|The proposed non-contributing homes|
Many renovations, large and small, done to buildings in a historic district are subject to review by DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). However, if a building is labelled "non-contributing", owners have a wider, if not complete, freedom if they wish to significantly modify their homes. For example, owners can demolish non-contributing buildings in a historic district without HPRB approval.
Commissioner supports constituents
Appearing with the homeowners at the meeting was ANC1B Commissioner Ricardo Reinoso (district 05). The homes in question fall in Reinoso's district, but he is not a member of the Design Review Committee.
Reinoso said the creation of the district is being co-sponsored by DC's Historic Preservation Office (HPO) and is scheduled for a December hearing.
Reinoso asked the Design Review Committee to recommend that the full ANC both endorse the historic district in general as well as agree that the four single-family homes (2313, 2315, 2317, and 2319 15th Street) are non-contributing.
The committee saw a new HPRB document on design guidelines for the historic district. The document included a photograph of 2517 15th Street as an example of a non-contributing building, calling it "[c]learly contemporary in design".
Two of the four homeowners also appeared in person to plead their case.
A close vote to support
Still, some members of the committee felt the 15th Street homes should be subject to HPRB review. This review would not impose an onerous additional administrative burden on homeowners, they indicated. Because these members could not agree to the classification of the four homes as non-contributing, they voted against endorsing the historic district.
The final vote was three for endorsing the Meridian Hill Historic District with non-contributing buildings, and two against. This is an unusually close vote for the committee.
Voting for the endorsement and the homeowners was Commissioner Tony Norman (district 10). Norman is the chair of both the Design Review Committee and the ANC as a whole, and is also the only elected official on the Design Review Committee.
Parts of the proposed new historic district will fall into ANC districts 1A, 1C, and 1D as well. ANC 1A/Columbia Heights unanimously passed a resolution supporting the creation of the new historic district in July. A report on the vote by the blog New Columbia Heights includes a map of the proposed historic district.
Reinoso reported that ANC 1C/Adams Morgan has also voted to support the district.
The matter will probably be voted on at the next meeting of the full ANC. This is scheduled for Thursday, November 7, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets)