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Decision Summary HPA No. 95-281
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- Tirnmeny and Connor Residence
- 312 4th St. SE
- Date of Order
HPA Number: 95-281
Case Name: In the Matter of Lot 809 - Square 820
Location of Property: 312 4th Street, S.E.
Date of Decision: July 3, 1997
Type of Permit Sought: Construction Alteration Permit (including a curb cut, driveway over public space and construction of wall, fence and gate) and Public Space Permit
Summary of Decision:
Michael D. Timmeny (the “Applicant”) requested reconsideration by the Mayor’s Agent of her previous denial of Applicant’s application for a construction alteration permit and public space permit (see HPA 95-281 decision dated 25-Apr-96), arguing among other factors that the Mayor’s Agent had not given “great weight” to the views of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (the “ANC”). Applicant sought the permits in order to build a driveway onto his property, which would result in a curb cut and driveway over the public space and require the construction of a wall, fence and gate. In her Reconsideration Decision and Order, the Mayor’s Agent granted Applicant’s application for the permits concluding that the proposed alteration was consistent with the purposes of the Act and was, therefore, considered necessary in the public interest as required by D.C. Code Ann. §5-1005(f) (D.C. Law 2-144, the Historic Landmark and Historic Protection Act of 1978 [the “Act”]).
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
Applicant filed a motion for reconsideration of a prior Mayor’s Agent decision in which the Mayor’s Agent denied the application, concurring with the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Review Board (the “Review Board”) that the proposed project was not consistent with the purposes of the Act. The motion claimed that the Mayor’s Agent failed to give great weight to the views of the ANC, which, based on its consideration of the impact of the proposed alteration on the ANC’s community, voted to “endorse the application” and found no impact on the community of the proposed alteration. The Mayor’s Agent made a finding of fact that the prior decision “failed to give great weight to the position of the [ANC] or to address the reasons for differing form that position; and failed to consider expert testimony presented at the hearing.”
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
The Mayor’s Agent concluded as a matter of law that “necessary in the public interest” means consistent with the purposes of the Act, which are, “with respect to properties in historic districts, to retain and enhance those properties, which contribute to the character of the historic district and to encourage their adaptation for current use; [and] to assure that alterations of existing structures are compatible with the character of the historic district….” See D.C. Code Ann. §5-1002(10) and §5-1001(b).
The Mayor’s Agent found that the alteration of the exterior and site of Applicant’s property in the historic district (Capitol Hill Historic District) was consistent with the purposes of the Act because it would retain and enhance the property which contributes to the character of the historic district in its restored state. The Mayor’s Agent made a finding of fact that the Applicant’s property had enough space to construct the driveway, gate and fencing to allow a parked vehicle to be parked out of sight beyond the greenspace, public sidewalk and beyond the front plane of the house. By placement of a parking area beyond the plane of the front wall of the house and completely off the public space, the alteration would provide for the adaptation of the property’s unique characteristics. In addition, the Mayor’s Agent cited the ANC’s “wholehearted” endorsement of the application as an additional element of Applicant’s satisfaction of its burden of showing that the proposed alteration was consistent with the purposes of the Act.
Necessary in the Public Interest:
The Mayor’s Agent made a finding of fact that the Applicant collected 60 signatures of residents in and around the Capitol Hill Historic District on petitions that read that they were informed of Applicant’s proposed application and supported his application, but the Mayor’s Agent quickly made another finding of fact that the “Act does not provide for a popular referendum as a test for a finding of ‘necessary in the public interest’.”
The Mayor’s Agent made a finding of fact that there is no “outright policy” by the Historic Preservation Review Board regarding curb cuts (e.g., whether they are consistent with the purposes of the Act or otherwise), and that an analysis of decisions recommending approval or disapproval of curb cuts reflect no common policy for the Capitol Hill Historic District or other historic districts.