All members were present at the Sept. 9 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C, held via Webex: Christine Healey (6C01, secretary), Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04, vice chair), Joel Kelty (6C05, treasurer) and Drew Courtney (6C06).
At the Sept. 9 meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to approve a motion to reallocate unused funds from the current fiscal year for use in grantmaking as well as to double the amount for COVID-19-related grantmaking in the FY2021 ANC budget from $15,000 to $30,000.
By the end of the meeting, ANC 6C had awarded a total of $15,000 in grants for the current fiscal year, voting to allocate $3,500 to Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School for supplies and $7,500 to Everyone Home DC, a nonprofit that works to prevent homelessness.
“We had programmed a fair amount of money for purchase of service, specifically for sign language interpretation,” said Kelty, who proposed the motions. “We haven’t needed to use that. I would like to reprogram and I make a motion to reprogram $4,000 for that line item to the grants line item to fund some proposed grants that we’ll be discussing.”
Kelty emphasized the importance of using the remaining funds before the end of the fiscal year to help local community organizations. “If we don’t spend the money it goes back to the treasury, and I think the DC government is a less good steward of your money than we are,” Kelty told attendees. “I’m proposing that we dramatically increase [our] grants budget for next year to $15,000, of which we’ve only spent $7,328.”
Grant making by ANCs is normally limited by strict regulations that limit what and whom can be funded. In the spring, the District Office of ANCs (OANC) sent a memo to commissioners saying that many restrictions to grant-making were temporarily lifted due to the COVID emergency to encourage ANCs to help residents through the emergency.
Healey said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic there was an increased need for grant funding. “It’s a big jump,” Healey said of the increase to the Grants Committee budget. “But it’s also the case that the restrictions pre-COVID were very tight and made it very difficult to find appropriate grants, and now we have a situation in which there are great needs around the city, and we have more flexibility to address those needs.”
Hearing on Five-Unit Conversion Deferred
The ANC voted to send a letter to support the deferral of a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing on an application for special exemption to convert an existing row house into a five-unit apartment at 622 I St. NE, including a three-bedroom affordable unit. The applicant has requested a deferral, from the original hearing date of Oct. 7, to Oct. 21, after the October meeting of ANC 6C to allow for further discussion.
Plans call for the addition of a third story, filling in a dogleg, expanding the rear of the structure and adding a cellar. The applicant will construct a new alley-facing structure toward the rear of the property that will be connected to the existing structure. The applicant, VBS Construction, requested a waiver to conversion regulations in order to permit the building to extend more than 10 feet past the furthest rear wall of any adjoining principal residential building on adjacent property. The application also required a variance to the lot occupancy requirements.
Eckenwiler said that the committee’s general position on the proposed construction and the BZA regulations was that it “does not comply with regulations” on alterations regarding rooftop architectural elements, and the new construction’s adverse effects on light and air to surrounding properties was “fatal” to the application.
While Kelty said he supported increasing the access and availability of affordable housing, he also expressed concern about what the project means for neighborhood residents, especially allowing the exemption, which would amount to an 11-foot wall along the neighboring property.
“We have zoning regulations to protect and to create a coherent, consistent neighborhood where people have some assurance that they’re going to be able to live in a neighborhood that has a certain character and feeling to it,” Kelty said. “This thing flies in the face of all this, this proposal fundamentally conflicts with the very regulation from which they’re requiring relief.”
Courtney said he supports the motion to delay the hearing but also had concerns about the ANC’s role in affordable housing. “I would in no way say that there aren’t impacts to building this stuff. But we are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis,” he said. “I think we need to take seriously whether our ANC is a help or a hindrance to building affordable housing.”
Games of Skill
Commissioners unanimously supported a motion to protest the application of Allure Lounge (711 H St. NE) and Bar Elena (414 H St. NE) to the Alcohol and Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a substantial change, adding games of skill to their license provisions in pursuit of a settlement agreement.
“I don’t think that there is going to be just a few establishments in our neighborhood that are going to be requesting,” said Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee Chair Steve O’Neal. “I think it’s going to be a much broader trend, especially as places are trying to figure out how to maintain their revenue. So, if it allows an establishment to keep their doors open, that might be something that we could be in favor of.”
O’Neal said if ANC members and the ABL committee can work together to develop a protest strategy and policy, they will likely have ample time to negotiate.
Commissioners also voted to:
- Send two letters to the Federal Railroad Administration regarding potential problems with the new infrastructure plan for Union Station. The commissioners are seeking increased capacity for bicycle accommodation and creation of public spaces to enhance the quality of life of individuals in the area. The motion passed unanimously.
- Support modifications made to a public space application at the Logan School (215 G St. NE) to include one-way circulation through the parking lot, remove a 42-inch fence and add more bike racks.
- Support a revised historic preservation application at 312 Third St. NE for a two-story rear addition. The applicant has support from the neighbors.
Courtney addressed ongoing concerns about the homeless encampments around the District that have increased during the summer months. Courtney encouraged residents to reach out to him for more information about what is being done.
ANC 6C usually meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month in the ground floor conference room at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The next meeting of ANC 6C is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 14. ANC 6C is meeting via Webex. For the most up-to-date information, visit anc6c.org.
Sarah Payne is a student at the University of Michigan and is on the staff of the student newspaper. She is interning with the Hill Rag. You can reach her at [email protected].