June 14, 2022, 7:30 pm
The meeting convened via Zoom at 7:32 PM. Commissioners Bender, Cohen, Gianinno, Hall and Quinn were in attendance.
Announcements / Open Forum– opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
Emir Gur-Ravantab, the Ward 3 Liaison to the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations (MOCRs), announced:
- DGS is aware of the problems with air conditioning at public schools, including Janney. They will be adding spot coolers to make the classrooms more comfortable.
- He reached out to DPW about the lack of parking enforcement along Wisconsin Ave. They acknowledged that they have a lack of personnel at this time to adequately provide parking enforcement.
- He also contacted NPS about the lack of grass mowing at their properties. They have had issues with their contractor that have been resolved. If anyone notices NPS properties that need mowing, please email the details to Emir and he will flag the sites to NPS.
- They have a new Ward 3 MOCRs, Theo Wren. They have not finalized the division of labor between the Ward 3 MOCRs, but Mr. Wren can also help with any issues that arise.
Mr. Gur-Raventab can be contacted at email@example.com.
Leigh Catherine Miles, Executive Director of Tenleytown Main Street announced:
- Art All Night will be held on Saturday, September 24. The deadline for applications to be submitted for artists and presenters is tomorrow, June 15.
- There will be another Get Fit at Fessenden event this Saturday. All proceeds go toward maintenance of the park.
- Bastille Day festivities will be held July 16 at Fessenden Park. Tickets are $20 and details can be found on https://tenleytownmainstreet.org/event/bastille-day
Rachael Davis with the Friendship Height Alliance announced:
- They will hold a Street Festival and Makers Market on Wisconsin Ave between Garrison and Jenifer Streets on June 25 and September 10.
- Chevy Chase Pavilion will host a photography exhibition June 23 to July 21.
An attendee stated the DC Council approved a redistricting plan for ANCs. AU has been added to ANC3E, including two new Commissioners. They suggested the Commission consider how the additional workload will be organized amongst Commissioners. Commissioner Bender replied that it will be considered in the fall.
Tony Ciccone, President of the Ft Gaines Citizens Association asked if the Commission will be taking a position on the Wesley Seminary Campus Plan. He also stated that the AU tractors are still speeding through the neighborhood and running through stop signs and asked that we follow up with AU. Another attendee added that they thought it was too late to weigh in on the Wesley Seminary Campus Plan as the record is now closed.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
Capt. Frenzel provided an update on crime in PSA 202. He provided details about crimes in the neighborhood:
- There was a shooting at the McDonalds in which the victim initially reported that there was a road rage incident and the suspects followed the victim to McDonalds, and discharged several shots into the victim’s car. The victim self-responded to an ER in MD and the victim and two witnesses are not cooperating with MPD. MPD does not believe this was a random incident.
- Three businesses on Fessenden (Café Sol, Coffee Nature and the Dry Cleaners) were burglarized. Ms. Miles with Tenleytown Main Streets stated this was the third time they were burglarized in nine months. Capt Frenzel suggested they install an alarm system.
- There was an incident on Ingomar in which someone was threatened with a knife. Fortunately, no one was injured. MPD has not identified any suspects.
- MPD has increased their presence before and after school on 4500 block of Wisconsin and will continue to do so until the end of the school year.
An attendee asked about activity and arrests by the crime suppression unit at 4631 41st St. The unit executed a warrant and seized drugs. The case is with the US Attorney right now and Frenzel does not know if charges will be filed.
A Commissioner asked about an assault they witnessed outside of the CVS in which they witnessed one person stomping on another. The person who was being assaulted was arrested and the other person who seemed to be the assailant was let go. Capt. Frenzel stated that he cannot comment on the details of a pending criminal case.
Capt Frenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional comments or questions.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding renewal liquor license application by Wagshal’s, Guapo’s, Maggiano’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Nando’s, Angelico Pizzeria, Satay Club, and Masala Art
Commissioner Bender informed those in attendance that the ANC does not normally take action for liquor license renewals (as opposed to initial applications) unless there are complaints about the establishment. There were no concerns raised by those in attendance or sent to the Commissioners ahead of the meeting regarding these businesses and therefore the Commission took no action on these renewals.
Discussion of proposal by the Office of Planning to amend the zoning regulations to permit a bus garage to locate in the space currently occupied by the back portion of the Lord & Taylor parking lot
Jennifer Steingasser with the Office of Planning stated that they are not proposing to change the zoning of the Lord & Taylor parking lot, rather, they are proposing to add a use category to the zoning regulations to allow the WMATA bus garage to move to the Lord & Taylor site. The plan is to allow the existing bus garage to remain at their current location while a new garage is constructed on the Lord & Taylor parking garage site. Steingasser stated that an environmental impact would be required if WMATA decides to move forward with this plan. It would be possible to build residential units above the garage. She further noted that WMATA has a commitment to have a full electric fleet by 2045. The hearing is currently scheduled for September 12.
- Asked how WMATA plans to acquire the site. Steingasser cannot speak to that.
- Asked why this redesignation was not part of the FLUM/Comp plan. Steingasser stated that the Council did consider this when they allowed for mixed-use of the current bus garage site with the idea that the garage would move to Western Ave.
- Asked how the redesignation would work with the potential historic designation of the Lord & Taylor building. Steingasser stated that historical designation of the building would not interfere with the redevelopment of the parking garage site.
- Asked for clarification on what part of lot this would apply to. It would allow for the redevelopment of the entire parking lot.
- Asked if they sought input from the nearby neighbors. They have not heard from any of the adjoining neighbors who would be given the opportunity to weigh in during the zoning hearing.
- Stated that they hope the Commission will oppose this proposal as it would not allow the Commission to negotiate with WMATA any plans they put forward. They noted that the Comprehensive plan stated this lot is for local public use, but a bus garage is not necessarily what the neighbors had in mind.
- Stated that WIN Ward 3 would like to see affordable housing maximized on the lot when it finally is developed.
- An immediate neighbor and member of Ward 3 Housing Justice stated they are against the text amendment as they believe the neighbors have not had an opportunity to weigh in, they oppose tying up two sites for years, and would like to see other community facilities to be placed at the site, such as a library, surrounded by a mixed-use community that includes a lot of affordable housing.
- Had concerns with tying up two sites.
- Noted that the current site is a brown field and asked what the city and/or federal government do to help clean up the current WMATA bus garage site.
- Stated that the community needs schools, fields, and a community center. And would like to have these facilities placed on the Lord & Taylor site as it is clean and ready to develop.
- Noted that if the text amendment is adopted this would eliminate any leverage the Commission has to promote the interest of our constituents and asked why we would ever support this.
- Stated that these plans should be part of the Wisconsin Ave planning framework.
- Asked about the timing of the text amendment. Steingasser replied that fits with WMATA’s needs.
- Noted that this plan does not give much opportunity for the neighbors to weigh in.
- Did not understand why WMATA’s plans do not include 4400 Jenifer St, an office building that is mostly empty.
- Believes that the garage should be moved and does not think the new site will be generate industrial waste like the old one.
- Asked if the garage will all be underground so something can be built on top. Steingasser does not know what they plan on doing on top of the garage but noted that there is a lot more Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that can be developed on that site.
- Stated that this is a prime site for community space, sports fields, housing, etc. and would like more cohesive sense of how this fits into the future plans for Friendship Heights revitalization.
- Stated that these plans seem premature given the upcoming Wisconsin Avenue planning process.
- Asked if WMATA can postpone their hearing to appear before the Commission and provide the Commission with details about their plans including a compelling need to rezone the lot.
Presentation by DDOT regarding proposed Western Avenue and 44th and Jennifer Street bike lanes
Will Handsfield, a bicycle program specialist with the Office of Planning stated DDOT plans to install two-way cycle tracks (protected bike lanes) on the west side of 44th St, the north side of Jenifer St and the north side of Western Ave between Jenifer and Westmoreland Circle. He stated some of this work can be done this calendar year.
- Would like to see these bike lanes connected to the ones along 41st St so children can bike to Deal Middle School and Jackson-Reed (Wilson) High School.
- Would like to see other traffic mitigation items installed to slow commuters down.
- Noted there is a gap in the sidewalk on the west side of River Rd along Ft Bayard.
- Asked if these bike lanes can be connected to DaleCarlia Pkwy and then onto Macarthur Blvd.
- Asked if the bike lanes would go to Massachusetts Ave. It would.
- Would like to see protected bike lanes along DaleCarlia Pkwy, along Western to Friendship Heights, and down to Tenleytown.
- Asked how bus stops would be accommodated. Handfield replied that they install Zicla platforms that allow for both the bike lane and access to buses.
- Asked if the bike lane will be on the sidewalk or in street along the Geico property. They are still investigating.
- Asked if the bike lane can go around Westmoreland circle. Handsfield stated that part of the circle is in Montgomery County and the details will need to be worked out.
Presentation by DDOT regarding Connecticut Ave NW reversible lanes and multimodal and safety project
Ed Stoloff with DDOT stated that they will be having a public meeting online on June 28 from 9 to 11 AM and an in-person on June 29 at UDC from 6 to 8 PM where they will show the first iterations of their plans. They removed the reversible lanes and did a traffic calming review. They will be adding protected bike lanes, reviewing turns and pick up and drop off lanes, adding pedestrian refuge islands, and curb extensions. They are also reducing the speed limits from 30 mph to 25 mph. The Mayor requested they do a racial equity impact analysis and look for inequities for seniors and persons with disabilities. They are investigating whether to extend the PBL to Chevy Chase Circle and will be refining the plans through the winter 2023.
Attendees had no questions or comments. Commissioners stated that they are participating on the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) and they are reviewing the plans driveway-to-driveway and asked about the timeline for the project (procurement will take almost 2 years. Design will take 12 months and construction will take 12 months).
Update by Federal Realty Trust on its plans to build a mixed-use project at the current Maggiano’s site on Wisconsin Ave.
Geoff Sharpe with Federal Realty, Robert Sponseller, architect, Will Zeid, traffic engineer, and Cary Kadlecek updated the community on their plans to redevelop 5333 Wisconsin Ave into a residential building. They showed renderings of the rear of building from street level around the community and details of the greens they will be planting around and on the building. By way of community amenities, they are amenable to including 2000 sq ft community center in the building but they need someone to run it and have engaged in discussion with the Department of Aging and Community Life and Iona (they are not interested) and with DPR (who are considering it). They looked at the number of parking spaces provided in a selected group of multifamily buildings in the Bethesda and other parts of DC to see how many parking spaces they are leasing and found that larger buildings have greater demand for the spaces. They are at the lower range of the number of spaces and cannot go lower without running out of spaces to lease to meet the demand.
- Did not think 2000 sq ft is enough space to offer as a community center.
- Would like to have more than 15% affordable housing and closer to 30%. Sharpe stated that they are offering 15% at 60% AMI and this is a high-water mark, 50% above what they are required to offer.
- Asked why they can’t move some of the density to the Wisconsin Ave side of the building. Sharpe stated that OP won’t approve 130 ft tall, flat architecture.
- Would like Federal Realty to review parking along 43rd St and possibly allow it for residents only. Sharpe stated they can do this, but the neighbors must agree.
- Asked for clarification on why the Department of Aging and Community Life wasn’t interested in running a community center there. Sharpe replied they do not have a model for a community center that is less than 12,000 sq ft.
- Asked for more affordable housing units and setting aside retail for small businesses and black- and brown-owned businesses.
- Noted that 2000 sq ft is about half of a basketball court or 2 squash courts.
- Stated they are not asking for minimal relief and would need more amenities to offset what they are asking for.
- Asked again if they can do green and solar roof. (They will look into it.)
- Stated that if capping the parking might force the developer to lower the rent to lease the vacant units when they run out of parking spaces, as the developer claimed, that is not a bad thing.
- Liked greenery on back and believe it is a nice amenity.
- Would like them to seek a higher grade of LEED certification.
- Would like them to think creatively to meet a programmatic need and does not want them to be wedded to offer a 2000 sq ft space that would go unused.
- Approval of May 2022 Meeting Minutes – Commissioner Bender moved, and Commissioner Quinn seconded a motion to approve the Draft May 2022 Meeting Minutes. 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 a payment for $450.00 to Sherry Cohen for administrative support. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned by acclimation at 11:01 PM.