Last night the ANC met for its May session. And to the extent it had an overriding theme, it would be one of a disconnect between neighbors.
The first case that had this disconnect was the EastBanc project at the Exxon station. This has been discussed here before. Essentially, EastBanc wants to build a five story building where the Key Bridge Exxon now stands.
This would cut off a part of the currently magnificent view enjoyed by the homes on Prospect St. When the ANC first reviewed this project, it took the neighbors’ side, but not aggressively so. It asked that OGB to seriously consider the effect on the Prospect St. neighbors’ views, but they didn’t really come that hard against it, at least not in the resolution.
So last night, EastBanc was back with some modest tweaks to the design. Primarily it reconfigured the facade to be less modern and to “read more” (i.e. kinda look) like a set of rowhouses. Apparently they made a few modest changes to the building’s positioning, but they were all pretty minor.
The neighbors were back again. The criticisms seem to fall into two buckets: the effect the building’s height has on the views of the Prospect St. neighbors and the impact the building would have on the “gateway” of Georgetown.
In GM’s opinion, the “gateway” argument is really just a tarted up way to complain about the height. Right now there’s a gas station, and GM suspects a lot of the people complaining about the height would be perfectly fine if the gas station stayed. Besides, as EastBanc argued last night, the building would be on your periphery as you come across the Key Bridge. Your eyes are directed straight at Dixie Liquors, not the Exxon:
And in GM’s opinion, to the extent that drivers or pedestrians stare at anything besides straight ahead as the cross the bridge, it’s to the east that they look.
So really, this is about the height of the building and how it will cut off a part of the Prospect St. residents’ views. EastBanc says they have a right to build that high, and the neighbors want EastBanc nonetheless to build a four story building instead.
And it sounds to GM like EastBanc thinks they’ve already won over the OGB on the height issue, and they’re simply making small changes to address the OGB’s actual concerns, which are primarily about the pedestrian experience of the building. Thus the disconnect.
Perhaps sensing this, the neighbors asked the ANC to adopt a more strongly worded resolution opposing the five story height. And the ANC did, but it still was not exactly the harshest resolution GM’s heard before. Perhaps it will appease the neighbors, but GM doubts it’ll have much effect on the OGB. We shall see.
EastBanc also presented on the Verizon building project. The project has morphed into a brick box sitting on a stone base. It’s a much simpler design, without the jagged cut-outs that typified the first proposal. The ANC seemed fine with the design, but took no action on it.
Ann Goodman lives at 3254 O St. at the south end of her property is a one story garage that fronts on to the alleyway that runs from Potomac to 33rd. St. (between O and N Streets). Over ten years, Goodman has occasionally proposed various projects to enable her to convert the garage into living space. Each time the request has been rejected or otherwise withdrawn.
Now Goodman is proposing to turn her single story garage into a small two (or perhaps three) story house. Or as Goodman would put it, she would like to turn her carriage house into a small two (or perhaps three) story house. (Last night, if you were against the project, it was a garage. If you were for it, it was a carriage house.)
To convert the garage/carriage house into livable space, Goodman would have to actually subdivide the property (otherwise the building would have to satisfy the difficult accessory dwelling unit requirements). But last night, the only question was over the design (OGB doesn’t review for zoning). The neighbors clearly objected to the zoning changes, but confined their objections (or at least mostly confined) to the design problems, i.e. the old air and light complaint. Goodman announced they have no right to a view. Disconnect.
Not surprisingly the ANC backed the neighbors and objected to the project. GM guesses it won’t get through OGB review, and even if it did, it wouldn’t get through zoning review. Georgetown has a bunch of historic and charming alley dwellings, but the city is unlikely to permit a new quasi-alley dwelling to be constructed (which is basically what this would be).
First the Fire, Now This
The owners of the yellow home right next to the burned-out Washingtonian gas station at Q and Wisconsin are proposing a massive addition to their home. Apparently an earlier proposed addition of a smaller size was rejected, but now they’re back with a proposal to essential double the depth of the house with a starkly modern construction (apparently the property is so deep that this would be within the zoning requirements, which is surprising). Similar to the other projects, it sounds like the owners pretty much didn’t care what the neighbor thought and plowed ahead with their by-right plans. The ANC didn’t see it that way and adopted perhaps the most forceful motion of the night against the project.
That’s Not All
- Washington Gas was dragged before the ANC to hear the music on meters. Apparently the company has signed an agreement stating that they will install all gas meter indoors, and if they have to install one outside, they need OGB’s approval. There are many reports of Washington Gas front line employees not living by that agreement and pressuring residents to allow them to install meters outside. If a Washington Gas employee tries to do that, tell them to stop and to insist that they install the meter inside (the meters are electric, so Washington Gas can read them from the street).
- The G2 will stop going through the West Village on June 2. It will turn around at Wisconsin instead.
- As expected, the ANC adopted a resolution asking DDOT to reconsider the four Capital Bikeshare locations that the ANC original proposed, with particular emphasis on the south Rose Park location and the Hyde location.
- DPW recently issued a whopping $1,000 fine to a resident for repeated trash violations. Don’t let that happen to you. Put all your trash in a covered container. If you have difficulty getting your plastic containers out to the curb, you can submit a hardship exemption and DPW employees will do it for you.