Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

Resolution on 7051 Spring Place, NW  -- HPA #11-518

Two 5-Story Apartment Buildings, 140 Units Total

Adopted In A Unanimous Show-Of-Hands Vote on October 24, 2011



WHEREAS, ANC 4B supports the goal of providing attractive multi-family and affordable housing on Spring Place, NW that is also compatible architecturally with the adjacent historic homes on Chestnut Street and provides adequate transitions and buffers to homes;


Whereas, a compatible and sensitive design is essential for the protection of the adjacent Chestnut Street Victorian homes which are contributing resources in the Takoma Park Historic District, and Chestnut Street includes some of the oldest homes in the District;


Whereas, the revisions to the original proposal were not shared with the community or the adjacent and most affected residents until five days before ANC 4B’s recommendation vote, and it is clear that more revisions are necessary before submittal to HPRB; 


Whereas, the developers agreed to provide a balloon study to show the visual impact of proposed building heights on the adjacent historic homes but has not yet had time to do so.


Whereas, we understand that HPRB does not consider traffic issues in its decision-making, but a trafffic study is underway, but not completed, and its results may affect the project’s design.  We note that many residents, the most affected property owners, and two independent, local and well-qualified architects,  David Hamilton and James Russell (CV and statements attached), state there are significant traffic concerns.


Whereas, it is the opinion of Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Russell and other residents and adjacent property owners that the proposed design should be revised to be compatible with the predominant architectural character of Takoma’s historic and recently built single-family and multi-family homes such as the Gables Apartments and the Watkins Apartments and the Watkins addition;


And whereas Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Russell note that appropriate designs should include brick and stone, particularly along Spring Street and that the windows and other elements should include distinctive features to add character and detail to the façade.  And whereas Mr. Hamilton states that the more visually successful of those projects utilized red or reddish brown brick.


Whereas, ANC 4B strongly believes that affordable multi-family housing can and should provide gradual transitions and adequate screening; that it can and should provide quality materials and workmanship; that other nearby affordable projects -- such as the brick and siding senior citizens’ apartments on North Capitol Street and Riggs Road, built by Plymouth Congregational Church -- are an excellent example of a handsome and high-quality affordable housing project that blends with the community;


Whereas, the proposed Spring Place design should provide the “gradual transitions” in scale and height between the proposed 80-unit multi-family Phase II building and the adjacent historic single-family homes (contributing resources) on Chestnut Street, as per Policy UD-2.2.4, in the Comprehensive Plan For The National Capital;


And whereas, Dreck Wilson, a landscape architect and a neighbor (statement attached), and others have concerns about the effectiveness of the landscaping plan and the screening proposed for the rear yards of the Chestnut Street homes, and there are concerns that some of the significant and mature trees on the developers’ property may not be preserved;


If the developer is making revisions we thank him for doing so.  However, the community and the most affected property owners need time to review revisions and the balloon and traffic studies.  Therefore, because of the significant changes that are needed, we ask that HPRB hear the case again and not turn it over to staff, giving ANC 4B adequate opportunity to review and comment. 


If this is not possible, we ask that HPRB not approve the proposal at this time.


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 Sara Green to present these recommendations to government agencies and panels.