Dealing With Modern Materials on Historic Buildings

Current ANC boundaries. Image: OP

The use of modern materials on historic projects came up in two matters considered by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B at their Feb. 15 meeting. The commission voted to support a Permit Review (appeal) for an Historic Preservation Application (HPA) to replace existing non-historic aluminum siding on the front of a house at 528 Fourth Street SE with fiber cement siding, popularly know as Hardie board. However, the application was rejected as “unhistoric” by the Historic Preservation Office (HPO). 

The applicant pointed out that the preferred material, old-growth wood, is prohibitively expensive and that newer Hardie siding actually has a similar appearance. In their letter of support, the ANC highlighted that this is a case of a non-historic material replacing a non-historical material. They asked HPO to review guidelines and codify fiber cement siding as an acceptable choice.

Request for Guidance 

Hardie siding was again discussed when commissioners voted to support a Board of Zoning (BZA) for a Special Exception to construct a two story, rear addition for an existing, attached, two-story with basement and principal dwelling unit at 739 12th St. SE. The resident is looking to expand living space to meet the requirements for fostering children as well as to deal with persistent water infiltration issues. The plan is to add a 25-foot addition, the entirety of which would extend past the house to the north and require 15 feet of relief. 

The same project has an HPA, and the ANC asked the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for guidance in terms of material use on the rear of buildings and noted that the lack of sun studies made it difficult to determine impact on neighbor’s light. Commissioner Oldenburg expressed concerns about the vinyl siding proposed for the rear, noting most projects in the historic district use horizontal Hardie board at the rear.

Support for Two-Story Garage and Deck

The commission voted 4-2 with two abstentions to support a BZA application for special exception from lot occupancy and rear yard requirements to construct a two-story accessory garage with roof deck. The structure would be at the rear of an existing three-story home at 745 Tenth St. SE. 

The architect argued that the proposed structure was not unusual for the area, showing photos of the varied nature of the alley including some two-story accessory buildings. Appearing at the meeting, the property owner said she needed more living space and said adding a deck in the rear of the house is the only spot that gets sun due to the three-story apartment building just to the south.  She also described privacy concerns, as the residents of the apartment were able to look down into her yard. 

The owners and a tenant of that apartment building voiced their opposition, citing privacy concerns as the roof deck would nearly be on the same level as one of the rear decks and people on the roof deck would be able to look into the back windows. They also voiced issues around the cumulative impacts of two two-story accessory buildings abutting their rear yard. 

The ANC Voted to Support:

• A letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Directors of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) requesting that improvements to the south side of Garfield Park begin in the next few months. The letter notes that although funds have been committed to these improvements, work has been delayed for years despite needed structural and safety improvements.

• A letter to DC Council asking that encampments located at 11th Street SE near the I-695 and the Third Street Tunnel be added to the CARE Program, which provides accelerated access to permanent housing for encampment residents. The program began in late 2021 with a pilot program targeting three encampments, none located in ANC 6B.

• A letter to DDOT and DC Council asking that funding for construction on the Penn-Potomac intersection be included in the FY23 budget. Engineering designs for the project are 90% percent complete and undergoing an internal review expected to conclude by May 2022. A construction budget of $20 million was requested for FY23 but may be deferred to FY24, delaying the start of construction

• Testimony to DC Council for the Feb. 18 DC Council DDOT Oversight hearing on the topic of the Southeast Boulevard and Barney Circle Project. Transportation Committee Chair Kirsten Oldenburg will testify. The ANC sees the project as an opportunity to transform 18 undeveloped acres into a new urban space with equitable access to the Anacostia River. The commission has been working with DDOT on the renovation, asking them to redesign the area to allow for more equitable multi-modal vehicles and establish a few blocks on the site of a neighborhood demolished in the 1960s. The ANC will ask Council to encourage DDOT to release the draft Environmental Assessment and to ensure funding to complete the EA in FY23.

• Changes to ANC bylaws that would allow resident members to be appointed at regular meetings throughout the year, rather than only at the February meeting, with all terms ending the following February regardless of the month they are appointed; to explicitly allow for two members of the commission to co-chair a task force; and to formally add the Transportation Committee as a standing committee.

In Other Matters

The ANC voted to reinstate all standing committees and task forces, re-electing the current chairs. They also voted for the appointment of ANC 6B Resident Members:

1. Floyd Brown – Transportation Committee [6B01]

2. Lauren Freedman – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B01]

3. Kevin Morarity – Transportation Committee [6B02]

4. Katherine Szafran – Alcohol Beverage Control Committee [6B03]

5. Gerardo Mijares-Shafai – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B03]

6. Brian Kirrane – Transportation Committee [6B03]

7. Ellen Opper-Weiner – Alcohol Beverage Control Committee [6B05]

8. Ken Jarboe – Planning and Zoning Committee[6B05]

9. Raman Santra – Alcohol Beverage Control Committee [6B06] – New Nomination/Returning RM (previously RM for 6B08 – 2019-2020)

10. Ryan Danks – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B06]

11. Matt LaFortune – Transportation Committee [6B06] – New Nomination

12. Bill Ferguson – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B07] – New Nomination

13. Stefan Katz – Transportation Committee [6B07]

14. Chander Jayaraman – Alcohol Beverage Control Committee [6B08]

15. Amanda Thomas – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B08]

16. Carol Grissom – Transportation Committee [6B08]

17. Ryan Fochler – Alcohol Beverage Control Committee [6B09]

18. Daniel Garry – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B09]

19. John Ten Hoeve – Transportation Committee [6B09]

20. Francis Campbell – Planning and Zoning Committee [6B10]

Attending were Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Brian Ready (6B03), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06), Edward Ryder (6B07) and Alison Horn (6B09). Commissioners Denise Krepp (6B10) and Peter Wright (6B08) were unable to attend.

ANC 6B will hold the next meeting of the full commission virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2022. Get up to date information on meetings at