ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK
c/o Lisner Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
Minutes of ANC 3E July 11, 2013 Meeting
The meeting convened at 7:42pm. Commissioners Bender, Frumin, and Quinn were present. Commissioner Serebin arrived at approximately 7:50pm.
Announcements / Open Forum – opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
A resident of 4832 Western Avenue, NW, said that new construction next door to her house has continued into the evening, causing intrusive noise. Police officers have responded to her complaints about after-hours noise on two occasions, but no reports have been filed, she said. A DCRA inspector visited the site on January 2 and a warning was issued to the foreman. However, DCRA inspectors will only visit the site during regular business hours, she said.
A commissioner asked that the resident send him a written complaint and copy Matt Orlins from Councilmember Cheh’s office.
Matt Orlins said that he would follow up with DCRA.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
PSA 202 Lieutenant Alan Hill reported that in the last 30 days overall crime has decreased nearly 10% in PSA 202 as compared with the same period in 2012. There have been no reports of homicides or sexual assaults during this period, he said. Two armed robberies, both involving suspects from Wilson School, were reported. Burglaries and theft from autos continue, he said, with some suspects coming into the upper northwest area from the 4th and 6th Police Districts. Police have arrested suspects with stolen property from four burglaries that they tie to several other burglaries, he reported. Police are using license plate readers to follow suspects’ movements and to gather evidence to try to obtain grand jury indictments. Police believe these suspects are responsible for more than a dozen burglaries in the area and may comprise two major groups, said Lt. Hill. The police are tracking another suspect released from prison for two thefts from autos.
Lt. Hill said that some individuals are preying on the elderly by coming to their door and asking for work. He urged caution and said that residents should never agree to let a stranger work for them.
Auto theft is slowing in the upper northwest area, he said, with 9 reported cases during this 30-day period as compared to 17 during the previous 30-day period. Police have arrested two suspects for auto theft and are tracking a male/female team.
Lt. Hill noted that there have been many complaints of speeding in the 4600 to 4800 blocks of Wisconsin Avenue, NW, as well as on Massachusetts Avenue, NW, and Yuma and Albemarle Streets, NW. He indicated that enforcement measures had been focused on those areas and said that Officer Sanchez recently had been parked at the intersection of Garrison and 45th Streets, NW, to apprehend speeding cars cutting through the neighborhood to River Road, in response to earlier suggestions.
Police have closed several cases of retail theft, Lt. Hill said. He noted that retail theft perpetrators drive in small groups and have become more organized. They steal “everything off the shelves,” and police have recovered a significant amount of stolen merchandise.
A commissioner asked whether children selling magazines have vendor licenses and whether vendor licenses can be verified. Lt. Hill responded that most outfits have home offices and that adults are required to have vendor licenses.
Lt. Hill advised residents to call 911 to report a crime or suspicious activity. Residents can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussion of and possible vote regarding request for BZA variance for home at 4916 Belt Road, NW
Commissioner Quinn introduced this topic, explaining that the owners of 4916 Belt Road, NW, have filed an application for a special exception with the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for variances, including the maximum allowable lot occupancy; non-conforming structure; and side yard setbacks for a proposed addition to their house.
The owners of the house explained that their home was built in 1917 prior to current zoning laws and has always been a non-conforming property. The house exterior walls, as well as the footprint of the house, will remain unchanged. The renovations will all take place on the second and third floor; however, DCRA considers any changes to be an addition, triggering the need for a variance. The permit application was initially denied; subsequently their application was heard before the BZA. A dozen neighbors have written letters of support, with no objections.
The commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting the application.
Discussion of and possible vote regarding application of Cava Mezze to serve alcohol at its sidewalk café
Commissioner Serebin introduced this topic, explaining that Cava Mezze, located at 4237 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, is requesting permission to serve alcohol in its sidewalk café.
An attorney representing Cava Mezze and Cava Mezze CEO Brett Schulman said that the restaurant serves casual Greek Mediterranean food. The sidewalk café will seat 32 customers and will have the same hours as the indoor restaurant, 11am to 10:30pm weekdays and 11am to 11pm weekends. The restaurant stops serving food at 10pm nightly. Cava Mezze serves only beer and wine, which represents 2% of its sales.
In response to a question from an attendee, Cava Mezze representatives said that the sidewalk cafe would be open air and enclosed by a metal trellis with planters around the edges.
A commissioner expressed concern that patrons could walk alcoholic beverages off of the premises. Mr. Schulman said that alcoholic beverages are served to patrons at the outdoor tables and that staff would monitor the café. Other issues discussed included whether fulltime employees could receive transit benefits; if a bicycle rack could be installed near the restaurant; and whether Cava Mezze had investigated obtaining a public space legal permit.
The commissioners voted unanimously to support Cava Mezze’s application to serve alcohol in its sidewalk café.
Presentation regarding Chevy Chase (Maryland) Open Space Park
Patricia Baptiste, Chair of the Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers, presented plans to create the Chevy Chase Open Space Urban Park, which will be located within Chevy Chase Village and adjacent to the Friendship Heights business district. The park borders the District along Western Avenue on one side, with Grove Street in Montgomery County on the other side. The 2-acre parcel of land was purchased by Montgomery County and Chevy Chase Village for a total of $5 million; Chevy Chase Village’s share was $1.25 million, Ms. Baptiste said. The park will be developed, owned and operated by Montgomery County and patrolled by Chevy Chase Village.
Ms. Baptiste said that the park, which is currently in development, will be a passive use park for the whole community. Plans for the park include a birch grove, a natural amphitheater, paved pathways with lighting, a picnic area with movable furniture, bushes and heavily planted flowers, and a great lawn for pick-up games. A fence will be built along the Western Avenue border, she said, and a house on the property has been raised. No scheduled organized sports are planned for the park.
A commissioner expressed concerns that the park will not, as currently planned, have programs that serve neighborhood children and teenagers, such as a soccer field and other activities. The commissioner said that the park might look nice and serve as a landscape buffer to development, but will not be useful or draw people to use it, as is the case with Fort Reno, which is also underused. As Chevy Chase Village has no soccer fields of its own, it is a lost opportunity, the commissioner said. Another commissioner disagreed with the assertion related to Fort Reno, pointing out that Fort Reno is used by a large number of residents in a wide variety of uses. The commissioner said that the lack of programmed space in the proposed park was not necessarily a negative, yet suggested that an outdoor pool could be an excellent programmed usage for the park. Responding to questions, Ms. Baptiste said that there are currently no plans for an outdoor pool or bathrooms, but there will be drinking fountains, and she agreed that extending the bike path next to the Giant supermarket on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase would be a good idea.
Further discussion included suggestions from commissioners to eliminate the curb cut along Western Avenue, which is entirely within the District of Columbia, to enhance the pedestrian walkway and discourage car use.
An attendee suggested that the park should be a gathering place for yoga, tai chi and meditation.
Commissioners asked that Ms. Baptiste check back in with the commission to update plans for the curb cut and whether programmatic activities could be incorporated into the park.
- Approval of June 2013 meeting minutes
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the June 2013 minutes.
- Approval of FY 3rd Quarter, April, May and June 2013 Treasurer’s Reports
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the 3rd Quarter, April, May and June 2013 Treasurer’s Reports.
- Approval of expenditures
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve expenditures: $600.00 to Loren Stein for administrative services; $4.00 to Loren Stein for expenses; $13.78 to FedEx/Kinkos for May copying, and $12.08 to FedEx/Kinkos for June copying, for a total of $25.86.
The commission adjourned at 9:31pm.
Jonathan Bender, Chair