resolution concerning Metro memorial design and implementation of Metro safety measures and defer it to the Commission’s January 27, 2014 meeting.

 

2)       Presentation and Recommendation Vote:   To Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority Board of Directors Regarding Proposed Apartment Building on Surface Parking Lot at Takoma Metro Station

 

Representatives of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and developer EYA presented the current conceptual design for a 200+ unit apartment building to be constructed at the Takoma Metro Station. 

Following the presentation, Commissioner Green moved that the Commission adopt a resolution making recommendations regarding the proposed project.  Commissioner Grant seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted, 7 yes, 1 no.

The adopted resolution:

WHEREAS:

 

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B is concerned about the current proposal to build approximately 200+ apartments on the surface parking lot and on the landscaped buffer separating the parking lot from the adjacent three-story apartment building.

 

We direct this resolution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board and its Committee on Planning, Program Development and Real Estate (PPDRE).  We ask that the WMATA Board, including WMATA Board Chair Tom Downs, PPDRE Chair Muriel Bowser, and DC Board Members Tom Bulger and Terry Bellamy consider this resolution prior to any vote and respond in writing. 

 

We thank WMATA’s Director of Real Estate and Station Planning Stan Wall for providing a traffic impact study, received on November 22, 2013 and look forward to reviewing it.

 

However, the study’s conclusions that the project would “slightly impact the traffic generation on Eastern Avenue” is not credible.   Also, its conclusion that some curbside parking may need to be eliminated is a problem.  Eastern Avenue residents object to these changes and are also concerned about how a bike route to the station may affect them.

 

We have heard from residents, property owners and businesses.   While there is support for developing a portion of the Takoma  Metro Station property, and support for this proposal in whole or in part, there is also considerable concern about some important elements, and we find that concern persuasive.

 

ANC 4B cites the following issues and concerns:

 

*  The WMATA Board may vote to amend its existing Joint Development Agreement with EYA in December 2013.  That vote is a key decision on an Agreement that will be difficult to modify or reject due to, among other reasons, financial terms which make design changes expensive.

 

The developer currently proposes a building that is mostly 6 to 7 stories tall and translates to 72 feet high.  This proposal well exceeds the 50 foot maximum height permitted on much of that site by right in the current DC zoning regulations.  Forty feet is the height limit on part of it.  

 

*  The proposal is out of scale and overwhelms the three-story apartment and cooperative buildings on Eastern Avenue that are its neighbors.  It is even more out of scale with the one and two-story homes across the street on Eastern Avenue.

 

Furthermore, the four buildings already built or approved that sit next to the tracks are 50 feet tall -- in conformity with DC zoning regulations.

 

*  It appears that the developer, EYA, may wish to negotiate -- through the PUD process -- a height greater than the legal limit. We question whether the WMATA Board should be voting on a project with dimensions that are not permitted by DC zoning regulations.

 

*  EYA has not provided drawings or models that show either their proposal or the legal limit in context with the existing neighboring homes, apartments and cooperative buildings, making it difficult for the community to understand the proposal.  We question whether the WMATA Board should be voting on any proposal without seeing its impact on neighboring properties, a key principle of urban design.

 

*  Designating a permanent public park on the existing green space at the corner of Carroll and Cedar is a major and necessary provision, and ANC 4B thanks PPDRE Chair Bowser and WMATA staff for including it.   However, the community needs more information and more discussion prior to any vote.

 

*  The approximately 70-foot treed buffer between the existing parking lot and the three-story apartment building at 7036 Eastern Avenue, NW would be eliminated under this proposal, eliminating a great number of mature trees.  It would be replaced with the driveways for cars and trucks that will serve the entire building, subjecting neighbors to fumes and noise.  We encourage the developer to incorporate innovative green, air and water infrastructure fixes that utilize grasses and trees currently on the project site.

 

*  The proposed project conflicts with key elements of the Takoma Central District Plan, the current planning document for the area adopted by the DC Council in 2002. 

For example, one of the Plan’s goals is to “preserve and enhance Takoma’s small town/village character” by limiting new residential and commercial buildings to “no more than 2-4 stories in height to match existing neighborhood scale.”  (Page 8)  The Central District Plan also calls for a 50-foot landscaped buffer between the station’s transit functions and residences, “such as the multi-family structures to the north along Eastern Avenue.” (Page 52)

 

*  The proposed building is poorly designed.  For example, trash trucks will need to back over a sidewalk that is a heavily used walking route to the Metro Station.  Persons with disabilities who park in the public garage need to cross drive lanes in order to enter the Station. 

 

*   Community outreach and consultation have been inadequate.  WMATA and EYA representatives have attended only one public meeting with DC residents, held on July 13, 2013.  EYA and WMATA said they were unable to answer specific questions about height, scale, setbacks, parking, and the park, among other issues, because the plans were preliminary.

 

The Commission thanks WMATA staff and EYA Senior Vice President Jack Lester for meeting with ANC 4B01 and 4B02 Commissioners Sara Green and Faith Wheeler.  However, we are concerned that WMATA and EYA representatives declined an invitation to attend a November 23, 2013 community meeting hosted by Commissioners Green and Wheeler.  They did hold an invitation-only meeting with residents at a Maryland restaurant and one meeting a Takoma, DC restaurant for a small number of residents who were asked to RSVP in advance.

 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the design is not ready for a WMATA Board vote. 

 

We call on the WMATA Board to direct its staff, working with the developer, to work closely and collaboratively with the community, particularly with those who live in the adjacent buildings, to improve the design so that it conforms to DC zoning regulations and is compatible with the character and scale in Takoma, DC.  We also call on the WMATA Board to fix the proposal’s poorly designed and unsafe features.  

 

In addition, we ask that the WMATA Board consider the adverse impact this project will bring to the community.

 

These steps need to be taken before any WMATA Committee or full Board vote.

 

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that WMATA staff and EYA consider a design that puts housing on top of a platform with two levels of parking underneath.  Such a design will replace the taller structure currently proposed to house parking, and will solve other design flaws, including the poor location of elevators.

 

We ask WMATA and EYA to come back before ANC 4B so that we can vote on the final approval of the project.

 

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the WMATA Board consider soliciting other bids for the property in order to ensure that the best design is built at the Takoma Metro Station.

 

We look forward to reviewing a proposal that will enhance the community.

 

3)       Presentation and Recommendation Vote:  Renewal of Class C Tavern Liquor License, Cedar Crossing Tavern and Wine Bar, 341 Cedar Street N.W.

 

Commissioner Green moved that the Commission adopt a resolution supporting the application of Cedar Crossing Tavern and Wine Bar to renew their liquor license.  Commissioner Grant seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B recommends that the application of Cedar Crossing Tavern and Wine Bar, 341 Cedar Street N.W., for renewal of its Class C Tavern liquor license be approved.

 

4)       Approval Vote:  Amendment of Settlement Agreement with Georgia Avenue Food Barn, 6205 Georgia Avenue N.W.

 

Commissioner Grant noted that the owners of Georgia Avenue Food Barn would like to sell half-pint containers of liquor, but the Settlement Agreement between them and the Commission prohibits the sale of anything less than one pint.  Commissioner Grant moved that the Commission adopt a resolution authorizing the amendment of the Settlement Agreement to permit the sale of half-pint containers.  Commissioner Wheeler seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

RESOLVED:

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B hereby approves the following amendment to a Settlement Agreement with Georgia Avenue Food Barn dated January 27, 2012, as follows:

 

 

Amend Section 1 (Prohibition of sale of miniature liquor containers) to read as follows:

 

Prohibition of sale of miniature liquor containers:  The Applicant agrees that it will not provide, sell, or make available in any manner any liquor container less than one one-half pint in volume.

 

5)       Approval Vote: FY 2013 Fourth Quarter Report

 

Commissioner Grant presented the FY 2013 Fourth Quarter Report and moved that the report be approved.  Commissioner Austin seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

6)       Approval Vote:  Contract for Services, ANC 4B Staff Assistant

 

Commissioner Grant stated that the contract for services between the Commission and James H. Irwin had to be renewed.   The terms of employment are twenty hours per week at $15.00 per hour.  The term of the contract shall be three years.  In addition, Commissioner Grant noted that the contract provides for a one-time bonus payment of $2,000.00.  This payment will be generated by changing the hourly rate of compensation to $65.00 per hour for one pay period only. 

Commissioner Grant moved that the contact be approved.  Commissioner Austin seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously by roll call vote, 6 yes, 0 no.

The roll call vote:

YES                                           NO                                   ABSTAIN

Green

Wheeler

Grant

Austin

Jefferson

Sloan

 

The adopted resolution:

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B approves a contract for services between the Commission and James H. Irwin, for twenty hours per week at fifteen dollars per hour, and that the term of this contract shall be for three years.  However, the Commission may consider a salary increase at any time.

 

 

 

 

FURTHER RESOLVED:

 

That in this contract the Commission provides a one-time bonus payment to James H. Irwin in the amount of two thousand dollars; this payment shall be generated by a one-time-only increase in the hourly rate of pay to $65.00 for one pay period; otherwise the hourly rate of pay shall be $15.00 for all other pay periods during the term of the contract.

 

Community Concerns

 

Six people addressed the Commission with concerns or questions:

 

1)       Ms. Wanda Oates, ANC 4B05, commended Commissioner Speaks for her attendance, always being on time to meetings, and her exemplary service to her constituents.

 

2)       Minister Alfreda Chi Mauuso, ANC 4B03, expressed concern about Haydee’s 2000 cleaning the street in front of their business and her home.

 

3)       Mr. Jack Werner, 6900 block of [inaudible] Street, expressed concern about inadequate communication by the police during a recent robbery incident and requested a discussion with police at a future Commission meeting.

 

4)       Mr. Mario Cristalvo, representing Councilmember Anita Bonds, announced two community action summits organized by the Councilmember.

 

5)       Ms. Linda Gray, ANC 4B01, asked the Commission to help get the back of the buildings on Blair Road by the post office cleaned of graffiti.

 

6)       Mr. Kishan Putta, representing D.C. Health Link, encouraged everyone to go to the website and enroll for health insurance.

 

Presentations and Reports

 

1)       Mr. Matt Shalafou, representing UIP Architecture and Engineering and Mr. Cliff Seagraves, representing the U.S. State Department, gave a presentation regarding the proposed State Department Foreign Missions Center, to be located on the Walter Reid campus.  They answered questions from Commissioners and the public.

 

2)       Commissioner Grant, Treasurer, presented the Treasurer’s Report:

 

ANC 4B Treasurer’s Report –November 25, 2013

 

As of October 31, 2013 the Industrial Bank checking account balance was $17,892.83.

 

Balance – 9/30/13                                                                         $ 14,486.53

                                                           

Income – 10/1/13-10/31/13

Deposit – D.C. allotment                                  $  5,121.64

Interest                                                           $         0.62

 

Expenditures – 10/1/13-10/31/13                      $  1,715.96

 

Ending balance – 10/31/13                                                             $17,892.83

 

The following checks were cashed between 10/1/13 and 10/31/13:

Date Cashed

 Name

Check #

Amount

Purpose

Meeting Approval Date

10/4/13

James H. Irwin

4849

461.70

Net salary & wages

2014 interim budget

10/28/13

10/8/13

Jamal’s Takoma Park LLC

4847

600.00

Office rent

2014 interim budget

10/28/13

10/10/13

Konica Minolta

4848

66.55

Printing & copying

2014 interim budget 10/28/13

10/17/13

Verizon

4851

39.99

Internet

2014 interim budget 10/28/13

10/17/13

Verizon

4850

86.02

Landline phone

2014 interim budget 10/28/13

10/18/13

James H. Irwin

4852

461.70

Net Salary & Wages

2014 interim budget 10/28/13

 

 

3)       Commissioner Jefferson, Secretary, presented the draft minutes of the October 25, 2013 regular public meeting.  Commissioner Grant moved that the minutes be approved.  Commissioner Jefferson seconded the motion.  The minutes were adopted by show-of-hands vote, 6 yes, 0 no.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM.