The quorum for the meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B was Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Diane Hoskins (6B02, vice chair), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Nick Burger (6B06, treasurer), Aimee Grace (6B07), James Loots (6B03, parliamentarian), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, chair), Daniel Ridge (6B09, secretary) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
Alcohol and Beverage Committee
A representative from Little Pearl, a coffee shop and wine bar located in the carriage house at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, appeared to request a modification to its settlement agreement related to the liquor license. The modification would allow for a one and one-half-hour extension in hours, Monday to Saturday, moving the closing time to 12:30 a.m.
The representative said the license and permitted operating hours had been directly transferred from Bayou Bakery, which used to operate at that site. Little Pearl operates as a coffee shop in the morning and early afternoon, then becomes a wine bar at 5:30 p.m. “It will probably allow us another turn, as they say in the restaurant business,” said the representative of the extension.
Chair Jayaraman noted that Little Pearl would also have to request a stipulated license from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) in addition to the ANC request. The request was supported unanimously.
Planning and Zoning Committee
The Ebenezer United Methodist Church development team (400 D St. SE) appeared in relation to an historical preservation application (HPA) for a structure surrounding an electric parking lift in the rear of five planned new townhouses at the same address. There was extensive discussion on the application, most of which centered on the viability of the mechanical lift, the use of the currently vacant greenspace for this purpose, the safety of such a structure in a neighborhood so near to many schools and childcare centers and the effect on traffic patterns, as opposed to concerns linked directly to historical preservation, such as the appearance of the building, which Oldenburg said was the HPA-related question before the ANC.
One neighbor voiced concerns about the use of the structure, which would lie behind his home, meaning that the access road would run beside his property. Noting that church services occur at a fixed time and that the structure admitted cars one at a time, he worried about the backlog to get in and out. Others expressed concern about the noise that might be generated by the device and the maintenance of the building and device. Still another said that additional parking for 24 cars was not of significant value to the neighborhood and that the concern could be addressed in another way.
A few neighbors pointed out that the church was attempting to address concerns with parking pointed out by the community when plans to construct the five townhouses were initially presented. “We have to address reality,” he said. “If we want the church to be active we have to address the issue of lost street parking,” adding that he supported the proposal because the church was addressing the parking issue. Another pointed out that if the church did not survive, the community would probably have to deal with condo construction on the site.
Elizabeth Nelson of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) presented the ANC with a print copy of comments from the society, noting in the meeting that CHRS would oppose the curb cut required for the project because of its effect on traffic patterns, noise, property values and stormwater runoff. She added that this project could set a precedent for building on green lots in the middle of residential squares.
Loots didn’t see a public benefit to the parking structure, but that was not the issue before the ANC. He pointed out that there was a precedent in regard to the use of interior greenspace at the center of an alley-free block in a case previously considered on the 400 block of Seventh Street SE. In that case, the ANC determined that the maintenance of undeveloped space is essential to the particular historical nature of Capitol Hill and opposed the application. For that reason, he would oppose this HPA.
Committee Chair Burger said he was still prepared to support the application, because he did not want to overapply the historic preservation rules. He said the tension in the case was hard to resolve. “In every planning and zoning case, someone complains about parking,” he said. “These guys are trying to come up with a solution; we’re opposing a reasonable, creative solution.”
The ANC voted to oppose the structure on the basis of the use of green space and the opposition of neighbors. The opposition was supported, 4-2-2.
The ANC heard a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) request for a variance regarding a lot at 205 Third St. SE. The application had originally been made using the address of the adjacent lot at 213 Third St. SE. The architect explained that this had occurred prior to the hiring of his firm and was due to limitations in input possibilities on the digital forms for the various relevant District agencies. He said that the firm had requested all information be corrected. The ANC voted to delay consideration of the application for 30 days and to ask that the BZA do so as well to allow for address corrections and communication between the applicant and the homeowner at 213 Third St. SE. The motion passed unanimously with the assent of all parties.
Burger presented on a notice of a public hearing by the Board of Zoning in regard to changes to zoning codes proposed by the Office of Planning. The zoning changes affect daycare facilities for children, seniors and adult treatment facilities but, Burger emphasized, not licensing regulations. The changes would delete the clause requiring that play space required for childcare facilities be located on the same lot as the center. In RA and MU zones, the changes would remove the limitation on the number of persons in the daytime care centers.
Jayaraman noted that he supported the changes for childcare centers but would be testifying at the hearing to voice his objection to the inclusion of adult treatment centers in the same changes. After some discussion, the commission voted unanimously to endorse a letter supporting changes as applied to child- and senior-care facilities but requesting the zoning commission not apply the changes to adult day-treatment facilities. The letter also recommended changing, as in other zones, the clause that limits by-right use by the number of individuals in the RF zone.
Grace requested that a letter to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), with comments on the Southeast Boulevard and Barney Circle Study, be moved from the consent agenda to the regular agenda in order to allow further comment from residents who felt they had insufficient time to do so at the Transportation Committee meeting.
Much concern was expressed about a phrase indicating the committee supported the fixed elements of the project, although many residents opposed a bus facility, included in the plans, which they saw as a fixed element. Many argued that concerns with traffic, noise and air pollution had not been addressed. Another argued that many residents did not want a bus depot at all, and wanted that sentiment to be expressed in the letter.
Noting that construction of the depot, if it takes place, would begin about 15 or more years in the future, Transportation Chair Oldenburg altered the letter to remove the implication that the ANC was in favor of the facility and to state that the lack of information about the depot itself had caused concern so grave that some in the community opposed the bus depot. The changes and the letter were endorsed unanimously.
At the end of the meeting, the commissioners elected officers for the 2018-19 year. All officers were elected unanimously and as a bloc. They are: Daniel Ridge, chair; Chander Jayaraman, vice chair; Nick Burger, treasurer (incumbent); Kirsten Oldenburg, secretary; James Loots, parliamentarian (incumbent). Terms commenced at the conclusion of the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.