13 May 2008

SMD 5A-09 & PSA 503 Joint Monthly Meeting - Wednesday, May 14

What: SMD 5A-09 & PSA 503 Joint Monthly Meeting

When: Wednesday, May 14 2008, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Hospital for Sick Children/HSC Pediatric Center, 1731 Bunker Hill Road NE

Agenda: Public safety and community concerns, including those addressed in the letter below, written by a neighbor on Otis Street NE:
Dear Neighbors-

In case you haven't heard, a big developer, Alliance Holdings LLC, purchased a tiny piece of land between our home and our neighbor (2212 Otis St NE, Square 4242, Lot 10). It is 25 feet wide, and according to zoning regulations the owner may NOT build as a matter of right.

We recently learned that Taiwo Demuren, presumably with Alliance Holdings LLC, has applied for significant variances from lot area, and lot width requirements, as well as from side yard requirements in order to build a single family dwelling.

In an effort to keep the lot, as it is, open green space, our next-door neighbor made numerous attempts to purchase the lot – but as you can imagine, it is difficult to outbid a developer with deep pockets.

We are very concerned about how this will change the character of our neighborhood. Many of us moved here for the space, and greenery. If these variances are granted, there are many other small lots in our neighborhood that would be able to be developed in a similar manner. Demuren's requested variances would establish a precedent to grant additional variances for these other lots to be more easily developed.

We also fear that since it is often more profitable to knock down an old home and rebuild multiple new homes within the same footprint, than it is to renovate the old home, that this decision could encourage more developers to purchase old homes on these lots, knock them down and build two or more houses in the same plot of land (We have seen this in N. Arlington, VA). Again, we believe that Demuren's requested variances will set a precedent and make the development described above much easier for the next builder.

Of an even greater concern is the beautiful and historic old oak tree that is located on the lot line between the undeveloped lot and our neighbor's home (2216 Otis St, NE). An arborist has certified that this is the SECOND OLDEST TREE IN THE ENTIRE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The tree measures approximately 180 inches in diameter and is estimated to be 300-400 years old. The arborist has also certified that because of the tree's extensive root system, the construction of a structure on the vacant lot will kill this ancient tree.

There are three meetings where attendance by the community members is important if you are interested in helping to stop the proposed development. The first is on May 14, 2008.

*The proposed use of this land is on the agenda for the ANC 5A09 & PSA 503Joint Monthly Meeting on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at 6:30 PM, at the Hospital for Sick Children located at 18th St and Bunker Hill Rd., NE. ANC 5A09 Commissioner Shirley Rivens-Smith will be there and would like to know what the citizens of ANC 5 think of this development.*

* *

*The second meeting is the ANC 5A meeting on May 28, 2008, when all of the ANC 5A commissioners will vote whether to deny or approve support of the developers zoning variances. This meeting will be held at the Taft Recreation Center, 18th and Perry St NE, at 7:00 PM.*

The final meeting will be at the zoning hearing, which will take place on July 8, 2008.

We would certainly appreciate any support, advice, and suggestions from our neighbors on this matter.

We are not against development – we just believe that the zoning regulations were established for a reason, and chose to move to this area because of the open space and the character and charm of our neighborhood. Although we do love our neighbors, and feel rather fortunate to know such nice folks on our block, if we wanted to be on top of them we would have stayed in a condominium. We also love the beautiful old trees and feel it would be a terrible shame for this gift of nature to be destroyed.

We understand there is an expectation of many more jobs and people moving to the area over the next few years, but as a realtor I can tell you there are plenty of vacant properties available for housing all over the city, and not enough buyers and renters to fill them.

Again – we feel this could set a terrible precedent that could significantly affect the character of the greater Brookland/Woodridge/Michigan Park neighborhood, and are *asking for your support*.

Please join us at the ANC 5A09 meeting to show your support.

Thank you!

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