Debate Over Small Cell Technology

ANC 6D Report - June 2019

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D met on May 13. Commissioners Gail Fast (6D01, Chair), Ronald Collins (6D03, Treasurer), Andy Litsky (6D04, Vice Chair), Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06, Secretary), Edward Daniels (6D07), Anna Forgie (6D02) and Anthony Dale (6D05) were on the dais.

Representatives from Verizon and AT&T briefed the commission on their plans for the deployment of small cell technology in ANC 6D. The new antennas, they stated, are needed to address existing cellular capacity issues and lay the groundwork for future 5G networks. (See: https://www.hillrag.com/2018/11/09/thousands-of-small-cell-antennae-to-be-installed-in-district/ for more details.) Their plans have been approved by the DC Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Public Space Community (PSC) and the DC Public Service Commission (DCPSC).

DDOT PSC has approved installations on wooden utility poles, dedicated freestanding poles and cobra-style streetlights. There is no approved design for globe streetlights commonly found in historic districts. The telecoms await DDOT permits to begin installation, which should take between three and twelve months. Each antenna, they stated, would take approximately five days to install.

Commission Hamilton questioned the representatives closely on their compliance with federal health and safety regulations. Other commissioners shared her concerns. The representatives stated that the new antennas were not a threat to public health.

Appletree PCS
Chair Fast proposed the commission send a letter to the DC Charter School Board (DCCSB) in support of the request by DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Jefferson Parent Teacher Organization (Jefferson PTO) that Appletree Public Charter School vacate the parking lot on the southern side of the Jefferson Middle School campus by July 31, 2019. The missive also requests DCCSB to aid Appletree’s search for an alternative Southwest location. Both DCPS and Jefferson PTO are concerned that the school’s continued occupancy of the space will significantly impact the delivery date for a modernized Jefferson Middle School.

While affirming concerns about any delays to Jefferson’s modernization, Commissioner Dale expressed his concern that the primarily lower income African-American families served by Appletree would not have the resources to cope with moving their children to another school. Commissioner Hamilton echoed his concerns

Chair Fast replied, who serves as a member of the school’s School Improvement Team (SIT), stated that Appletree must move to accommodate utility work. Any continued residency would significantly delay modernization.

Appletree CEO and President Jack McCarthy informed the commission that the school has signed leases at 475 School Street SW and 1000 Fourth St. SW. However, neither location will be ready for the next school year. The school had asked DCPS last February for a reprieve for one year.

The commission voted three in favor, one against the motion with two abstentions.

Other Matters
The commission was briefed by representatives from Akridge on the concept for a public pier at the end of First Street SW. The new facility would serve water taxis from the Potomac Riverboat Company. They are not asking for restaurant space on the pier. Akridge is seeking conceptual approval from DDOT’s PSC on June 27 and awaiting comments from the Army Corps of Engineers for an application filed last December. The commission voted to send a letter in support of the project.

A motion offered by Commissioner Dale to rescind last month’s vote on the closing of Half Street and Potomac Avenue SW. This type of action requires five votes. It failed to pass with only three commissioners voting in favor.

Cecelia Lane from the DC Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) briefed the commission on the agency’s plan to deep till the Amidon Recreational Field to increase ground water retention. The project will go as deep as 24 inches. The project commences on June 24 and will be finished by the end of July.

Developer Mark Sussman briefed the commission on the “How’s My Driving” app. This software allows smartphone users to notify DDOT of traffic safety violations such as cars illegally parked in “No Parking” zones. The software is currently being beta tested by 1,200 users. Sussman and his partners are negotiating with city agencies to integrate District systems with the app to aid enforcement. For more information, visit hmdapp.io.

The commission received a presentation on the job of the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Ombudsman.

MPD Captain Jonathan Dorrough briefed the commission on public safety. Property crime has fallen to normal levels, he said. Commissioners urged him to ticket illegal cars parked under the highway bridge next to The Fish Market.

The commission received an update from DDOT on the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and First Street SE. A study of the intersection concluded that a light was not warranted, the DDOT representative stated. A light in this location would create substantial traffic backups, he said. Commissioners Daniels and Forgie strongly disagreed, pointing to the intersection record of accidents.

Rikki Kramer, vice chair of The Near SW/SE Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) briefed the commission on the status of the community benefits agreement between DC United. The agreement was moving forward, she stated.

The commission supported a CR license with a sidewalk café and community agreement for The Gatsby at 1201 Half St. SE with Commissioner Dale abstaining.

The commission unanimously to:

  • approve the June agenda and minutes;
  • send a letter to DDOT to create a No Parking zone out of three legal and two illegal parking spaces next to the Velocity Condos at 1025 First St. SE;
  • supported a permanent and a stipulated CX license with an entertainment endorsement and a community agreement for the tall ship Providence;
  • supported a permanent and stipulate CT license with an entertainment endorsement and a community agreement for the Sandlot Southwest, 1800 Half St. SW.
  • to protest the CR application for Mary, 2100 Second St. SW, unless the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Agency (ABRA) grants the applicant a 30-day extension;
  • to require a community agreement be incorporated in all future liquor licenses as a matter of commission rules.

ANC 6D’s next meeting will be held on July15 at 7 p.m. at 1100 Fourth St. SW. Visit www.anc6d.org for more information.