Clash Over Rear Addition at ANC 6C

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C met on Nov. 8 via WebEx. Commissioners Christy Kwan (6C01), Leslie Merkle (6C02, secretary), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04, chair), Joel Kelty (6C05, treasurer), Patricia Eguino (6C06) and Tony Goodman (6C07, vice chair) were in attendance.

Elisabeth Kidder and Daniel Spurlock have applied to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for special exception relief from the rear addition and lot occupancy requirements for their home at 425 Fourth St. NE. The couple plans to construct a three-story with cellar rear addition to an existing attached two-story principal dwelling unit to add additional bedrooms for their children and an in-law suite in the basement for their growing family.

Nearby homeowners expressed concern about the scale of the project and its impact on their residences. They are worried about  privacy, light exposure, historic preservation and public safety.

The proposed addition will permanently alter airflow and their family’s use and enjoyment of the upstairs deck and the lower patio, stated neighbors Andy and Lynn Seymour. These two outdoor spaces were a “primary” factor in their decision to purchase their home, Seymour added. “We use this space constantly,” he said. “It is like an extension of the interior of the house.”

Due to its scale, sunlight will also be limited by this project, said Carbery School resident Monica Gonzales. There is also a potential public safety implications of fire truck accessibility due to its far extension back, she said.

“People care about the character of the neighborhood and those that really love it think that it should stay the way it is,” another neighbor said.

Neighborhood residents “made a very deliberate decision to live in a historic neighborhood where drastic changes wouldn’t be made to the homes,” said one Commissioner.

Commissioner Goodman expressed his sympathy as well. However, the request for relief was not out of the ordinary, he pointed out. “Being in a historic district does not mean that things don’t change,” he observed said. “It means that when things are changed, it’s a thoughtful change.”

The commission voted four to three to support the homeowner’s application and authorized Commissioner Eckenwiler to serve as a witness in the Dec. 20 hearing.

Other Matters
The commission voted to:

  • support a permit application for an outdoor dining space at Chopsmith, 300 M St. NE;
  • support a BZA application for a modest rear addition to a residential property located at 648 Acker Pl. NE;
  • support a BZA application for a rear addition and a carport to a residential property located at 107 Sixth St. NE;
  • appeal a construction permit issued for 622 I St. NE to construct a single apartment building across two recorded lots and authorize Commissioner Eckenwiler to represent the commission;
  • write to the Department of General Services (DGS) asking its Director to accept the transfer of Reservation 315, a parklet located at Fifth & I Streets NE, from the National Park Service (NPS) to the District;
  • write to the District objecting to commercial use of residential properties due to their adverse impacts of traffic, trash, illegal parking and loading, damage to neighborhood cohesiveness and loss of tax revenue.

ANC 6C will next meet on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. via WebEx. Visit anc6c.org to learn more about the commission and register to attend the meeting.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.