ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS
c/o Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
Minutes of ANC 3E January 12, 2012 Meeting
The meeting convened at 7:00pm.
Commissioners Bender, Frumin and, Sklover were present. Commissioner Quinn subsequently joined the meeting.
Vote on Contract for New Assistant
Commissioners unanimously approved the contract for a new staff assistant.
Announcements and Open Forum
Tom Smith from the Mayor’s office announced that Mayor Gray’s One City Summit would be held on February 11, 2012.
Consideration of Northwest Neighbors Village Grant Application
Commissioners unanimously approved a $5,000 grant to Northwest Neighbors Village. The application for the grant was presented at the Commission’s December meeting.
Discussion and Vote on DDOT Proposal to Replace Traffic Light at 46th and Yuma Sts., NW, with Four Way Stop Signs
DDOT occasioned this agenda item by notifying the Commission of its intent to replace the traffic light at 46th and Yuma with a four way stop sign. A resident who lives at the corner of 46th and Yuma Sts. presented her argument for this action. She said that 46th St. connects Massachusetts Ave. and River Rd. and a cut-through for commuters, and cars do not adhere to the 25 MPH speed limit. A four-block stretch of 46th St. has neither stop signs nor speed bumps, and cars speed down the street and speed up further to get through the yellow light in time, endangering children in the neighborhood, including her two young children. She pointed out that a four way stop would force all cars to stop at the intersection and slow traffic. Some attendees asserted that stop signs would lead to more speeding and failures to stop than the current light; one asked if a traffic surveillance camera could be installed, or speed bumps. Another resident who lives near the stoplight agreed that the stoplight should be replaced to improve safety.
A commissioner noted that the DDOT engineering study says it is no longer necessary to have a stoplight at the intersection because of the termination of the N8 bus line along Yuma St. as well as insufficient traffic volume. DDOT has proposed a flashing four-way red light at the intersection for a trial period of 90 days. If successful, DDOT will remove the electrical poles and install the four way stop signs. Commissioners discussed next steps, specifically a request that DDOT prepare traffic data during the 90-day test period. The commissioners unanimously approved to proceed with the 90-day pilot to test the flashing four-way red lights, review the DDOT traffic data, then re-evaluate and make a final decision whether to support replacement of the stop light with a four way stop sign.
Special Presentation by 2nd District Police Command Staff Regarding Recent Robberies and Police Response
Councilmember Cheh convened a special presentation by police officials to the ANC 3E meeting to address concerns about the recent spike in robberies and burglaries in northwest DC neighborhoods. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier, Second District Commander Michael Reese, Commander Criminal Investigations Division George Kucik, PSA Lieutenant Alan Hill, and Montgomery County Captain David Falcinelli attended. Local television stations taped the presentation.
Chief Lanier reported that while there was a 12% decrease in robberies at the end of 2011, a recent surge of robberies have occurred in upper northwest DC neighborhoods. As a general matter, robbers have lately focused on stealing small mobile electronic devices for sale on a thriving black market; iPods and iPhones are particularly popular. There have been at least seven armed robberies in Upper NW DC, most of them in ANC 3E’s jurisdiction, since the beginning of the year, however, and the robbers have not limited their attention to residents talking on iPhones or listening to iPods. There’s been a cluster of thefts from cars in the same areas. Commander Reese noted that thefts have been concentrated in PSA’s 201 and 202, often in the evening hours, and said that witnesses have reported the perpetrators as black males, one to three individuals who work as a team, often parking a car a block or two away, sometimes in an alley. The robbers often wear a ski mask or hood. One of the cars used by the robbers is described as a black 2-door Mitsubishi. The perpetrators have pulled up along residents in a car or have hidden in nearby bushes. These criminals are drawn to NW neighborhoods because, he said, “This environment is target-rich.”
Captain Falcinelli said that two robberies with similar MOs have occurred in Montgomery Co., in neighborhoods bordering Friendship Heights, DC in November and December 2011. One resident was robbed while walking down a dimly lit path; another time robbers were waiting behind a dumpster. Montgomery County police are working closely with DC police.
Concerns expressed by attendees included whether there is an adequate police presence in the neighborhoods; the pattern of robberies; if homes are being burglarized; retail thefts; thefts from autos; what should a resident do if they are being robbed and have nothing to give to perpetrators; whether Mace is legal; what resources are available to residents; and what residents can do to help improve their safety and stop the robberies.
One attendee said that a resident saw a car behaving suspiciously in his neighborhood and thought he saw a man throw a plastic gun into a trashcan. When he called 911 he said his concern was discounted. Another resident asked what the police plan to do differently to help stop the rash of robberies.
Commander Reese reported that police presence has been increased in the targeted neighborhoods, including marked car patrols and plains clothes officers. The police are trying to track electronic devices being fenced on the black market as well as tracking criminals released from prison. Perpetrators steal cars or steal car licenses and change cars quickly. Installing new and more modern mobile cameras in northwest neighborhoods will take time, as they are very expensive. Technology is being used along Military Rd. A brief discussion ensued about improving lighting on surface roads and dimly lit neighborhood streets, such as Jennifer St., Belt and Murdock Rds. Commercial retail thefts have increased as well. Chief Lanier said that 911 calls for suspicious person/activity would be given priority.
The officers offered advice, ideas and suggestions to neighborhood residents: Be aware of surroundings. Do not hesitate to call 911 if a resident sees anything suspicious or out of the ordinary, such as an idling car. Avoid walking in dimly lit areas. Hide mobile devices and do not leave devices or anything of value in cars. Get license numbers, the more specific the better. Give up property without a fight. Mace is legal in DC (though officers did not advocate its use against robbers armed with guns). Establish a neighborhood watch; Samantha Nolan assists in neighborhood watch trainings. If a resident gets an unsatisfactory response from 911, call the 2nd District Watch Commander: 202. 438. 4421. Sign up for the 2nd District listserv: MPDfirstname.lastname@example.org. The DC arrest report can be found at: MPDC.dc.gov. Councilmember Cheh invited residents to write her with ideas and suggestions to help make the neighborhood safer.
Presentation by Clark Realty Capital Regarding Development of Tenleytown Safeway at 42nd and Ellicott, Sts., NW
Representatives of the project present included John Sunter of Clark Realty Capital, Architect John Torti of Torti Gallas and Partners, and Avis Black of Safeway.
Architect John Torti presented the current design for the mixed-use redevelopment at the Safeway site on 42nd and Ellicott Sts. The plans call for a Safeway that is smaller than Georgetown and Bethesda stores but includes the building of approximately 200 new housing units, including 14 townhouses and 181 to 185 apartments on five residential levels above the store, both single and multiple room dwellings. The current store is 35,000 square feet and will be expanded to 58,000 square feet. The people most impacted by the redevelopment are those living in nearby townhouses and residents of Ellicott St. The redevelopment project sits between two Metro stops and is surrounded by a residential neighborhood. Precedents for the design include a Washington, D.C. project on Connecticut Ave. and another in Florida, where the garage is hidden behind townhouses and sheltered from view. The plan includes an open service court for truck loading and liner townhouses. The redevelopment plan pushes the height of the structure toward Wisconsin Ave, 75 feet in height on 42nd Street. The building is stepped and increases in height towards 42nd St. The Safeway store will be at street level on 42nd Street with a pedestrian entrance in the current location, and cars will drive into a garage. On Davenport St., truck loading goes straight into the below grade open service court which will have a sound-resistant wall. Residents will not see truck movements as the service court is set a lower level. The design calls for the elimination of a section of 42nd St. that immediately parallels Wisconsin Ave.
Attendees expressed concerns about increased traffic and difficulty parking in the surrounding neighborhood and the density of the housing units. Mr. Torti said 42nd St. has a right of way of 90 feet, cars will enter and exit the new redevelopment in two different ways, and that pedestrians have been separated from cars. An attendee asked how long construction noise would affect the surrounding neighborhood and Mr. Torti responded that the building of the new site is projected to take approximately 18 months to 2 years. In response to a question about the timeline for the project, Mr. Torti said it will take 9 months to obtain the PUD, another 9 months to draw up the construction documents, and groundbreaking is slated for summer 2013. The Office of Planning did not support redevelopment plans for a single use store, Avis Black said.
Some attendees voiced their excitement about the project.
Commissioners asked a series of questions to project representatives. Those questions included upcoming traffic studies, noise from the trucks on the service court, water runoff, LEED certification, and if the egress is located on 42nd St. A commissioner asked when the PUD would be filed and Mr. Torti said the PUD would be filed in two to three months. A commissioner asked if project leaders would consider eliminating the top residential floor of the structure, and whether the service court could be covered; and expressed the need to underground utilities. A commissioner said that while the mixed-use plan is welcome overall, he would welcome a reduction in the density of the housing units as well as adding other retail outlets to the storefront to increase the vibrancy of the neighborhood and create a pedestrian focal point. He asked whether the Safeway store could be lowered one level and undergrounded, modeled after Whole Foods in Tenleytown and Friendship Heights. The idea of prohibiting tenants from obtaining RPP’s was briefly discussed, with several commissioners supporting the idea.
Safeway project representatives invited community members to attend an open meeting to discuss the redevelopment plans further and in more depth. The meeting will be held Jan. 18, 7:30 to 9pm at St. Mary’s Church.
Discussion and Vote on Application to Install Driveway at 3835 Harrison Ave., NW
A ownerof 3835 Harrison Ave., NW presented his request for approval of a curb cut to build a driveway for a new home. The commissioners requested that the owner commit to using a pervious surface for the driveway and that he survey his immediate neighbors on both sides for their approval. The Commissioners approved the application on a 3 to 1 vote, and asked that the property owner solicit the opinion of adjacent neighbors.
Presentation by Douglas Development Regarding Development of Babe’s Billiard’s Site at Wisconsin and Brandywine Sts., NW
Paul Millstein of Douglas Development presented the plans for the redevelopment of the Babe’s Billiard’s site at 4600 Wisconsin Ave. The design calls for 18,000 square feet of retail space on the first two floors and five residential levels above, 12 units per floor with 60 units total. There will be a “green” or gardened roof and the streetscape will include a fountain. The first floor will house a restaurant such as Matchbox or Ted’s Bulletin, with outside seating, while three or four retailers will occupy the second retail floor. Douglas Development representatives also sketched a proposal for extensive streetscape renovations, including undergrounding nearby utility lines, that the company had prepared at the request of Commissioners. The current design calls for no on site parking for the residences or businesses located in the building.
An attendee expressed concern about the service bay and asked if there is room for trucks to enter and exit the site. Other questions included concerns over traffic and parking for both building residents and shoppers. Mr. Millstein made clear that at the request of commissioners, Douglas Development would take such steps as are necessary to ensure that tenants may not obtain residential parking permits (RPPs), and that it would contract with Cityline and Whole Foods to provide limited offsite parking.
Commissioners discussed with the redevelopment representatives whether utilities could be undergrounded and if validated parking at nearby lots could be provided to accommodate shoppers at the retail stores. A commissioner asked about LEED certification, RPP exclusion, and whether any other amenities could be offered to the community, such as a retail agreement. Commissioners asserted that the project could jump start street life and commerce along that stretch of Wisconsin Avenue. Most commissioners expressed support for the project given the benefits it likely would confer on the neighborhood and the steps the developer proposed taking to minimize negative impacts. The developers hope to submit a PUD application shortly, and commissioners said that if this was the case, they might be able to vote on the proposal at their March meeting.
Commissioners unanimously tabled the election of officers.
Commissioners unanimously approved the issuing of checks in the amounts of $4.71 and $200.00 to Diana Winthrop, 375.13 to Matt Frumin, $5000.00 to the Northwest Neighbors Village and 25.00 to the ANC Security Fund.
Commissioners unanimously approved October, November and December 2011 monthly Treasurer’s Reports.
Commissioners unanimously directed that a letter be sent to the DC auditor concerning withholding of funds for checks issued with only one signature.
Commissioners unanimously approved the Security Fund Resolution.
Commissioners unanimously approved the schedule of meetings for 2012 to be held on the second Thursday of each month, with the August date tentative.
The meeting adjourned at 12 midnight.