The length of the agenda at the September 11th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B exceeded the time allotted. Matters not addressed at that meeting, including discussion about parking on Seventh Street SE, the treasurer’s report, and a resident member nomination in Single Member District (SMD) 6B09 were discussed at a concluding meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. September 26, after press time.
The quorum on September 11th: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Jerry Sroufe (6B02), James Loots (6B03, Parliamentarian), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04, secretary), Steve Hagedorn (6B05), Nick Burger (6B06, treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, vice-chair), Daniel Ridge (6B09, Chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
Citizen-Assisted Trash Infraction Reporting Program
Department of Health (DOH) Program Manager for Rodent and Vector Control Gerard Brown appeared to announce that the Citizen-Assisted Enforcement Program was now open to District residents.
Last year, Brown worked together with the two Co-Chairs of the ANC 6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force (OCSTF) Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) and then-Commissioner Diane Hoskins (6B02) to pilot the program. Brown said the new supervisor for code enforcement is now able to handle the increase in workload that could accompany the expansion.
The program is designed to address problems with commercial trash infractions, especially those concerning overflowing or poorly secured commercial trash bins that take place outside DOH business hours. Brown said many of these are emptied in the early morning hours by private contractors, before the workday begins for the Code Enforcement Officers who would observe the violation and issue a ticket and fine.
The program allows residents to take date-timed photos of the infractions and send them in to DOH, who can then determine if they should issue an infraction and fine of up to $500. Residents doing so would have to be willing to volunteer as a witness if there is an appeal that leads to a hearing on the issue.
Documentation and questions can be sent to Jermaine Matthews, Supervisor of DOH Code Enforcement Division at [email protected]
Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee
The commission heard an application from The Orchid Restaurant (520 Eighth St. SE) to convert their license from a Class C Restaurant License to a Tavern License. Food sales have only accounted for 15 percent of the restaurant’s sales over the last three months, according to Daniel Hernandez, Director of Operations for Hill Restaurant Group, which runs the Orchid and seven other establishments in the area. A restaurant license requires food to account for 45 percent of sales.
A tavern license class ‘C’ permits the sale of spirits, wine and beer and may have recorded music and a dance floor or live entertainment (with an endorsement). A tavern license may be transferred along with the sale of a business. DC Code specifically states that ABRA will consider the potential adverse effects of such a license on nearby residential neighborhoods.
Hernandez said the restaurant would keep the kitchen open and that Orchid would not be applying for permission to have live entertainment.
Residents opposed the conversion, saying that a tavern license would create a bar or club on Eighth Street, resulting in drunk persons littering or urinating in their front yards and tree boxes.
ANC 6B has worked to oppose or limit tavern licenses in the past. The Commission passed a motion requesting that the hearing in front of the Alcohol and Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) be delayed to October 22 to allow sufficient time to meet with neighbors and to construct a settlement agreement with the ANC, and that the applicant send a message to ABRA making the request. The motion carried 9-0 with one abstention.
Planning and Zoning Committee
The Planning and Zoning Committee heard a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application for a variance to construct a third-story addition and convert the existing principal dwelling unit at 1347 G St. SE.
The property concerned is 1000 square feet and the existing lot coverage is 77%, making expansion in any direction but up difficult. 16 neighbors wrote letters in support of the application.
The applicant had been in conversation with neighbors subsequent to the P&Z meeting and had considered ANC recommendations on the exterior finish of the addition.
The case was supported 7-1-2.
400 block of New Jersey Avenue SE
The ANC then heard two cases in regard to construction plans on the 400 block of New Jersey Avenue SE. Last year, a Political Action Committee (PAC) attempted to purchase a townhouse on that block and convert the zoning from residential to commercial in order to use it as offices. Fearing the address would be used as event space, residents of that block mobilized and hired legal representation to prevent the sale and the rezoning of the property. That coalition of residents still actively monitors activity on their block.
The first case concerned a BZA application to construct a roof deck and stair case on a single-family home at 433 New Jersey Ave. SE. The applicants sought a special exemption because the staircase would increase the building footprint past the percentage of lot occupancy permitted by right.
Neighbors were concerned that the rooftop deck would be used for events, or that it could be used for events if the house were sold in the future. They also expressed concern about the potential for noise from gatherings on the deck, and about visibility of the new deck from the street.
The architect pointed out that the deck was centered on the rooftop, and was virtually invisible at street level. He said an exterior staircase was chosen over interior access due to space limitations inside the home. The applicants stated that the rooftop deck was for their own private use, and commissioners noted that the construction made it unlikely for use as event space, as the staircase would be difficult to insure for use at events. The application was supported 8-0 with 2 abstentions.
The second case heard on the same block was an application by the National Democratic Club for renewal of a Historic Preservation Office (HPO) concept approval for a three-story building at 411 New Jersey Ave. SE.
The plans for the building had been approved by both ANC 6B and the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) two years ago, but the club could not afford construction in the intervening years. The applicant sought renewal of the design approval to keep the concept alive, in case they should either come into sufficient funds to build or find a buyer for the lot. The building would still require BZA approval for several variances, said architect Allison Prince.
Neighbors objected to the building, saying that they had received no notice about the building now or two years ago when the original application was submitted. They noted that the building would be located on a residential block and that although clubs were permitted there by right, they were fighting to keep the area residential and would fight variance applications ‘tooth and nail.’
Prince noted that because the lot bordered railway tracks, a residential sale would be difficult, but that the building design might facilitate the sale of a multi-dwelling residential building.
A motion to oppose the application failed 4-5, with one abstention. A motion to take no position, leaving the decision entirely to the discretion of HPRB, passed 7-3.
710 E Street SE
The ANC heard a Historic Preservation Application for a concept design for a three-story rear addition to an existing two-story house at 710 E St. SE. The building would be brick-clad to match the existing house with double-hung windows along the side. The building would require a proposed conversion from commercial use to an apartment building.
The PZE committee approved the addition but added that they would support further efforts to differentiate the structure from the historic structure.
The case was moved from the consent calendar to discuss resident concerns voiced after the PZE meeting, especially with the easement at the rear of the lot that allows neighbors access to the rear of their property. Residents at the meeting voicing concern said that the applicant had not reached out to them about the project.
Architect Martin Sullivan said the addition would not encroach on the easement at all. Currently, the easement is 7 feet, and Sullivan said that because construction would not go to the easement line, access space would be 8 foot 6 inches.
Amidst lively discussion about the easement and the appearance of the building, the ANC moved to request that HPRB defer consideration of the application until after the next meeting of ANC 6B. The motion carried 9-0-0.
The ANC supported a letter presented by Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) asking that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) reconsider traffic calming measures they have planned at 11th and C Streets SE. The letter was supported unanimously.
The September meeting of ANC 6B concluded on September 26, 2018. A report is available online at www.hillrag.com.
The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 9 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit anc6b.org for more info, or find @ANC6B on Twitter.