Zoning Commission Hears Park Morton/Bruce Monroe Cases

Posted December 9, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Development, Housing

Tags: , , , , ,
The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

This week, the Zoning Commission heard testimony on the related Planned Unit Development cases for the Park Morton “Build First” site at the Bruce Monroe site (ZC16-11) and for the existing Park Morton site (ZC16-12). The hearings occurred on  Monday, December 5th and Thursday, December 8th, respectively with hearings on both nights beginning at 6:30 pm and running 4-5+ hours. In addition to the applicant and ANC1A, the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors and Park Morton Residents Council were granted party status in Case 16-11 and the Park Morton Residents Council was granted party status in Case 16-12.

No votes were taken at either hearing. Testimony for ZC16-11 is closed, and submission for ZC16-12 will close at the end of business on December 12th. Additional details/information requested by the Zoning Commission needs to be filed by January 10th, parties will have until January 18th to respond, and January 30th has been scheduled for the Commission to take action on both cases.

While both cases are discrete, it was well understood that the two cases are closely linked and often times testimony in one case referenced the other. The testimony for both the Bruce Monroe case and the Park Morton case was strongly in favor. While there was no notable opposition to the redevelopment of the site on Morton Street, there was notable testimony in opposition to the development planned for the Bruce Monroe site including the aforementioned Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors which has party status in the case. Those wishing to watch the testimony in both cases can do so. Video for both cases is available (ZC16-11 opening statements and testimony here; closing arguments hereZC16-12 here). Prior to the Commission making a decision on the Bruce Monroe site, they’ve requested that the development team meet with the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors group and attempt to address their concerns.

Questions from Commissioners were encouraging, and seemed to drill down into details that would improve the project or provide better documentation so that the expected amenities would actually be provided. Perhaps the most important questions along these lines for community members had to do with the creation of the new 1 acre park at the Bruce Monroe site. While there was recognition that the park would be a significant amenity, the park itself is not included in the PUD application. To this end, the Commission has requested that appropriate language be included that documents as much detail as possible about the park such as size, location, and any other decisions that have been made. One Commissioner also suggested that perhaps language could be included that would require that the park be constructed and completed prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the buildings. There was also a request for more details on which entities would be responsible for creating and maintaining the park. At this time, the thoughts on this are that it would be a shared responsibility between the Department of General Services, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the developer.

Commissioner May, in particular, drilled down into the architectural details of both applications. Notably, May and other commissioners commented that they would like a different brick used at the Bruce Monroe site, as white brick tends to get dirty quickly and didn’t really relate to the surrounding community. Commissioner Miller suggested that red brick be considered instead. There was also a sense that the rowhouses planned for the Bruce Monroe site could be more architecturally compatible with the neighborhood, and requested that the developer respond to that.

Testimony in opposition to the development at the Bruce Monroe site ranged from requesting that the buildings be shorter, expressing dissatisfaction with the community engagement process, claiming a lack of ANC representation (Commissioners Brown and Nguyen recused themselves due to conflicts of interest), and advocating to use the entire site as a permanent park.

While the long term use of the Bruce Monroe site has been a hot button issue in the community since the Bruce Monroe School was razed in 2010, Zoning Commission Chair Anthony Hood summed it up succinctly. While questioning Buwa Binitie of Dantes Partners early in the evening on Monday, Hood stated:

I believe when Bruce Monroe [school] was torn down, that I think everyone in this city knew that there was some type of development [that] was going to happen there. So that’s no surprise. I’m sure that even the new neighbors, I think when you bought into the neighborhood you knew there was going to be some type of development in the area.

Park View Neighborhood Potluck is Tonight!

Posted December 7, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Community Meetings

Tags: ,

The annual Park View United Neighborhood Coalition potluck is tonight and the Park View Recreation Center. Its a great, relaxed way to meet neighbors. Details contained in the flyer below.

2016holiday-potluck-flier

Nuisance Property at 805 Rock Creek Church Road is Evicted

Posted December 6, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Crime, MPD, Public Safety

Tags: , , , ,

I’m happy to report that the nuisance property located at 805 Rock Creek Church Road was evicted yesterday. This property has long-been a know problem due to its use as a drug marketplace. Back in March MPD executed a search warrant at the place which resulted in MPD seizing multiple quantities of controlled substances as well as a loaded firearm.  Three adult males were also arrested inside of the location. In September a judge finally granted an eviction for those using the property, and that was carried out yesterday.

img_19771

Refresh of Petworth’s Chez Billy Hardly Refreshing

Posted December 5, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Historic Landmarks, History

Tags: , , ,

Back at the end of July 2016, Petworth’s Chez Billy closed to “refresh the decor” and launch a new “concept.” Now, four months since, it appears that we have a clue as to what a refresh of the decor actually means. I was very disappointed to see that the exterior of the building is being painted an interesting shade of green with the covering or removal of the handsome Tudor elements.

former-chez-billy(Transformation of Petworth’s former Chez Billy at 3815 Georgia Avenue, NW)

Personal tastes aside, the transformation of the exterior is particularly disappointing as the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 (read nomination here) due to the site’s association with Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks — which was historically significant for playing a notable role in the social and political culture of the District of Columbia’s African American community. The restaurant was frequented by many notable people in politics and government, and the owner, William W. “Billy” Simpson, was an avid supporter of civil rights and anti-war causes.

When the building was renovated for Chez Billy, the exterior was tastefully restored to be in keeping with the site’s history. Now it appears that all that will remain will be a plaque alerting passers-by that the building  is on the African American Heritage Trail with a brief paragraph of explanation.

The photo below shows what the building looked like before the refresh.

Chez Billy's

Annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza is Tomorrow

Posted December 2, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Celebrations, Holidays

Tags: ,

cohi-tree-lighting
The 6th Annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The annual event is held at the Columbia Heights Civic plaza (14th St, Kenyon St, and Park Rd.).

Details from the Columbia Heights Initiative: This Saturday we will be decking the halls-and by halls we mean the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza-for our 6th Annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza. Come to the plaza to enjoy complimentary cocoa, candy canes, carols — and perhaps even a visit from Santa!

Next Park View Cleanup Scheduled for Saturday

Posted December 1, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Community Involvement

Tags:

The next Park View Cleanup is this Saturday, December 3rd, beginning at 10 a.m. Following the cleanup, volunteers can relax at The Midlands with a free beer.

park-view-clean-up

DC Council Holds Hearing on Bruce Monroe Surplus and Disposition, Witnesses Largely Support Effort

Posted November 30, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Development, Housing

Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia held a Joint Public Hearing of the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Transportation & the Environment — with the agenda items being surplus and disposition approval resolutions for the South Dakota Avenue Riggs Road Excess Property, the Capitol Vista property, and the Bruce Monroe Property. The hearing began at 11:46 a.m. and lasted until 5:59 p.m., with 4 hours and 20 minutes of the hearing being consumed by testimony related to the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition. The hearing was Chaired by Councilmember Mendelson, with Councilmembers Cheh and White present for much of the hearing and including representatives from Councilmembers Nadeau, Silverman, Bonds, and Grosso.

The record will close for those wishing to submit testimony at the close of business on December 5th. While the Council could vote on the Bruce Monroe Surplus and Disposition resolutions as early as December 6th, the date of the vote will likely be December 20th.

While there were few witnesses testifying for the first two properties, 24 witnesses signed up to testify on the surplus and disposition of the Bruce Monroe site, which would then be used as the build first site for the redevelopment of Park Morton. Among the witnesses were Kent Boese for ANC1A, Amanda Bonam for ANC1B, Chris Waldmann for the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition, and Darren Jones for the Pleasant Plans Civic Association. Overall 16 witnesses (69.45%) testified in support of the disposition of the Bruce Monroe site and using it for the Park Morton effort, 7 witnesses (30.43%) testified in opposition of the disposition, and 1 witness provided testimony that was neither for or against, but offered suggestions on how the overall process could be improved.

I’ve provided the video of the hearing below for those wishing to hear the testimony directly.


%d bloggers like this: