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ANC 2B Okays Hindu Goddess Statue, Raps Historic Preservation Office

by Borderstan.com April 11, 2013 at 11:32 am 2 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B, at its monthly meeting last night, April 10, unanimously supported a request by the Embassy of Indonesia to erect a statue of a Hindu goddess on public space on Massachusetts Avenue NW. It also unanimously called on DC’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) to improve its operating procedures and communication both with ANCs and with the public.

"ANC"

An edited photo showing how the sculpture will appear in place on Massachusetts Avenue NW. (David McAuley)

Statue of Saraswati on Public Space

The Commission heard a presentation by Heru Subolo, Minister-Counselor for Press and Information Affairs of the Embassy of Indonesia, asking for ANC support for a proposed statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science, to be erected on a public space next to the grounds of the Embassy at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Subolo told the committee that the statue had been approved by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions. Subolo also said that the planned site for the statue had been moved, at the request of the DC government’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO), from its original planned location at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 21st Street (also adjacent to the Embassy), to a location next to the sidewalk further west along Massachusetts.

The location is currently fenced in. Subolo said that the fence would be removed to make the statue accessible to the public.

“I’m really happy to open up a fenced space,” said Kevin O’Connor, ANC commissioner for district 2B-02.

“This is a wonderful addition to our neighborhood and to our nation’s capital. Hindus across DC and around the world are ecstatic about this beautiful statue of Saraswati. It is so fitting that it will be installed just a stone’s throw from the also magnificent statue of Mahatma Gandhi — the only statue of a Hindu in DC,” said Kishan Putta, ANC 2B-04 commissioner.

The ANC voted 9-0 in favor.

Resolution on Historic Preservation Office

The DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO) has a new draft plan for the next four years and is soliciting comment. ANC 2B took the opportunity to approve a resolution outlining the ways it believes that the HPO and its parent organization, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), could work more effectively with ANCs and the public.

The resolution noted the following problems, among others:

  • Effective Enforcement: “…Frequently, violators pay a limited fine, sometimes as little as $500, but are not forced thereafter to actually correct the offending construction or work….”
  • Notice to ANCs: “…The HPO/HPRB is the only regulatory board that does not currently send a notice document directly to ANCs for each application within the respective ANC that will be on the board’s agenda. This is contrary to the practice of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the District Department of Transportation Public Space Committee, the Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Zoning Commission….”
  • Ensuring Timely and Fair Staff Reports: “…The HPO needs to release draft staff reports in time for relevant ANCs to weigh in and respond, before the HPRB hearing on the matter….In addition, the HPRB needs to ensure that staff reports are fair and cite all relevant precedent….”
  • Fair Appeals Process: “The plan should address the process for appealing an HPRB decision, which can be costly and slow….”

The ANC vote was 9-0.

1412 T Street New Construction

The Commission approved a resolution calling for a one-month delay in a new construction project at 1412 T Street. The proposed construction is a two-unit residential structure on a vacant lot. Both T Street neighbors adjacent to the location spoke last night.

“We totally welcome a new building,” one said. “But this is a total aberration on the block.”

“This is not in the context of the block,” the other agreed. “But I’d love to see a property there.”

The Commission agreed that the height and depth as proposed were not appropriate. It requested additional information from the developer’s representative and referred the matter back to the Zoning, Preservation, & Development Committee for reconsideration at its next meeting on May 7.

Liquor License Moratoriums

Commissioner O’Connor said that the ANC 2B Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Policy Committee would hold an additional listening session about the proposed 14th and U Street liquor license moratorium next Wednesday, April 17, at a location to be determined. The hearing will focus on ANC district 2B-09, which falls within the boundaries of the proposed moratorium.

O’Connor also said that he will present a “game plan” at ANC 2B’s May 8 meeting concerning the Dupont East Liquor License Moratorium, which will come up for renewal in September of this year. This moratorium is in effect on 17th Street. O’Connor is the chair of ANC 2B’s ABRA Policy Committee.

New ANC 2B Email Addresses

The Commission announced improvements to its website. On ANC2B’s commissioners and staff page, there are now group addresses which will deliver email to the entire ANC or its subcommittees through a single address. The addresses are:

ANC2B serves the Dupont Circle area.

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Comments (2)

  1. Indian Embassy?

    You mean the INDIAN embassy, right? Not Indonesian.

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