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Home​NewsOne More Meeting to Decide if Pacci's Moves Into Top Floor

One More Meeting to Decide if Pacci’s Moves Into Top Floor

There’s still one more meeting before you can dine at the top of Pacci’s (106 13th St. SE).

On April 10, the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) decided to defer their final vote so that they could hear from Pacci’s. But it looks like everyone involved in the case –BZA, the Office of Planning (OP) and the applicant themselves are ready to wrap it up.

BZA said they were ready to support the expansion of the restaurant to the upper floor —but with conditions. The three proposed conditions would apply to the top floor only. They include limiting second-floor occupancy to 60 seats (the number proposed by the applicant), ending service at 11 p.m., and a 10-year term limit on the order.

The last would mean the upper floor would be zoned for restaurant use until 2034, at which point it would revert to residential zoning. That is intended to prevent the use from continuing under an operator who might have a less positive relationship with the neighborhood.

The deferral gives Pacci’s and their representatives a chance to comment on the proposed conditions.

This case has been in process since December 2023. Multiple BZA members have said this is the most challenging type of adjustment to get, because the use variance is “basically the highest bar we have.”

Pacci’s attorney Marty Sullivan explained that, in order to grant the variance, BZA has to be convinced that making residential work in the building creates an “exceptional and undue hardship”; that it won’t go against the intent of zoning regulations; and that changes are not detrimental to the public.

A straw poll of the BZA members at a March 6 meeting had indicated that most members were opposed to the application.

After that, many neighbors came out in support of the expansion, with more than 1200 signing on to a letter of support sent to BZA by Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) on March 12. In the face of support, at their March 13 meeting the BZA decided to defer the final vote until April 10 to give the applicant time to submit additional information requested by the board.

In response to the new information, on March 29, the District Office of Planning (OP) filed a document with the BZA that supports the restaurant’s application.

In light of the new OP position, Board members said they were convinced that the restaurant had a case for the adjustment, though “not a strong case,” as at least three commissioners said April 10.

The four BZA Commissioners who spoke April 10 said they would support the application with the conditions. But, they said, they want to protect the intent of the zoning code.

“The intent of the zoning regulations is not to expand nonconforming use,” said Commissioner Chrishaun Smith. “The intent is for nonconforming use to go away.”

“Kudos to the neighbors for advocating for this restaurant,” Smith added. “But the regulations are the regulations.”

The BZA will hold a “limited scope hearing at the May 1 meeting, meaning discussion will be focused on the potential conditions of the order. The additional meeting is intended as an opportunity for Pacci’s to comment on the conditions.

“If I were the applicant, I would say yes to everything and make it very easy,” said BZA Chair Fred Hill, “because getting the other members of the board to agree to this was not easy.”

Shortly after the case was discussed, Pacci’s owner Spiro Gioldasis told the Hill Rag he was ready to do just that. “I agree to all of this,” he said of the conditions in principle.

Trash collection is currently three days a week, he said, but when the upper floor is opened, he will go to five days a week collection. As for the hour limitations, Gioldasis said they line up with his regular operations in both Silver Spring and Capitol Hill. “My restaurants never operate after 11 p.m.,” he said. “It’s a family restaurant.”

The limited hearing takes place beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 1. You can watch the April 10 hearing here. Learn more about the BZA and see their calendar at dcoz.dc.gov

Learn more about Pacci’s Capitol Hill at their website www.paccistrattoria.com/location/capitol-hill

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