City Paper Widget

Friday, April 10, 2015

479 Ridge Street: "Any Change Is a Huge Deal"

Some homeowners on Ridge Street NW do not want any houses on their block expanding.

(Google Street View)
That's the message the homeowners of 479 Ridge Street got when they presented a proposal to Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw on April 7. The homeowners sought ANC endorsement on the project before they presented the concept for a three-story rear addition to their two-story house to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The project requires HPRB approval because it is located in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District.

An architect and the homeowners presented to the ANC. They said the rear addition would not be visible from the street. They wanted a staircase off the back of the present building to lead up to a master bedroom suite. The homeowners plan to live in the house.

The proposed addition would bring the height of the building up to 27 feet -- below the 35 feet the homeowners are allowed "by right" under zoning regulations. Similarly, after the proposed renovations, the house would be under 60% lot occupancy, meaning, the footprint of the house would not require zoning relief.

Commissioner Rachelle Nigro (district 04) said she had to oppose the request "because of the possibility it can be seen from the street". 479 Ridge Street is in Nigro's ANC district.

Nigro said she had spoken to or received emails from five Ridge Street residents in favor of the project, and eight against. The people in favor of the project, she said, were people who were seeking or thinking of seeking expansions themselves. Those against the expansions were uniformly people who had no interest in expanding their own homes.

For this latter group, Nigro said: "Any change is a huge deal."

Because of the desires of her constituents, Nigro said, she would have to oppose the expansion.

Three Commissioners then spoke up in favor of allowing the expansion: Kevin Chapple (district 02), Frank Wiggins (district 03), and ANC6E Chair Marge Maceda (Commissioner for district 05). 

Since the project is in Nigro's district, she was allowed to make the first motion on the project. Nigro moved to oppose the project. The motion died for lack of a second. The Commissioner Alex Padro (district 01) moved to approve the project. Padro's motion passed, five to one, with Nigro the sole vote against.

This is the second request in two months from Ridge Street that followed the same pattern: protesting neighbors, Nigro proposes a motion but fails to get a second, and then approval from the full ANC with Nigro against.

At the previous meeting last month, a Ridge Street resident told a homeowner and resident who wanted a rear addition to their house to either keep the house as it is or find somewhere else to live -- see SALM blog post of March 6. That homeowner, too, got approval from the full ANC.

This matter is on the agenda for HPRB's next set of meetings, the first of which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 23, at the Board's meeting room at 441 4th Street, Room 220 South (Judiciary Square metro). If all of the items on the agenda are not address, there will be a further meeting on April 30.

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