As GM discussed recently, the owners of 3020 Cambridge Place came before the ANC and the Old Georgetown Board twice recently to request the installation of a parking pad on their property adjoining the alley behind their house.
In May, the owners (who apparently don’t actually live there) requested approval to construct the parking pad. The ANC, perhaps in deference to the strong showing from neighbors objecting to the construction, decided not to approve the designs. According to the architect’s testimony at the June ANC meeting, the OGB also rejected the proposal but left the door open.
In June, the owners and their architect returned to the ANC meeting with plans revised to address the OGB’s concerns (mostly it had to do with fence location, drainage, and the installation of an automatic gate). There was another strong showing of neighbor opposition to the plan (although the owners produced some letters in support of their application). Notwithstanding the changes made to the proposal, the ANC again rejected it.
So what did the OGB do? Well apparently they approved it.
It’s always difficult to divine from the OGB minutes upon what considerations the board based its conclusions. At the June ANC meeting, someone mentioned that the alleyways were historically nothing much to look at. Possibly the OGB decided that since their charge is historical preservation, then maybe a parking pad isn’t exactly unacceptable. Additionally, perhaps they felt that as a matter of equity, the owners should be allowed to build a parking pad since several other houses on the alleyway already have one.
(The owners are back before the ANC again for the July meeting, but it’s for the actual building permit. As of right now, the ANC has it on the “No Review At This Time Calendar” so it is unlikely to try to reject it for a third time. But you never know…)
So why does this even matter you ask? Well it highlights the diverging world views and driving concerns between the ANC and the OGB. One puts neighborhood harmony above all else, the other puts historical harmony on top. And it’s certainly clear with cases like this and the Apple store saga that the OGB simply does not take its walking orders from the ANC. Moreover, it appears that despite the fact that it got somewhat accused of NIMBYism in the whole Apple store affair, the OGB is actually somewhat less responsive to neighbor complaints than the ANC. Something to keep in mind if you find yourself having to navigate the alphabet soup that is the project review process.