ANC6B Letter to Office of Planning Prior to Set Down

To:  Office of Planning

Re:  Concerns regarding the PUD filing for the Hine School Redevelopment Project

We are writing to follow up on the informal conversation held last week with members of the Office Planning, DDOT and members of the ANC6B Subcommittee on Hine School Redevelopment.

The Commission would like to reinforce some of the specific concerns raised in that conversation and ask that these issues be addressed in the report being provided for the Zoning Commission at the end of this month.

Missing or insufficient information.

While it is the case that the Office of Planning or the Zoning Commission cannot require the applicants to provide information that is obligated by the Council approved LDDA ,  many of those commitments for information were made to ensure adequate community review of the impacts of the proposed development.  As such, the absence of a comprehensive traffic study, noise study, shadow study, retail plan and open space management plan leave the community at a significant disadvantage in determining what impacts may require mitigation and what impacts may warrant some form of compensating community benefit or amenity.

We find it to be wholly insufficient that this information is not included in the application and that, with the exception of the transportation study, there is no schedule for their presentation to either the community or the City.

Our Commission and the community have spent a great deal of time and attention on the issues that would be covered by the analysis laid out in the LDDA.  In the last year we have completed a Task Force process on retail mix in the Eastern Market area, we have created a Transportation Committee, we have created a stakeholder subcommittee for the express purpose of evaluation of the proposed Hine redevelopment, we have had five special call meetings to learn about and ask questions about the development in addition to two special call meetings to consider the operations of Eastern Market, including its interaction with the proposed development.

To a very significant degree, one of the constant refrains of this activity has been that ‘that will be dealt with by the PUD’ or ‘that will be addressed in the PUD application.’    To find that many of these answers are not addressed in the filing and that the information required for adequate community review is not available presents a significant problem for the next steps in the process.

We would request that all such information that has been agreed to in the LDDA be provided to the community within two weeks of any Zoning Commission decision to set down the application for public comment and hearing.

Relevancy of the LDDA

While we understand that the LDDA is not under the jurisdiction of the Zoning Commission and may be technically outside of its review, it is important to note that that the LDDA plays a central role from the community perspective.

It is also worth noting that the LDDA is not a document that received significant review or official approval from the community.  The prior Commission was significantly engaged in commenting on the terms for the RFP that was issued by the City, but the subsequent agreements between the City and the applicant do not necessarily reflect what would be considered an agreement between the applicant and the community.

The disposition of the Hine site transferred a significant amount of public space and prime land for an extremely low price to the developers.  One concern has been that many of the specific commitments made by the developers that spoke to the commensurate benefits to the community have either been removed from the project (e.g. Shakespeare theatre) or are currently the subject of intense debate (e.g. adequacy of space for a weekend flea market).  Additionally, given the central and visible location of this site, the community was promised exceptional design and architecture.  While this can be a matter of opinion, official comments from ANC6B and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society have raised significant concerns about at least some aspects of the project.

We ask that the Zoning Commission fully understand the terms of the LDDA and minimally hold the applicant to those same commitments to the fullest extent of its authority.

We thank you for your consideration of these matters.

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