Zoning Board: St. Thomas Church Development Foes ‘Unpersuasive’
Longtime opponents of a plan to redevelop St. Thomas’ Parish (1772 Church St. NW) have ultimately been “unpersuasive,” The District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) said last week.
In an order published Friday, the panel granted developer CAS Riegler a zoning variance it initially requested roughly one year ago and elaborated on its decision against the parish’s redevelopment foes.
Some neighbors have opposed the plan to turn the St. Thomas Church site into a religious center and apartment complex on the grounds that the new building would be too tall, would deprive locals of public space and would be incompatible with the surrounding historic neighborhood.
However, the plan’s opponents have seemingly failed to win D.C.’s governing bodies to their side. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) last July voted to approve the project. Similarly, the BZA voted to give its blessing to the plan earlier this year in January.
The BZA wrote in its order that it found the “argument made by the parties in opposition to be unpersuasive.”
The board continues:
Much of the opposition was related to the loss of the park that the community has enjoyed. However, the park is actually the private property of the church, and the community does not have a right to use that space. Furthermore, both the CSN and the DCCA expressed concerns regarding the application’s compatibility with the historic district. However, the Board notes that in granting concept approval, the HPRB was required to find that such compatibility existed. And while the Board is not compelled to accept the HPRB conclusion, the evidence in the record clearly corroborates its finding.
In other words — at least in regard to grievances over lost green space — it’s private property, and the church can do with it as it pleases.
As Dupont ANC 2B chair Nicole Mann pointed out on Twitter, the BZA’s latest opinion may not bode well for opponents of developer PN Hoffman’s plan to build a seven-story mixed-used building at SunTrust plaza in Adams Morgan.
Foes of that plan have said the building would deprive locals of a community space. In response, developer PN Hoffman has said the plaza is private property.
h/t ANC 2B’s Nicole Mann for sharing the order with us