December 8, 2016, 7:30 pm
The meeting convened at 7:37 PM. Commissioners Bender, Hall, McHugh, Quinn and Wallace were present.
Announcements / Open Forum– opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
An attendee asked about the timetable for completing the contra-flow bike lane along 41st and obtaining a stop sign in the north-bound lane on 41st St at the intersection with Chesapeake Street. Commissioner Quinn replied that he has asked DDOT for a stop sign, bulbouts and/or better lighting at that intersection three times, and it was denied each time. He will continue to press DDOT for those safety measures.
Another attendee requested residential parking signs around the River Rd/45th St/Fessenden intersection and asked Lt. Hill to investigate trucks driving down Fessenden Street at excessive speeds late at night and excessive panhandling at the Tenleytown CVS and Library.
Commissioner Bender announced that Valor Development has requested a later hearing date for their Design Review request at the Superfresh location because, among other things, they need more time to complete their traffic plan. As such, they have been removed from tonight’s agenda and will present their traffic plan to the Commission later.
Commissioner McHugh announced that the earlier announced agenda item regarding the AU Community Liaison Committee (CLC) was removed from the agenda. The Ward Circle reconfiguration plans will be presented to the Commission at a later meeting after DDOT clarifies the available options.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
Lt. Hill from the 2nd District provided an update on crime trends in the area. Hill stated that burglaries have dropped in PSAs 201, 202 and 203 with the arrests of suspects by PG County Police. Those suspects are also wanted for thefts from retail stores in the area. Lt Hill discussed the events at Comet Ping Pong on December 4th. He stated that police were on the scene within 5-6 minutes of the 911 calls being placed. Commissioner Bender stated that based on the chatter on Twitter from conspiracy theorists, he believed a threat still existed to safety at Comet and an officer should be posted on that block during business hours. Lt. Hill said that is now the case and the police are also dedicating resources to other businesses in the area that have been affected by online threats.
Attendees asked questions regarding the private security camera system reimbursement program; the procedures for getting “No Through Trucks” signs posted in the area (contact DDOT as they maintain the database of the streets in which trucks can travel); and enforcement of jaywalking violations between Chevy Chase Pavilion and Mazza Gallerie. Commissioner Quinn asked for enforcement of rush hour traffic regulations on Wisconsin Ave in Friendship Heights. Lt. Hill reminded the audience that if you witness a crime or see something suspicious call 911. For any other questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding special exception application for side and rear yard lot requirement relief at 4831 Alton Street
The homeowners of the above property, the Mirkows, would like to replace their single car garage with a two-story accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that would include storage and living spaces. They are seeking side and rear yard setback relief for the ADU. Neighbors immediately adjacent to the Mirkows oppose the application as they believe the unit would create privacy issues, shade their yards, be out of character with the neighborhood, and set a precedent for additional ADUs in the neighborhood. In response, the Mirkows had shadow studies produced to show the effects of this structure on their neighbor’s yard, are willing to put frosted windows on the east side of the structure to provide privacy to the neighbors, use a flat roof to reduce massing, add rain barrels and additional landscaping to their yard.
Commissioner Bender noted that Commissioners worked hard with the neighbors to seek a mutually-agreeable compromise. Because none could be found, the Commissioners needed to decide what changes, if any, would enable the Commissioners, exercising their best judgment, either not to oppose or to support the application. Commissioner Hall prepared a draft resolution under which the Commission would not oppose the application provided specified conditions were met. If the neighbors can agree to a compromise, the Commission would upgrade the resolution to say that they affirmatively support the ADU. Commissioners offered minor amendments to the draft resolution. Commissioner Hall moved and Commissioner Wallace seconded a motion to approve the resolution as amended. The motion was approved 5-0-0.
Presentation by Urban Investment Partners (UIP) regarding redevelopment proposal for 4620-24 Wisconsin Ave, including traffic management and discussion of and possible action regarding setdown hearing for developer’s application
Commissioner Bender began by noting that this is the first time the Zoning Commission asked the ANC to comment on whether an application is complete enough to be considered for a setdown hearing. Once the application is setdown, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the application’s merits. Bender suggested the Commission not take any action on the setdown question. UIP expects to have a hearing on the merits in the spring, and the Commission intends to opine on UIP’s application for that hearing.
An attendee, who has asked the same question at prior meetings, asked Commissioners Bender and Wallace to recuse themselves from discussing or voting on UIP’s PUD application because Mr. Brooke Katzen, Senior Vice President of UIP, sits on the board of Tenleytown Main Street (TMS) along with Commissioners Bender and Wallace. Commissioner Wallace stated that she spoke with the DC Board of Ethics which conveyed that it is not a conflict of interest to vote on an issue involving an organization with which another TMS Board Member is involved. She did note that the Board of Ethics determined that it was a conflict of interest for her to participate in prior TMS grant application decisions and she will recuse herself from voting on them in the future and Commissioner Bender noted that he had not participated in prior TMS grant application decisions.
Mr. Katzen presented UIP’s latest design for a Planned Unit Development at 4620-4624 Wisconsin Ave. The mixed-use building will have approximately 12,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 135 apartments. They will be re-using the parking garage which contains 74 spaces (58 will be designated for residential parking spaces and 16 for commercial use). UIP is asking for a map amendment from MU-4 to MU-7 zoning. Detailed plans can be found at www.broadcastdc.com. Katzen presented a proposed community benefits package that includes obtaining LEED Gold certification for the property, burying the electrical lines in front of the building, allocating 4% of housing at 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) and 4% at 50% of AMI; renovating the Chesapeake House, providing some access to the rooftop facilities to the neighborhood and not allowing residents of the building to obtain residential parking permits (RPP).
The results of the traffic study were presented. Vehicular traffic will access the building through the alley behind the building. They are providing more parking spaces than required and they believe trips to and from the building will be reduced over current use because office buildings generate more trips than residential building. They did identify two intersections with queuing problems: Brandywine St & Wisconsin Ave and Brandywine St & River Rd.
Questions were asked about residents parking further out in the neighborhood; if parking spaces are rented out separate from the apartments; the height of the building; existing and future retail tenants; the mix of apartments; vehicular traffic utilizing the east west alley north of the building; and the scope of the traffic study and the exclusion of River Rd, Albemarle St from the study. One attendee noted that while two intersections were identified as having queuing problems, UIP did not offer any traffic calming solutions.
Commissioners discussed the height of the building; were pleased with UIP’s efforts to renovate Chesapeake House; suggested UIP implement some of the traffic-calming suggestions made in the Rock Creek Livability Study; and thought the amenities list was promising but could be improved upon. They asked questions about the FAR calculations; the feasibility of making Brandywine between River Rd and Wisconsin Ave a 2-way street; UIP’s willingness to sign a retail agreement with the ANC; undergrounding the utilities to the corner of Chesapeake; adding additional lighting around the site; providing Zip Car spaces and electric car charging stations; and if they could provide 8% of the housing units at 60% AMI.
- Approval of November 2016 meeting minutes – Commissioner Hall moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve the November 2016 meeting minutes. The motion was approved 5-0-0.
- Approval of expenditures – Commissioner Quinn moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve payments of $356.25 to Sherry Cohen for administrative support and $23.60 for copying. The expenditures were approved 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:11 PM.