ANC Supports Name Changes for Brent and Tyler

July Report: ANC 6B

164
At the July 14th meeting of ANC 6B, held via Webex, Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06) sketched on this Google Map image to show areas along the Anacostia Riverfront that are the focus of a rezoning discussion. Screenshot/Google Maps via Webex]

“The values of the community are something to be cherished and appreciated, and as part of that there are aspects of our history with which we need to wrestle,” said Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06), introducing a resolution that asks the DC Council to change the names of John Tyler Elementary (1001 G St. SE) and Robert Brent Elementary School (301 North Carolina Ave. SE) at the July 14th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B.

The resolution also supports school communities in a process of changing the names of John Tyler Elementary (1001 G St. SE) and Robert Brent Elementary School (301 North Carolina Ave. SE) and requests that DC Council advance a bill calling for the Mayor to establish an advisory commission to systematically review controversial markets, places and place names “that are seen as oppressive and inconsistent with District of Columbia Values.”

The commission split the resolution into two, with unanimous support given to the resolution in favor of moving forward on the advisory commission. It asks council to advance Bill B23-0234, introduced April 2, 2019 to require the Mayor to establish a body that would study monuments, markers and symbols and make recommendations on places and place names. Although a public hearing on the bill was held in January of this year, it stalled before reaching the Committee of the Whole for markup.

There was discussion on the resolution calling for renaming the two Capitol Hill schools, which passed by a vote of 5-2, with one abstention. Calling the case for changing the name of Tyler, a school named for former President John Tyler, a slaveholder later buried under the flag of the Confederacy a ‘slam dunk’, one parent argued that the case against Robert Brent was less clear.

Brent was the first Mayor of Washington DC serving from 1802-1811. He led the city when DC Council passed legislation restricting the movement of non-white citizens in public space, including a requirement to carry identification as well as a curfew. Some commissioners argued that more needed to be known about Brent himself and whether the legislation came from Brent or the Council.

Others argued that the ANC should leave this decision to the school communities, only weighing in on the matter of the legislation to create the commission.

Support Granted for COVID Work
The commission voted to support grants to two organizations providing COVID-19 related humanitarian relief. $5,000 was granted to Shirley’s Place (1338 G St. SE), the daily drop-in center operated by Everyone Home DC, a nonprofit working to assist those experiencing homelessness. The funds will be used to purchase brand-new winter clothing. The organization would usually distribute donated items but is moving to newly purchased goods to avoid transmitting the Covid-19.

A grant of not more than $15,000 was also designated for Serve Your City DC (SYC DC), the Hill-based nonprofit anchoring the Ward 6 Mutual Aid Efforts. The organization will use the funds to purchase food, cleaning supplies, PPE and other necessities for families suffering during the public health crisis. The grant will also support the purchase and refurbishment of devices and internet hotspots for students to use while distance learning, as well as cover transportation costs as SYC DC collects items from donation spots and transports them to storage or to families.

Support NOI to Rezone
Commissioners supported a Notice of Intent (NOI) to file a Map Amendment for Reservation 344-D, colloquially known as ‘Boathouse Row’ from unzoned land to a MU-11 designation. The area includes the Anacostia River waterfront adjacent to the 11th Street Bridge, with a focus on the portion at the base of the triangle formed by 11th Street SE and the Southeast Freeway. A 45-day notice to property owners is required before an application to amend the zoning map can be submitted.

ANC 6B has been engaged in informal discussion with the Office of Planning (OP) in regard to a larger vision for the waterfront, linked to discussions begun a year earlier about the need for a new location for a District heliport and the potential for zoning to interrupt use of the land for that purpose.

The lease is set to expire on the South Capitol Heliport (1724 South Capitol St. SE) and ANC 6B has known since August 2019 that operator Congressional Aviation (CA) is looking for a new heliport site. District officials told ANC 6B that they expected CA to suggest the former DC Gas Light Company’s East Station at 12th and Water Streets SE, but that no commitment had been made.

Holman said that the NOI was prompted by a notice that both he and 11th Street Bridge Park Director Scott Kratz had received from the OP Neighborhood Planner for Ward 6 on July 14th. Holman described the notice as saying “that he [the planner] is no longer allowed to speak about this project, and to refer all questions to the City Administrator, which to Scott and I signaled that they are moving forward with this project.”

If the property remains unzoned, Holman said, the Zoning Commission can pass a text amendment allowing heliport use, which the ANC would then have no authority to oppose. If the area is zoned MU-11, construction of a heliport would require a variance, allowing the ANC standing in the case.

The ANC voted to support:

  • A Board of Zoning Amendment (BZA) application for a second story addition to an existing alley building at the rear of 203 Third St. SE. The applicant wishes to renovate and add a second story to a garage structure in order to use it as a primary residence. The application includes a rooftop deck. The commission had reviewed the Historic Preservation Application (HPA) multiple times in 2019 and delayed a hearing of the BZA in June to hear from neighbors in opposition to the project on grounds of privacy concerns. The rooftop patio will look down into the rear yard of the adjacent Third Street Property. The applicant has offered to erect privacy screening, but the neighbor argued this would compromise air and light. The commission voted to support special exemption to side yard and alley centerline setback requirements, as well as an area variance for conversion of a substandard tax lot to an alley lot on the condition that the applicant record a covenant ensuring the property is designated residential for a minimum of 15 years, as well as on the condition that privacy screening be utilized.
  • A letter requesting the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) delay the hearing of an application to add a second story to an existing building at 419 Eighth St. SE. The applicant was out of town during the commission’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting and requested a deferral until the September meeting.

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, ANC 6B held the July meeting of the full commission on Tuesday, July 14th virtually via Webex with a quorum of six commissioners. Appearing were Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, Secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, Chair), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06, Treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07, Parliamentarian), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, Vice-Chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10). ANC 6B09 is currently vacant.

ANCs do not meet in August. The next meeting of ANC 6B is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 8. For the most up-to-date information on meetings and how to join a virtual meeting via Webex, visit anc6b.org.

ANC 6B has been working to update its website. You can visit the new site, learn about Commissioners and committees, and subscribe to the newsletter by visiting anc6b.org or connect with the commission via email at [email protected] or find @ANC6B on Twitter.