Decision Summary HPA No. 95-281
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- Timmeny Residence
- 312 4th St. SE
- Date of Order
HPA Number: 95-281
Case Name: In the Matter of Lot 809 – Square 820 312 4th Street, S.E.
Location of Property: 312 4th Street, S.E.
Date of Decision: 04/25/1996
Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Construction/alteration, including adding a curb cut
Date of Case Summary: 06/05/2007
Summary of Decision:
Michael D. Timmeny (the “Applicant”) applied for a construction alteration permit to construct a driveway onto his property that would include a curb cut. The Applicant’s property, 312 4th Street, S.E., is located in and contributes to the Capitol Hill Historic District. After the Historic Preservation Review Board recommended that the application be denied, the Applicant requested a public hearing before the Mayor’s Agent, who denied the application, determining that a curb cut would detract from the district’s historic character, is not needed to retain or enhance the property, and is not compatible with the character of the historic district.
*Note: On July 3, 1997, upon a request for reconsideration, the Mayor’s Agent reversed this decision and granted the application as consistent with the purposes of the Act. See HPA 95-281 decision dated July 3, 1997.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
• Though “[t]he Applicant collected approximately 60 signatures of residents in and around the Capitol Hill Historic District on petitions” that indicated their feelings that the curb cut is appropriate for and consistent with the purposes of the historic district, the Mayor’s Agent stated that he is not required to pay any deference to such information, in that “[t]he Act does not provide for a popular referendum as a test for a finding of ‘necessary in the public interest.’”
• Similarly, the Mayor’s Agent disregarded the fact that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted to endorse the curb cut; however, the Mayor’s Agent did not indicate what level of deference that organization is due (i.e., “great weight”).
• “[P]rior to making a finding, the Mayor shall refer an application not subject to review by the Commission of Fine Arts to the Historic Preservation Review Board for a recommendation.”
Necessary in the Public Interest:
The Mayor’s Agent will not determine that curb cuts are “necessary in the public interest” simply because there are curb cuts on other blocks of the Capitol Hill Historic District. Similarly, a “desire to have designated private parking does not rise to the level of being necessary in the public interest.”
According to testimony on behalf of the Applicant, “there is no ‘outright policy’ by the Historic Preservation Review Board regarding the appropriateness of curb cuts.” The Mayor’s Agent stated that he does not look to the existence of curb cuts in other blocks of the historic district as evidence in support of a finding of necessary in the public interest, but will look at the block in question, and noted that “[t]he integrity of the historic character and fabric of the streetscape, including intact curbs, has been maintained in the block containing the property.”
The Applicant’s property “is currently being used as residential property consistent and compatible with the character of the historic district.” Thus, it apparently contributes to the historic character of the district.
Applicant subsequently requested reconsideration of this denial, and the project was ultimately granted approval. See HPA Number 95-281, order date July 3, 1997.