by Borderstan.com June 19, 2013 at 9:00 am 6 Comments

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

A surprise appearance by unhappy neighbors caused Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont to recommend delaying approval of a proposed expansion of a row house at 1451 S Street NW.

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Expansion at 1451 S Street NW does not require zoning approval or variance of any kind. (Luis Gomez Photos)

ANC 2B voted unanimously at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 12, to ask DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to delay consideration of the project until its July meeting, a one-month delay. This reverses the recommendation to green-light the project made the previous week by ANC 2B’s Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee.

The project does not require zoning approval or variance of any kind.

Trout Design Studio, an architecture firm, presented in support of a proposal, which would add a third story with a master bedroom to the house. The third story will not be visible from the street, but will be visible from the rear alley.

Trout Design Studio presented letters of support from neighbors at 1435 and 1461 S Street. They also presented a letter of support from 1515 Caroline Street. This address, Trout Design Studio claimed, abutted the house from the rear. However, ANC Commissioners pointed out the abutting house to the rear actually fronts onto Swann Street. Caroline Street is one block north and one block west, across 15th Street.

The residents of the abutting house to the west appeared before the committee. “Things have not gone well,” one of them said.

The first meeting with the architects concerning the expansion had only occurred the previous Sunday, he said. The neighbor said he was concerned about how the expansion would change the block.

“This will be replicated on every house,” he said.

It was also reported that Trout Design Studio had tried and failed the previous evening to obtain an endorsement for the project from Dupont Circle Conservancy. The Conservancy does not normally provide official rationales for its decisions. A representative of the Conservancy explained the Conservancy was concerned because the expansion resembled ones they had seen that eventually became multi-residence condominiums.

Efforts by Trout Design Studio and the ANC to contact the abutting neighbor to the east were unsuccessful. This neighbor did not appear at the meeting. One of the residents of abutting house to the west reported that he contacted the man who lived in the abutting house to the east the previous Sunday.

“He does not use email,” he said. “He had no idea.”

In the light of this new information, Commissioner Noah Smith, 2B-09, withdrew his original motion to endorse the expansion, and the ANC instead requested a one-month delay to get more input from the neighbors.

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