Decision Summary HPA No. 07-383
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- Rich Residence
- 3401 Dent Place, NW
- Date of Order
HPA Number: 07-383
Case Name: In the Matter of: Brian E. Rich
Location of Property: 3401 Dent Place, N.W.; Square 1291, Record Lot 208
Date of Decision: 5/2/2008
Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Permit to install new planter boxes, entry patio and window alterations.
Disposition: Granted in part; denied in part.
Date of Case Summary: 07/03/2008
Summary of Decision:
Brian E. Rich (“Applicant”) proposed alterations to the corner entranceway of his home, a contributing building to the Georgetown Historic District. Applicant sought a permit to build an eight-inch masonry retaining wall at the edge of existing planters, install new planter boxes and an entry patio, and also to install a new door(s) plus new windows on three levels. Before seeking and obtaining approval, Applicant began and completed a portion of the alterations. (A building permit had been issued for the new door(s) and new windows.) Applicant claimed that the proposed changes were consistent with the purposes of the Act, and would be compatible with and enhance the property and the character of the historic district. Applicant failed to attend the hearing and put forth a case to sustain his burden that the alterations were necessary in the public interest. The Mayor’s Agent denied the application for planter boxes and entry patio because Applicant failed to demonstrate that the alterations were consistent with the purposes of the Act. The Mayor’s Agent granted the application for the window and door alteration to the extent those alterations would be in full compliance with the approved plans, building permit, and directives of the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (the “HPO”), but denied the application with respect to the masonry retaining wall, new planters and patio. The Mayor’s Agent further required that additional changes to the front entrance of the property could not be made without the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts (the “CFA”) or the HPO.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that the Applicant bears the burden of proof to establish that the proposed alterations are necessary in the public interest.
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that recommendations of the applicable Advisory Neighborhood Commission (the “ANC”) were entitled to “great weight” (the ANC made recommendations on three separate occasions opposing the grant of the application).
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
The Mayor’s Agent concluded that Applicant did not prove that the alteration of the entranceway to the residence was consistent with the purposes of the Act because Applicant he did not cite any legal authority for his position and did not put his legal position on the record. Additionally, the Mayor’s Agent would not condone Applicant’s “pattern of noncompliance,” whereby he completed work both in non-conformance with the building permit granted for a portion of the alterations and without a permit for the balance of the alterations (and all without prior CFA or HPO approval), and did not appear for the hearing.
Findings were made that Applicant’s alterations to the entrance walkway and planting beds infringed on public space and were not appropriate for such a historical structure with a corner entrance. While the flower beds already existed on Applicant’s property, Applicant sought to extend them, including a two- or three-course brick perimeter that would encroach on public space. Further, Applicant’s additional alterations would compromise the chamfered entrance characteristic of many properties in the Georgetown Historic District. Chamfered entrances are designed to be “welcoming” and “inviting,” and Applicant’s efforts would have “eliminated or reduced” such an appearance.
Applicant installed a fixed window on the second floor of the residence, contrary to approved plans submitted in connection with the issued building permit, which required a double hung window and sash. The Mayor’s Agent directed Applicant to work closely with the HPO staff to ensure that the “selected windows were compatible with the windows . . . currently in place, and likewise compatible with the window installation requirement[s] that are operable in the Georgetown Historic District.”