Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

March 25, 2013 Regular Public Meeting, adopted at April 22 public meeting

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:01 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, 4B04 Brenda Parks, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Ron Austin, 4B07 Judi Jones, 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

 

1)         The agenda as presented was revised to add one item at Commissioner Green’s request:  a vote to reaffirm the Commission’s resolution R12-1004, adopted October 22, 2012 regarding the Walter Reed Small Area Plan (see page three).

 

The agenda as revised was adopted without objection.

 

2)         Recommendation Vote to the Board of Zoning Adjustment:  Spring Place Apartments Application for Variance to Reduce Number of Required Parking Spaces and Size of Loading Docks

 

Mr. Don Tucker, developer of the Spring Place Apartments project, gave a brief presentation on the status of their application for variances to the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the changes they have made.  Following discussion and questions from the Commission and the public, Commissioner Green moved that the Commission adopt a resolution supporting the application with recommendations.  Commissioner Jefferson seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, 9 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

RESOLVED:

That the following recommendations are submitted to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for consideration during its March 26, 2013 Public Hearing on Applications 18503 and 18505 from Keystar Spring Place LLC, as per DC law, including DC Code Section 1-309.10(d)(3)(A).  We also ask for comment from the DC Department of Transportation and the Office of Planning, also as per DC law.

We reiterate our February 5, 2013 recommendations (attached). 

In addition, attached are the comments of the Board of Directors of the Cedar Crossing Association.  Cedar Crossing is a condominium community that backs up to the path that connects the to-be-built apartments to Cedar Street, NW.  Cedar Crossing residents are among the most impacted by this project. 

1. We agree with Cedar Crossings’ concerns with respect to their property and liability issues. 

As the Cedar Crossing letter notes, the developers’ promise to “facilitate the acquisition of all necessary easements” is vague and unenforceable.  It is DDOT’s obligation to facilitate negotiations to acquire easements to ensure ADA access and a transit-oriented project.  Moreover, the developers have no leverage or enforcement powers to obtain an easement in this case.

2.  We also agree with Cedar Crossing’s position that the developer, not the taxpayers, should pay for the entire cost of ensuring that the project is the genuinely transit-oriented development that is the basis for the variance request.  The developers, therefore, should assume all of the costs of constructing the ADA-accessible sidewalks that are needed to connect the project to Blair Road and all of the costs of constructing an ADA-accessible hiker/biker trail to connect Spring Place to Cedar Street. 

Simply building in close proximity to a mass transit station or a bus line and relying on the city to do the rest is not adequate. Without these basic design elements, the buildings are safely accessible only via automobile.  Giving a tenant a one-time Metro fare card or another item worth roughly $60 does not obviate the developers’ responsibility to provide safe access.

The developers state that they are providing a 4-foot-wide strip of land from their property along the front of their property to make a hiker/biker path that is 8-feet-wide. They recently agreed to add about one-half block of paving to connect the rest of Spring Place to Chestnut Street. 

We note also that the developers will save a considerable amount of money by building 36 fewer parking spaces than required.  The cost of these 36 spaces at $20,000 per space (a conservative estimate, according to national data) totals $720,000.  The developers own estimate of the cost of constructing the bike path is  $200,000 - $400,000 and the developers’ own estimate of the cost of paving from the Spring Place/Chestnut Street intersection to Blair Road is $20,000.  Therefore, by the developers’ own estimate, the maximum cost of providing a genuinely transit-oriented project is $420,000.  If the variance is granted and the developers required to build the sidewalks and the path, they would still save $300,000 or more over the cost of meeting the zoning requirements.

3.   We ask that the developer formally and in writing request that the Gables enter into an agreement to share parking spaces with Metro Village at an agreed-upon cost and we ask the developers to copy the Commission on the correspondence.

3)         Recommendation Vote to the Zoning Commission:  6000 New Hampshire Ave NE, application for Modification of Approved PUD and Special Exception for Adult Day Treatment Center (ZC-05-30C)

Mr. Michael Beidler, Trout Design, architect for the project, gave a presentation regarding the application for modification of their PUD and its present status after the Zoning Commission hearing and meetings with the community.  Following discussion and questions from the Commission and the public, Commissioner Jefferson moved that the Commission adopt a resolution supporting the application for modification.  Commissioner Parks seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, 9 yes, 0 no.

 

The adopted resolution:

 

WHEREAS:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (the Commission) has consulted extensively with both the community and Karajoel LLC (the Applicant), regarding the Applicant’s application for a modification of a Planned Unit Development at 6000 New Hampshire Ave N.E., and

WHEREAS:

The Commission and the community, through its neighborhood organizations, has studied these proposed modifications and hereby supports the proposed modification of this project,

 

 

RESOLVED:

That Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the application of Karajoel LLC for approval of a modification to an approved Planned Unit Development at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue N.E. for the following reasons, with one condition:

1.       The property was a modification for the small building to now be the site for an adult day treatment facility for the mentally challenged.  The Commission and the community now find this facility to be acceptable considering the changes recommended by the Zoning Commission (Zoning) at its hearing on February 21, 2013. Additionally, subsequently, the Applicant has agreed to incorporate said recommendations of Zoning into its final submission to Zoning scheduled for April 8, 2013.

2.         The Commission fully supports and is a party to all of the terms and conditions of the signed Memorandum of Approved Conditions (attached) between the Lamond-Riggs Community, Karajoel LLC, and Metro Homes. 

3.         The Commission’s support is conditioned upon the understanding that the Applicant will not now, or in the future, include any public charter school facility in its project, with particular reference to the DC VOICE EMPOWERMENT Public Charter School application to the DC Public Charter School Board, which identified the PUD at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue N.E. as the site for a school of 250 students.  The Commission notes that it has received written assurance from the Applicant that there is no such agreement between the applicant and the DC VOICE EMPOWERMENT PCS.

4.       As the Commission and the Community could not expressly know if Zoning had any objections to the Applicant’s motive for a modification due to “the extraordinary difficulty [the Applicant] has had in securing a residential developer for the smaller existing building,” before the hearing in February, the Commission and the community now know that this is an acceptable reason for Zoning to permit a modification to a PUD. 

5.         Additionally, the Commission and the community have received professional expertise from several D.C. government agencies and personnel, including Office of Planning staff, particularly, Karen Thomas and Zoning, comments from the committee of the whole at the February hearing. The information received clarified some of the issues and laws the Commission and the community had an unreadiness about.

6.       The current PUD is more in line with Comprehensive Plan Policy RCE-1.1.6: Development of New Housing, which states in part, “Encourage the retention of existing subsidized housing units within the Rock Creek East Planning Area, along with other measures to increase housing choices and improve housing affordability for area residents.” However, now that the larger applicant which is developing 73 townhouses and the 32 or so single family houses, which this small building was originally apart of, the community can more easily visualize the proximity of homes to the adult day care facility and feel that the lesser number of housing units is not as significant.

Overall, the Commission, working with the community, remains available and intends to have a constructive dialogue with the Applicant to resolve future plans and any amenities and/or community benefits that may be agreed upon for the two buildings.

4)         Reaffirmation of Resolution Regarding the Walter Reed Small Area Plan

Commissioner Green informed the Commission that Commissioner Wheeler would be testifying on behalf of the Commission at a hearing of the City Council on Tuesday March 26, 2013 regarding the Walter Reed Small Area Plan.  She moved that the Commission reaffirm the recommendations contained in Resolution R13-1004 regarding the Small Area Plan and the designation of Commissioner Wheeler to represent the Commission.  Commissioner Parks seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, 7 yes, 0 no.

 

The resolution adopted on October 22, 2012, reaffirmed:

 

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:

Ø  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: 

Ø  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. 

 

Ø  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: 

Ø  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.  

 

Ø  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.)

 

Ø  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.) 

 

Ø  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.

 

Ø  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.        

 

Ø  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: 

Ø  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.

 

Ø  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. 

 

Ø  noise reduction and abatement be considered throughout the process.

 

Transportation:

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

 

Ø  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: 

Ø  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:

Ø  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.

 

5)         Commissioner Wheeler moved that the Commission request that the Interim Use meeting regarding temporary uses of the Walter Reed site on April 2, 2013 be relocated from the Wilson Building downtown to a location in this community.  Commissioner Austin seconded the motion.  Following discussion, Commissioner Wheeler withdrew her motion.

 

Commissioner Austin moved that the Commission send a letter to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development urging that the April 2 meeting be postponed and relocated from the Wilson Building downtown to a location in Ward 4 near Walter Reed.  Commissioner Grant seconded the motion.  Following discussion, the motion was not adopted by show-of-hands vote, 1 yes, 5 no.

 

Community Concerns and Announcements

 

1)         Ms. Wanda Oates, ANC 4B05, expressed concern that there was no opportunity for the community to comment on or ask questions about meeting agenda items when they were under consideration.  She objected to having comments restricted to the community concerns section of the meeting.

 

2)         Minister Alfreda Chi Mauuso said that she had asked Commissioner Grant to call a single-member district meetings, but he told her he did not have to do it.  She also asked the Commission to correct the minutes of the January 28, 2013 meeting to accurately reflect what she said and what Commissioner Grant said in response.

 

3)         Jocelyn Johnson, 807 Tewkesbury Place NW, asked what the term of office for Commissioners is.  The answer was two years.  She asked how to get issues to the attention of the Chairperson of the Commission.  Commissioner Green suggested she call the Commission office to have issues directed to the appropriate Commissioner.  She also asked about the zoning of the neighborhood to permit multiple day-care facilities.  Commissioner Jones suggested that she could address her concerns through community associations like the Brightwood Community Association.

 

4)         Mr. Tyson asked if the Commission was going to take a position on the Large Retailer Accountability Act.  Commissioner Jefferson said that the Commission had taken a position on large big box stores in the city and on the living wage requirement in its resolution regarding WalMart (adopted June 27, 2011).  Commissioner Green stated that the issue could also be on the April 22, 2013 agenda.

 

5)         Mr. Wendell Jones, 528 Sheridan Street N.W., asked several questions:

1.         Why is another large apartment complex being built along the Metro (Spring Place) when there is no adequate room for such a building.  Commissioner Green said that the developer was allowed to do so by a matter of right.

2.         What can be done about excessive parking on Sheridan and other streets because of sports events at Coolidge High School, and because of residents who own five or six cars which they park on the street.  Commissioner Grant said that he had worked with the Department of Transportation and other agencies for years, and there was really nothing that could be done.

 

6)         Mr. Michael Sindram suggested that community concerns and comments should come first on the agenda.  He also suggested that ANC 4B publish a newsletter and provide food, donated from neighborhood businesses, at public meetings.  He urged the Commission to support the U.S. Post Office.

 

Presentations and Reports

 

1)         Officers from the 4th District Metropolitan Police Department gave a brief report on crime in ANC 4B and answered questions from the Commission and the public.

 

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

 

3)         A representative of D.C. Budget Autonomy Measure, gave a brief presentation on Referendum Eight to be voted on in the April 23, 2013 election to give the District of Columbia government budget autonomy from the U.S. Congress.

 

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

 

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

 

As of February 28, 2013 the Industrial Bank checking account balance was $8,504.89.

 

Balance – 1/31/13                                                    $  9,683.29

                                                                                   

Income – 2/1/13-2/28/13 (interest)                        $         0.35

 

Expenditures – 2/1/13-2/28/13                              $  1,178.75

 

Ending balance – 2/28/13                                                                          $8,504.89

 

 

The following checks were cashed between 2/1/13 and 2/28/13:

Date Cashed

 Name

Check #

Amount

Purpose

Meeting Approval Date

2/11/13

James H Irwin

4785

461.70

Staff wages

2013 budget

11/26/12

2/12/13

Konica Minolta

4782

81.09

Printing & Copying

2013 budget

11/26/12

2/13/13

Verizon

4784

39.99

Internet

2013 budget

11/26/12

2/13/13

Verizon

4783

109.27

Landline telephone

2013 budget

11/26/12

2/21/13

ANC Security Fund

4781

25.00

2013 ANC Security Fund Fee

1/28/13

2/22/13

James H. Irwin

4786

461.70

Staff wages

2013 budget

11/26/12

 

 

4)         Commissioner Jefferson, Secretary, presented the draft minutes for the February 25, 2013 regular public meeting.  Commissioner Parks moved that the minutes be approved.  Commissioner Grant seconded the motion.  Commissioner Wheeler asked that the minutes be corrected on page two, item four as follows:  “Commissioner Wheeler described the beginning of construction of Triangle Park and noted that the community had not been notified of the start date of construction, which began before the community was able to present their comments on the DPR park design.”

 

The minutes as corrected, were adopted unanimously by show-of-hands vote, 7 yes, 0 no.

 

Commissioner Austin inquired about the correction to the January 28, 2013 minutes requested by Minister Alfreda Chi Mauuso.  Commissioner Jefferson said that the minutes were not a verbatim transcript of everything said in the meeting, that audio tapes of meetings are on the ANC 4B website, and that anyone wanting to know what was said could listen to the tapes. 

 

For the record, Commissioner Green noted the presence of a quorum:  Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, Parks, Austin, Jefferson and Sloan.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 PM.