Commission Seeks Resident Views on Pot and Crime

ANC 6C Report

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All six members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C were present at the Dec. 11 meeting: Christine Healey (6C01, secretary), Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04, vice chair), Joel Kelty (6C05, treasurer) and Drew Courtney (6C06).

Marijuana Issues
Commissioner Kelty is looking for resident views on activity that he said is linked to marijuana distribution by businesses on the H Street corridor. “It’s causing craziness on H Street, it’s hurting our businesses and it’s having an adverse effect on our residents,” Kelty said. During the meeting he pointed to scenes from his own experience. He said that a few weeks prior to the meeting, he was walking on the 800 block of H Street NE when he saw a man with a digital scale weighing what he estimated to be at least a quarter ounce of weed in the middle of the street. He also referenced what he called a “full-on” gun battle on the 500 block of H Street NE earlier this year.

Acknowledging that voters had chosen to decriminalize possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, Kelty said he still wondered if the current situation was what the voters had in mind.

At the meeting, Tyler Williams, Ward 6 liaison from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services (MOCRS), said that while the possession and use of marijuana by adults has been legal in the District for four years, a rider from the congressional appropriations committee prohibits the District from spending money to legalize pot. That means that the District cannot regulate or tax marijuana sales, leading to what Kelty called a grey market in the District.

Kelty said that he wanted to assess residents’ views before engaging with District government and agencies to look for a way to regulate the situation, pointing to the potential roles of the zoning code in dictating the location of businesses selling marijuana-related products or enforcement actions from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).

Residents who want to share their views should email Kelty at [email protected].

Union Station
The commission authorized written testimony in regard to the significant expansion of Union Station that is currently in the planning stages. The matter is expected to come up at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Jan. 9.

The testimony will express the commission’s concern about the scale and impact of plans in the area, as well as concerns about a proposed renovation to the Union Station parking garage. Transportation and Public Space (TPS) Committee Chair Christy Kwan said that plans presented at a Nov. 19 meeting of stakeholders, called by developers, appear to indicate a potential 50% drop in the number of parking spots in the station garage despite a proposed increase in height to six floors.

The testimony will note the concerns about the garage, as well as reiterating concerns already expressed about the project by the ANC. In November, the commission voted to send a letter to the DC Council, the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM), the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) and the developers to ask the District to take a leadership role to facilitate coordination between the projects as well as community involvement.

The Union Station expansion is happening at the same time that planning has begun on a new neighborhood called Burnham Place at Union Station, a three-million-square-foot development that will be built over the Union Station railyard.

Kwan said that Commissioners Adelstein and Courtney met with Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who has sent a letter to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Mayor Muriel Bowser to elevate the concerns of commissioners.

Consent Agenda
Commissioners voted to support items on the consent agenda, including:

  • Protest an application for a restaurant and full-serve restaurant liquor license for Menomale NOMA (35 N St. NE) to pursue a settlement agreement.
  • Support an application for renewal of the liquor license for Gilly Goat Tavern (500 New Jersey Ave. NW).
  • Support a modification of significance to a consolidated planned unit development (PUD) at 901 H St. NE in order to allow veterinary hospital use within ground-floor retail space, including grooming but not overnight boarding
  • Support a public space application for a 13-floor apartment building at 40 Patterson St. NE. The application includes cement-covered utility boxes and a curb cut. The committee requested that the applicant add two parking spots for loading and unloading and ride-share use, which the applicant has done.
  • Support a public space application from NBC News for 400 North Capitol St. NW, including 16 bollards and landscaping to integrate bollards into the streetscape.
  • Support conversion of a mechanical penthouse at 50 F St. NW into a communal lounge and entertainment area. There will be a small expansion to the penthouse footprint. The support is conditional on the applicant’s promise there will be no amplified music outdoors.

Other Business
The commission voted to:

  • Send a letter to the District Office of Planning, the mayor and the DC Council in support of a request from ANC 4D to extend the deadline for comment on proposed changes to the District Comprehensive Plan to 45 days for an ANC and 60 days for the public. The current deadline is Jan. 31, 2020. The ANC committees have systematically been working through proposed changes and will vote on all the recommendations at once.
  • Support an appeal to the Board of Zoning Adjustment challenging a certificate of occupancy issued for 337 H St. NE. Eckenwiler said he believed it was in violation of zoning regulations, specifically the floor area ratio (FAR) for non-residential use.
  • Send written testimony on the Department of Buildings Establishment Act of 2019. The act died in 2018 but was reintroduced this year and had a hearing before the Committee of the Whole on Dec. 10. The bill would separate DCRA into two agencies, one to deal with construction and housing, the other to issue and monitor business activity and provide mechanisms to increase accountability and decrease the potential for political influence on senior roles.
  • Ask the applicant for a District Department of Transportation (DDOT) public space construction permit at 1212 Sixth St. NE to reappear before the ANC TPS Committee to provide more details about plans. Commissioners were concerned about the lack of detail in the drawings, noting that an interior garage the applicant had discussed at the committee meeting was not shown in the drawings. They also expressed concern about the height of the retaining wall and fence. Kelty requested that the applicants bring a ground-floor plan and a cross-section of the site, as well as a rendering of the building from the Sixth Street NE perspective.

ANC 6C meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month (except August) in the ground-floor conference room at the Heritage Foundation (214 Massachusetts Ave. NE). The next meeting of ANC 6C takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Learn more at www.anc6c.org.