City Paper Widget

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2131 N Street: ANC2B Asks for Delay, but Historic Preservation Goes Ahead with Approval

At its regular monthly meeting on September 10, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle voted to ask for a delay in the consideration of the case of a two-story rear addition at 2131 N Street NW. But DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) went ahead and gave it tentative approval anyway on September 18.

(Google Street View)
Like most properties in Dupont Circle, 2131 N Street is in a historic district -- in this case, Dupont Circle Historic District. Significant changes to the exterior of the building require the approval of HPRB.

The owners and their representatives from architecture firm Soe Lin & Associates appeared before ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee on September 3. They showed drawings and described the proposed addition, which will extend the house a further 10 feet, 9 inches, to the rear. The highest point of the building will be 4 feet, 3 inches above the current height. However, the added height will be completely in the rear of the building and will not be visible from N Street.

The addition would be built in an area which currently has a walk-out deck. Behind the deck, there is a parking space. A trellis would also be added over the parking space.

Density, whether up or behind, is always an issue in this area.

"Do we want more rear additions?" a committee member asked.

The committee also asked if the neighbors had been consulted. The applicant said they had tried to contact one neighbor, but the neighbor worked for the World Bank and was out of town for a long period.

One member of the committee suggested support for the project if the applicant provided evidence that the neighbors were contacted.

Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06) was concerned that there were no pictures provided of the view down the alley. 2131 N Street is in Silverstein's ANC district.

In the end, the ZPD Committee voted to table a decision until October, and ask the applicant to come back both with evidence of consultations with the neighbors and with more pictures showing what the project might look like when completed.

This decision was ratified by the full ANC, as mentioned above. All six Commissioners present at the full ANC meeting voted in favor of the motion.

The letter sent by ANC2B to HPRB, dated September 16, can see seen here. It asks for "additional time for neighborhood input".

On September 18, HPRB staff recommended approval to the project -- see document here. HPRB staff found the "overall concept" of the renovation consistent with historical preservation but suggested the architect revise some of the details, including those involving materials and windows.

The project will be back before the ZPD Committee anyway. Assuming that the HPRB management signs off on the staff's recommendation, the next step will be for the homeowners to get a zoning variance for lot occupancy from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). According to DC Zoning code, the footprint of this building should cover no more than 60 percent of the lot. With the new addition, it will cover nearly 70 percent.

ANC input is solicited for zoning variances. This will give the ANC another chance to see if there was any consultation with the neighbors and address other concerns.

The zoning variance may be considered at the ZPD Committee's next meeting on Wednesday, October 1, at 7pm, at the Dupont Circle Resource Center (9 Dupont Circle). Any decision made would then be considered by the full ANC, scheduled to meet at 7pm, October 8, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

A BZA hearing on 2131 N Street is on the BZA calendar for October 28.

Plans, including architectural drawings of the proposed addition, submitted by the owners in support of their request for a zoning area variance can be seen by going to the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18844 in the search bar.

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