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Commission Supports Second Story Addition

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held a hybrid meeting via Zoom and in-person at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE on April 8. Frank Avery (6B01, treasurer); Jerry Sroufe (6B02); David Sobelsohn (6B03, secretary); Frank D’Andrea (6B04); Chander Jayaraman (6B06, vice chair); Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08, Chair); and Matt LaFortune (6B09) were present, either online or in the room. Kasie Durkit (6B05) was not present.

The owner of 633 E St. SE asked the commission to support an application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to add a second story to an existing warehouse located on an alley lot behind his home as part of a residential conversion of that property.

The building is currently 17 ½ feet in height. However, the addition would exceed the 20-foot matter of right height requirement.

At their March meeting, the commission’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Committee supported the applicant’s Historic Preservation Application (HPA) as part of their consent agenda.

Commissioners’ concerns largely centered on the preservation of the warehouse’s historic cement roof. Without zoning relief, the applicant would be forced to remove the historic structure. However, the absence of a second floor, the applicant stated, makes it difficult to create private and code-compliant bedrooms on the ground floor, the owner stated.

Neighbors raised concerns about addition’s impacts on the light and privacy of adjoining residences. At its April 4 meeting, the ANC P&Z Committee concluded those impacts, while not non-existent, would be minor. Conditions were met to grant the variance. The committee advised the applicant to have additional conversations with the neighbors. He had contacted all the neighbors, but only a handful reached out to him, the applicant stated. The neighbors, disagreeing, characterized his efforts as minimal.

There was a fundamental impasse between neighbors that could not be resolved through discussion, stated Commissioner D’Andrea. “From my point of view, what the applicant is doing is not unlike many other projects that we have approved, so I think it would be not fair to say to them, they are causing an [undue] impact,” he said.

The commission voted 5 to 3 to support the BZA application.

Councilmember Allen Talks Budget
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) briefed commissioners on the District’s FY25 budget. The DC Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) interpretation of District budgetary requirements for its reserves is at variance from both Mayor Bowser and DC Council, Allen said. The dispute has delayed the process two weeks as the mayor figures out how to cut an additional $250 million from the budget to replenish a reserve fund.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a budget as hurtful as the one we have in front of us,” stated Allen.

The proposed budget cuts 200 employees at DC Public Schools, eliminates the DC Circulator, reduces the Pay Equity Fund, which increases income for early childhood educators, and cuts funds to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), Allen stated.

The mayor’s proposal leans on lower income workers to shoulder the burden and council is working to address some of these concerns, Allen stated. Agency directors are looking for ways to tighten their budgets, such as by eliminating vacant and extraneous positions, he said.

On the bright side, the budget provides for public safety investments including pathways to additional Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers and fills the hole in WMATA funding, Allen stated. The District’s Capital Budget had been preserved, he said, including funding for all planned Ward 6 school modernizations and the renovations of Southeast Library and William Rumsey Aquatic Center.

In Other Business
The commission deferred consideration of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for Alley Closing in Square 762 as negotiations are still ongoing. An agreement will likely be presented to the Committee in May.

ANC 6B next meets in-person (700 Penn Ave. SE) and via Zoom at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14. ANC 6B usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Find details at anc6b.org

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