image excerpted from 901monroe.com
Last night’s marathon meeting of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association was the most well-attended meeting in years, and the reason was clear: passions are running high in the neighborhood over the 901 Monroe Street proposed development. The project, proposed at 61-feet with a C-2-B zoning is very controversial in the neighborhood over what some see as an encroachment on Brookland’s planned design. Approximately 120 members met in the Turkey Thicket Rec Center in Ward 5 to discuss the project, and to help the BNCA decide their position ahead of ANC5A and Zoning Commission hearings that will decide the project’s fate come January.
Each member of the Civic Association, which draws its membership from both residents and businesses in the Ward 5 neighborhood, was permitted a minute to support or oppose the project in front of the audience. Most of the members kept their comments polite and clear, and in the end, a 51-49 vote resulted in the BNCA being bound to support the development.
At issue from the neighbors opposing the development were concerns over the precedent being set by C-2-B zoning, which grants 65 feet of height by right, and up to 90 feet in Planned Unit Development. Flyers handed out by ANC 5A07 Carolyn Steptoe were suggesting that this would allow any developer to ask, and be granted, 90-foot buildings in Brookland’s residential neighborhoods without opposition.
Most of the residents within 200 feet of the project felt that the development’s 61 feet were too high for the neighborhood, and all who live within that distance spoke in opposition to the project, citing both concern over the height of the development and a lack of an open dialogue with the developing group. One of the 200-footers in an impassioned plea said that she “could not afford to move” from her house behind the development, but an increase in density would make it impossible for her to park near her home.
The development group, anchored by Horning Brothers and the Menkiti Group, but also including the proprietor of Colonel Brooks Jim Steigman, had many supporters from both business groups and residents in the neighborhood. There was significant approval for the design, done by DC-favorite Esocoff & Associates from neighbors and business members alike, as well as the prospect of additional amenities for the neighborhood, and additional residents designed to help bolster foot traffic for businesses on the Monroe/12th Street axis.