Friday, December 22, 2006

A Scott Roberts Addition to the ANC Meeting

From Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale:
[1] Tidbits From This Past Tuesday's ANC 5C Meeting

I attended this past Tuesday, 12/19/2006, ANC 5C meeting. I took some notes, which I am presenting below. They are not intended to be comprehensive.

The commissioners in attendance were: Dianne Barnes, Marshall Philips, Debbie Smith, Jim Berry, Mary Lois Farmer-Allen, Robert Brannum, Cleopatra Jones, Derrick Holloway.

The commissioners-elect in attendance were: Anita Bonds, Barrie Daneker, Stuart Davenport, John Salatti, Kris Hammond, Silas Grant and Alison Defoe.

Councilmembers-elect in attendance were: Harry Thomas Jr.

Eckington Row Condominium Development

A gentleman named Richard Hanks from Renaissance Development described a condominium project in Eckington called Eckington Row at 301 & 305 Seaton Place NE and 1811 3rd Street NE. The project would like a zoning variance for a higher density. If the requested zoning variance is not obtained, the project will have 12 to 14 units, allowable as a matter of right. If the zoning variance is obtained, then Eckington Row will have 24 to 30 units. There will be offstreet parking. Mr. Hanks mentioned “teachers and firefighters” and scholarships in his discussion.

St. Martin’s Apartments

Neal Drobenare then presented the revised rendering for the St. Martin’s Apartments in Eckington. He said that the property owner and the DC Preservation League arrived at an agreement to preserve the convent building on the site and to relocate it to a corner. He briefly described the process by which the building would be moved to its new location. He said that he “had his doubts about the true historic nature of the convent.”

Mr. Drobenare indicated that the incorporation of the convent into the plan resulted in the reduction in density from 184 rental units to 176 rental units.

He said that the DC Office of Zoning asked for a change in the coloring of the building, which was accommodated. To me, the new design looked less gawdy than the prior design. Zoning also requested that entrances be added to the units that face Todd Place NE. So entrances have been added to every other unit that faces Todd Place NE.

It was mentioned that Mr. Drobenare had recently met with the commissioners-elect to discuss the project.
Some of the questions raised were about apartment leases, rules; regulations and tenant selection.

Mr. Drobenare then advised that there would be a community-wide meeting on Wednesday, January 10, 2007. It would be a meeting sponsored by St. Martin’s, ANC 5C, Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. and COVE (remember COVE - the neighborhood group that sponsored the series of mayoral forums prior to the primary election?) The meeting will have a facilitator. There will be small group discussions on safety, etc. One imagines that more details about this community meeting will be forthcoming.

The commissioners unanimously voted to “accept” (okay, did I get the correct verb here?) the changes made to the St. Martin’s Apartment building’s design.


Lieutenant Wright gave a brief crime report. He advised that he now works the 3 pm - 11 pm shift. He gave out his cell phone number 301 - 367 - 6276. Bloomingdale resident B H [Mari note: full name deleted] commented about the open-air outdoor drug market on the unit block of T Street NW.

New DHS Rental Assistance Program

Commissioner Debbie Smith distributed a copy of a new program from the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) called the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). “ERAP helps low-income District residents who face housing emergencies. A housing emergency happens when immediate action is needed to avoid homelessness, to re-establish a home, or to prevent eviction from a home.” The program “can generally pay for no more than five (5) months of overdue rent, and usually no more than a total of $4250. For security deposits and the first month’s rent, ERAP can pay up to $900. You can only receive help from ERAP once in a twelve month period.” There is no ERAP info at the DHS website, but there should be posted there sometime in January 2007.

Some Resolutions

Commissioner Brannum submitted four resolutions, which the Commission approved:

- to honor Linda Cropp
- to recognize Vincent Orange
- to recognize the service of the outgoing ANC 5C commissioners whose terms end in January
- to honor two public school teachers who assisted him with education issues.

Treasurer's Report

Treasurer Cleopatra Jones read off the current bank balances. The commission checking account balance is around $67,000 and the saving account balance is around $125,000, I believe. There was some discussion about continuing to pay rental storage fees to store ANC 5C documents and old furniture and equipment.

Councilmember-Elect Thomas' Brief Comments

- The DC Zoning Commission will start looking at the redevelopment of the Rhode Island Avenue Plaza
- Mr. Thomas asked that storm water management be considered in the development of the Old Soldiers' and Sailor's Home site
-The New Town deal was passed. Some discussion about return rights for tenants, active participation of LSDBE's in the project, 20% to 40% of the residential development at New Town will be affordable.

Grant Requests

Okay, this is where the meeting got reallllllllllllly interesting.

If you have ever attended an ANC meeting, you likely have observed that grant requests usually take months and months and months and months to get discussed and eventually voted on -- either to support the grant request or to deny it. And the grant amounts usually issued are not all that large -- a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dolllars. And there has been a general rule or practice that a grant requestor's grant request could not be voted on at the same meeting that the grant requestor presented his/her grant request to the commissioners.

With this in mind, let's review the evening's grant requests --

a) At a prior ANC 5C meeting, Truxton Circle resident Art Slater requested a grant (sorry, I don't know what for) for $7000 for the Bates Area Civic Association (BACA). The commission voted to approve the BACA $7000 grant request.

b) Bloomingdale resident B H and treasurer of the Bloomingdale Civic Association presented her grant request for two activities: 1) a series of quarterly leadership summits, and 2) a professional mediation service for community conflicts. These two activities would have a two-year duration. The grant amount requested was $12,455. After much animated discussion, the commissioners voted to approve Bertha's grant request. Commissioner Berry commented that the auditors have indicated that training is not allowed for ANC grant money. It was noted that while using ANC grant funds for food is disallowed, grant funds are permitted for light refreshments.

c) Bloomingdale resident and Bloomingdale Civic Association Beautification Committee Chair Cassandra Costley then made her presentation for funding for the two pocket parks at 1st & Rhode Island Avenue NW. These are the two adjacent parks in front of the City Cleaners. The project would also include the median strips of Rhode Island Avenue NW between 2nd Street NW and North Capitol Street NW. Cassandra's grant request was to update these three areas. After much discussion back and forth, the commisioners voted to let "the new set of commissioners taking office in January to weigh on this grant application."

d) Eckington resident Ted McGinn spoke on the grant request from Bloomingdale resident Andrew Pollard who was seeking a grant for $21,000 for wrought iron treebox fences for the 100 block of Randolph Place NW. The commission voted to let "the new set of commissioners taking office in January to weigh on this grant application."

e) Eckington resident Ted McGinn spoke on the grant request from Bloomingdale resident Rod Terry and three organizations: the Neighbors of Seaon Place, the R Street Restoration Committee and Metropolitan Wesley AME Zion Church at North Capitol; R Street NW. The grant application had many aspects to it, most of which I did not jot down. But the central item was a statue to commemorate Harriett Tubman to be erected on the grounds of the church somewhere, I think. DId you know that Metropolitan Wesley was a participant in the underground railroad? The grant amount requested was around $12,000. At first, the commissioner voted to "the new set of commissioners taking office in January to weigh on this grant application." But then, after suspending the commission's bylaws, the commission voted to approve the Harriett Tubman grant request. Perhaps someone from COVE, the R Street Restoration Committee or Neighbors of Seaton Place can provide some more info on this project....?

So the total amount of grant moneys approved was around $31,455. Whoa!

I have a feeling that when the new commissioners take office in January, that we might see a change in policy and practice of ANC grants.

[extra notices deleted by Mari]

== Scott ==
Added correction from meeting attendee:
I wish to remind you that in response to these comments, I pointed out to Mr. Berry that the BCA request did not involve training, nor did it request funds for food or any kind of refreshments and included specific language noting that funds for refreshments would be solicited from other sources. Also, Cleopatra Jones responded to Mr. Berry and noted that she had asked the General Counsel’s office to review the proposal and he ruled that all proposed activities and costs were indeed allowable. Also, the ANC did not suspend their Bylaws, rather they suspended their Policies & Procedures.