ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK
c/o Lisner Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
Minutes of ANC 3E October 9, 2014 Meeting
The meeting convened at 7:38pm. Commissioners Bender, Frumin, Serebin and Quinn were present.
Announcements / Open Forum – opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
Commissioner Serebin made a statement arguing that the allocation and use of fields by the District Department of Parks and Recreation contributed to gender inequity – resulting in fewer activities that appealed to girls as compared to boys on public land.
Lt. Alan Hill of the Second District provided an update on recent crime trends. He explained that crime overall, importantly, except burglaries, was down in the past 30 days. He noted that there had been a dramatic increase in burglaries in the area generally, with 6 in PSA 202 in the previous 30 days (as compared to 4 in the same period last year and even higher increases in neighboring PSAs). Lt. Hill explained that there had been 3 robberies in PSA 202 in the previous 30 days but that one of those was actually a theft. There were no other violent crimes in that period. Thefts were up from 26 in the same period in the previous year to 30 (31 if one included the recategorized robbery). Theft from autos was down from 29 in the same period in the previous year to 7. Lt. Hill was uncertain to what that change could be attributed, but said he hoped it would hold and stay low.
Lt. Hill fielded questions from residents regarding the steps the Department was taking to address the increase in burglaries and outlined recent increases in and changes to staffing of the PSA, including the addition of four mountain bike officers.
Two Commissioners asked about traffic enforcement issues, One asked about an enforcement exercise in an alley in which a resident whose parking space is in the alley was ticketed leaving his home when the rules merely prohibit entering the alley for transit at the specified times). Another referred to the need for enforcement and tree trimming so that a no turn sign would be more visible at 43rd and River Road. Lt. Hill pledged to address those issues going forward.
The application for renewal of alcoholic beverage license for Rodman’s Discount
Nolan Rodman made a presentation about Rodman’s request to renew its license to sell beer and wine as well as steps they have taken to ensure that deliveries to the store generally are not disruptive to the neighborhood. Commissioner Bender presented a resolution in support of renewal subject to a voluntary agreement relating in particular to procedures around deliveries and responsiveness to issues raised by neighbors and the community. Mr. Rodman agreed to the terms of the voluntary agreement and the Commissioners voted unanimously to support the renewal application.
The application for a substantial change to the alcoholic beverage license for the Capital Wine School at 5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Stephen Whelan, counsel to the Capital Wine School, made a presentation regarding the Capital Wine School request for a substantial change to its license to sell alcoholic beverages to allow the school to teach classes not only on wine but also on spirits. A resident asked if classes at the school required a fee or patrons could simply drop in. Mr. Whelan said that a fee was charged. Commissioner Quinn presented a resolution in support, noting that there had been no complaints relating to the school’s current operation which was subject to a voluntary agreement limiting the use to classes on wine. He explained that the Commission was supportive of the request but asked that the voluntary agreement be updated to reflect the change allowing not only classes on wine but also classes on spirits. Mr. Whelan said while he had not gotten formal confirmation from his client he saw no reason why the proposed agreement would not be acceptable. The Commissioners voted unanimously to support the application subject to a revision to the voluntary agreement to be executed the following week upon the return of the owner.
Vote on grant request from the Lisner Home for support for Zoo Day
Commissioner Frumin reviewed the grant request for Lisner Home for Zoo Day that had been presented at a previous meeting. The Commissioners fielded a series of questions from residents about the nature of the event and the mechanics of the grant process, confirming that grants were made using taxpayer dollars. The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the grant.
Vote on grant request from Children’s Art Studio
Commissioner Quinn outlined the grant request for the Children’s Art Center for its internship program presented at the previous meeting. A resident – Wilbur Hadden – noted that he had been by the Art Center over the weekend and it appeared they were moving. A Commissioner sought clarification on whether the internships were limited to children who lived in ANC 3E or went to school in ANC 3E or was not limited. Another Commissioner responded that the program serves ANC 3E residents and the internship supported the program so there was no need for a limitation. The Commissioners voted unanimously to support the grant request subject to confirmation that the program was not relocating and if so not relocating to outside of the boundaries of ANC 3E.
Update by PEPCO regarding proposed undergrounding projects in the area
Kirsten Bowden of PEPCO provided an overview of the projects in the area, including hr upgrade to the Harrison substation and the coming DC PLUG projects but noted that DC PLUG had not yet been approved by the Public Service Commission so that the focus at the meeting would be the Harrison substation and associated undergrounding.
Another PEPCO representative outlined the plans for the substation, describing why the upgrade was needed to meet increasing demand and for modernization generally. A third PEPCO representative outlined the plans for undergrounding the lines linking the Harrison substation to one by Little Falls Parkway and one at Van Ness. He described the way in which the work will be done using the current work on River Road as an illustration. He described the extensive impacts the project would have on traffic and parking and the tension between trying to do the work quickly so using as much of the day as possible for the work and the burden when such work was occurring.
Residents asked when this work would commence. A schedule was provided. They also asked when work on the DC PLUG projects would commence in the Friendship Heights area and were told that while the schedule said January it would be more like April or later. A resident also asked about the security of the Harrison substation site. The PEPCO officials said the site would be closed to outside access but recognized that a truly motivated person likely could find a way to enter the site. Another resident asked about PEPCO’s plans for the auto dealer site after the substation was completed. The PEPCO officials said they were not closed to the idea that that site might be sold to a developer.
A Commissioner asked about plans for the roadwork urging flexibility regarding when such work would be completed and sensitivity to neighbor concerns. He also pointed out the Metro would be closed for eight weekends in 2016 and this work should not occur at the same time. The PEPCO officials said they would take that request on board and work closely with the community going forward. Another Commissioner noted he had asked about renovation of the the façade of the substation and received assurances from PEPCO that it would do so, but had not yet heard anything concrete. PEPCO officials said they were in the process of securing bids to work on the façade and hoped to have more to report before the end of the year. They said that they anticipated that the work on the façade would be done at the end of the project. The commissioner urged that if that were the case, interim steps be taken to address the appearance of blight created by the site in its current condition. Another Commissioner acknowledged that the work that is to be done is important and ultimately will redound to the communities benefit but observed there will be a lot of disruption and that the community and PEPCO would be living with each other for the next years. He urged that PEPCO undertake systematic communication and outreach efforts and provide generous notice in advance of each part of the various projects to ensure the work went smoothly with as little disruption as possible.
Plans for development of the Steak & Egg site at Chesapeake and Wisconsin NW
Richard Foster, the architect on the Steak & Egg project, outlined the plans for the project noting that the developer – Frank and Dina Economides – required relief for not providing 3 parking spaces for the retail uses and having some of the 8 residential spaces be sized for compact cars. A previous iteration of the proposal had included less residential parking, but the Office of Planning had suggested that some should be provided.
Residents asked questions of the development team regarding whether the Steak & Egg would be a part of the eventual development. The Economides said it would. A resident asked when the Steak & Egg would be closed? Carolyn Brown, the attorney for the Economides, said that the BZA process could be completed this year or early next and securing permits would take a number of months. As such, the expectation was that the Steak & Egg would remain open until at least mid-2015. Other residents asked about parking and whether the project would prohibit residents of the building from securing RPP permits. It was explained that the parking relief requested was only for three commercial spaces, that the required number of in-house residential spaces for a matter of right project would be provided, and the project was not large enough to require an RPP prohibition in addition to the required number of in-house spaces being provided. Also, given the Wisconsin Avenue address, under current rules, the residents would not qualify for RPP.
Commissioner Bender presented a resolution and proposed memorandum of understanding on the project. Two Commissioners expressed support but said they preferred an earlier iteration of the projectwith more retail and less parking. A Commissioner asked if the list of prohibited businesses in the memorandum of understanding could include a medical marijuana dispensary. Two Commissioners said they preferred not to include such a prohibition though there might be one at that site already given proximity to schools. There was an extended discussion of how to protect against noise from the western side of the building. It was suggested that a specific hour be proposed for when windows would have to be closed. An alternative suggestion was to add a provision in the agreement requiring the developer (and prospective restaurant owner) work with the ANC and community on an agreement to ensure there was no after hour disruption to the neighborhood from the restaurant. Such a provision was added to the agreement. The commissioners voted unanimously to support the resolution subject to execution of the revised memorandum of understanding.
Additional period for for late-submitted grant proposal
Leigh Catherine Miles made a presentation of a grant request for the Tenley Winterfest –to support purchasing and putting up additional banners around the time of the event. The grant is to be provided to the Janney PTA. One Commissioner expressed ambivalence about providing a grant to the Janney PTA which he said had substantial funds. Ms. Miles pointed out that the grant went through the Janney PTA but was to be used for a community building project that included but was larger than Janney. At least two Commissioners expressed reservations about the design of the banners, particularly the inclusion of the radio tower, which they indicated could cast Tenleytown in a negative light. The Commissioners all expressed general support for the grant but urged that the organizers consider getting in touch with Commissioner Serebin in the intervening time and that he was willing to donate his professional services to come up with a design that improved on the current design, that the committee should consider it (and noted that if that resulted in any increase cost, the commission would entertain an increase to the grant request). Ms. Miles said she would report that back to the committee.
Approval of September 2014 Meeting Minutes
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the September 2014 meeting minutes.
Approval of expenditures
Commissioners voted unanimously to void a check to Bluehost Inc. issued at the previous meeting because the amount was incorrect.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve expenditures:
$1360.00 to the Lisner Home for the Zoo Day grant
$949.00 to the Children’s Art Center for their internship grant request
$143.88 to Bluehost Inc.
The Commission adjourned at 10:15pm.
Matthew Frumin, Chair