December 14, 2017, 7:30 pm
The meeting convened at 7:44 PM. Commissioners Bender (arrived late because of family emergency), Ehrhardt, Hall, McHugh and Quinn attended.
Announcements / Open Forum– opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
Ian Maggard, the Ward 3 Liaison to the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations invited the community to the join the Mayor in the Fresh Start 5k on January 1 from 10 am – 1 pm. Participation is free.
Ricardo Guerra from Mary Cheh’s office announced a Chat with Cheh event at the Avalon Theater on December 16 from 11:30 am – 1 pm.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
Lt. Hill from the 2nd District provided an update on crime trends in the area over the last 30 days. There was one Armed Robbery at the Jimmy Johns on Wisconsin Ave and two Burglaries. Thefts are down in the retail corridor due to increased staffing at the stores. There were 11 thefts from autos and two stolen vehicles (one of which was a scooter). There has been an increase in thefts from lockers at the Wilson Pool.
One attendee asked how the MPD is implementing the Near Act and asked for the Near Act to be an agenda item at a future meeting. Commissioners asked if the MPD could provide a visible presence in the shopping areas and for additional traffic and parking enforcement. Lt Hill reminded attendees they could email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information on any incidents that occur in the neighborhood. He also encouraged residents to join the 2nd District MPD Listserv.
Update from Washington Gas on pipeline work in the neighborhood
Dwanda Glenn-Woodward gave an update on the Washington Gas work in the community. Washington Gas has a 40-year plan to replace the gas lines in the District. There have been three projects in our area. One replacement project was recently completed on Wisconsin Ave. The ongoing projects, one around Brandywine St and the other near 49th St and Massachusetts Ave, are expected to be completed in the 1st quarter in 2018. There is an interactive map online to check on a project’s status.
An attendee asked about a project at 45th and Harrison Streets. Commissioners: noted that the staging area on 51st St is blocking one side of the street and cars are allowed to park on the other side of the street, makes it difficult for cars to drive up the street; asked if Washington Gas could provide the Commission notice in advance of new projects so the community could be notified via the Listserves and the Commission’s website; and asked about improved accommodations for pedestrians when sidewalks are closed off for construction.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding application to occupy public space for the purpose of driveway and sidewalk paving at 5001 38th Street, NW
Commissioner Bender stated that we received notice of a project to replace an existing driveway and sidewalk but was not sure if the Commission actually needed to opine, as replacement projects did not usually require ANC input. Representatives of the property owners stated that initially DDOT misread the application and thought the owners were looking to install a new parking pad, and the representatives do not believe ANC input is required Bender stated that the Commission will not consider the item at this meeting but asked the property owners to request a postponement in their hearing if it turns out DDOT requires ANC input. Commissioner Quinn asked for clarification on where the driveway leads to and if there was any part of the public space use that was illegal or grandfathered in that would require the Commission to weigh in. The Commission took no action.
Presentation of updated plans by Sunrise Senior Living to build an assisted living facility next to the Wisconsin Ave Baptist Church in conjunction with expansion and renovation of the church
Reverend Bergfalk stated the Wisconsin Ave Baptist Church is selling property to Sunrise Senior Living. As part of the payment for the property, Sunrise will pay for the construction of the new combined church/assisted living building which will be shared in a condominium relationship. Sunrise will pay property taxes on its share of the space. Phil Kroskin of Sunrise presented the updated plans in which the courtyard to the rear of the building opened up. This reduces the lot occupancy from 69% to 63%, the size of the building by 9000 sq. ft., and removes 9 units. The redesigned building is eight feet closer to the adjacent homes. Robert Schiesel from Gorove Slade stated the traffic associated with this building is within the margin of error compared to the current traffic levels in the surrounding neighborhood. They expect less than 10 ambulances trips per month and 6-7 deliveries per week (not including USPS/FedEx/UPS). Sunrise is working with the NPS regarding the improvement of the Ft Circle Parks around the property. Once these plans have been finalized, they will be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and then to the National Capital Planning Commission. Sunrise will install all of the landscaping and hardscaping within the plans and maintain part of the space in perpetuity.
In order to construct this building, Sunrise will be asking for two variances (lot occupancy and the ability to build four stories) and three special exceptions (for the use of the building, the height of the retaining wall, and the number of parking spaces). Zoning regulations require 95 parking spaces for this project. Proximity to a Metro would usually allow them to halve the number of parking spaces provided but buildings in an R district are not allowed to halve the spaces. Sunrise will ask for a special exception to provide 54 parking spaces. Churches are allowed to occupy 60% of the lot while other uses are allowed 40% lot occupancy. Sunrise has asked the zoning administrator for guidance on how to apply the lot occupancy maximums in this case but has not received a response.
Attendees asked how many people will live in the facility and what percentage of the property will Sunrise be paying taxes on. Many attendees thought this facility was too large, too tall and too far into the residential area, surrounded by single family homes. One attendee who lives in a home adjacent to the church was concerned about how the construction would affect her children’s ability to play in their yard. An attendee stated he hoped to see a larger buffer between his home and the building and was disappointed that it would actually be closer to the adjoining properties. Others stated they did not like a for-profit facility operating on the site. One attendee requested that the community be given notice for all conversations between any Commissioner and any representative of WABC/Sunrise and that the conversations be recorded.
Commissioners asked: for clarification about the height of the building; how many for-profit and non-profit beds assisted living beds there are in the District; and about pervious surfaces and water retention. Various Commissioners: had a lot of concerns about the project including the lot occupancy and the height and placement of the church steeple over the assisted living beds; stated they would like Sunrise to meet the commercial building requirements even if they are not required to; and stated they should seek a high level of LEED certification to offset the lot occupancy variance request. The Commissioners stated that while they understood many of the neighbors were upset with the project, they were troubled by the lack of civility among those in attendance.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding application by Valor Development for design review by the DC Zoning Commission for permission to build a mixed-use project at the former Superfresh site
Commissioner Bender opened by stating that the Commission and the Applicant still have not finalized the agreement and plan to hold a special meeting on December 21 to vote on the resolution on this project and memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Commission and Valor Development.
Will Lansing of Valor Development gave an overview. The project will include: 16,000 sq. ft. of retail including a Balducci’s grocery store; café seating outside the grocery store; a series of courtyards around the building including Windom walk; a cleaned up the alley behind the Spring Valley Shopping Center; a HAWK light across Massachusetts Ave by Millie’s; 10% affordable housing (about 22 units); and a commitment to obtain LEED Silver certification. Valor will build a total of 370 parking spaces (236 parking spaces will be to satisfy the American University covenant; Valor will lease back 180 of those spaces) – 224 parking spaces will be allotted for residential use, 90 spaces will be for the grocery store, and 56 spaces will be for use by American University.
Attendees asked questions regarding: the width of the alley; why the vote on the resolution is being delayed; whether there would be a discussion at the special meeting; nature and contents of the MOU; how Balducci’s can be considered a full-service grocery store; if there were any discussions regarding Wagshal’s renting the space; if Valor would provide a Capital Bike share dock; the lease between American University and Valor the parking spaces; a shuttle to the Metro; the shadow study; how any agreement between the Commission and Valor would be enforced; and if the MOU could be posted ahead of special meeting so that neighbors could review it. An attendee stated that the project is too large, too dense, will create too much traffic and change the character of the neighborhood. Another stated that he would rather see a Harris Teeter on the site. One attendee did not believe the project met the criteria for a design review.
Various Commissioners stated they: would like to see more affordable housing units; would like to see parking on Yuma and 48th Streets to slow down cars cutting through the neighborhood; liked the plans for the alley behind the Spring Valley Shopping Center; believed this is a good site for the project but conceded it was not a perfect one; stated they just received DDOT’s traffic report but didn’t have time to review it in detail; did not believe the public space amenities were strong enough; noted Valor is not asking for a lot of relief; thought the plans were a large improvement over the original design; would like to see an agreement to install curb extensions added to the MOU; would like to see more traffic calming measures in plans; asked if Valor could install mature landscaping; asked if the remaining utilities could be undergrounded; and liked the HAWK signal. Most Commissioners were not happy with the selection of Balducci’s as the grocer, although one was happy with the choice. Some did opine that Wegman’s plans to put a store at the Fannie Mae site limited the choices available for selecting a grocery chain at the Superfresh site.
Presentation of plans for mixed-use redevelopment of Dancing Crab/Tenley Gastropub lots on 41 St
Carlos and May-May Horcasitas would like to build a 7-story, 41-unit building that will require minor relief in place of the Dancing Crab and Tenley Gastropub buildings. They are asking for a PUD and map amendment from MU-4 to MU-5 (the site is zoned for medium density residential use and moderate density commercial). They plan on maintaining a restaurant on the main level with residential units above and a bar/lounge at the roof top level that will be run by the restaurant. Parking will be on the second floor and both parking and loading will be accessed from alley at the rear of the building. The project will have three affordable housing units; one 1-bedroom and two 2-bedroom units. Currently, the project will obtain LEED gold certification.
A building this size is required to provide 10 parking spaces and they will only have 9. They are required to have a 30-foot loading berth but the plans provide a 20-foot berth. They will need relief on the minimum size of the PUD (the minimum size for a PUD is 15,000 sq. ft.; this project is 6800 sq. ft.). They also need an exception for the rooftop bar/lounge. The amenity package they proposed might include: 12% affordable housing at 60% of AMI with some 50%; LEED Gold certification; solar on the roof; enhanced public space with greenery; two electric vehicle parking spaces; RPP parking restrictions; and providing support to Friendship Place. They are open to community input on the amenity package and intend to file their application at the end of January.
Attendees asked if: these are apartments not condos; they would restrict their residents from obtaining residential parking privileges; they could support the Wilson pool, the Wilson fields, Ft Reno and/or the Chesapeake House as part of their amenity package; and about the parking lot next door.
Commissioners: asked for clarification for the MU-4 allowances; asked if they can green the side or front of the building; thought this was a good spot for development; thought the bar/lounge will be very popular; liked the idea of them supporting the Wilson pool; would like them to try to slow down the cars coming off of Wisconsin Ave onto 41st St, possibly by seeking to install cobblestones; encouraged them to try to reach LEED Platinum certification; asked why they are not planning for the building to be 90-feet as would be allowed under MU-5; asked how the restaurant will connect to the roof; if there will be a parking space for a zip car; asked if they could underground the pole in front of the building;; applauded their efforts for affordable housing; thought there are too many small apartments.
- Approval of November 2017 meeting minutes – Commissioner Hall moved and Commissioner Ehrhardt seconded a motion to approve the November 9, 2017 Meeting Minutes. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of November 2017 meeting minutes – Commissioner Hall moved and Commissioner Ehrhardt seconded a motion to approve the November 20, 2017 Meeting Minutes. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- 2017 4th Quarter Quarterly report – Commissioner Quinn moved and Commissioner Bender seconded. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of expenditures – Commissioner Quinn moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve payments of $33.00 to FedEx for copying services and $525.00 to Sherry Cohen and $33.28 for copying costs and for $1750 to Mighty Little Web Shop for the final payment for the website design. The expenditures were approved 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:14 PM by unanimous consent.