I'm including below the text of my Letter of Support for the Big Bear Cafe proposed zoning map amendment case, which I read during the ANC 5C meeting on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.
After considering this letter, several statements of support and opposition from community members, and feedback from subject matter experts attending the meeting from the Office of Planning, ANC 5C voted unanimously to support the Big Bear Cafe proposed zoning map amendment.
Here's the text of the letter:
Letter of Support
21 August 2012
Mr. Anthony J. Hood, Chairperson
DC Zoning Commission
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20001
Re: Single Member District 5C-03 Support for Zoning Case ZC 10-14
Dear Chairman Hood and Members of the Zoning Commission:
My name is Hugh Youngblood; I am Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District (SMD) 5C-03. This letter expresses the Single Member District’s strong support for the proposed Amendment to the DC Zoning Map (Zoning Case # 10-14) for the Big Bear Café (BBC), which is located in Commission 5C and specifically within Single Member District 5C-03.
I have reviewed the application, have met with the applicant, and have met with my constituents on the subject during meetings of ANC 5C, SMD 5C-03, and the Bloomingdale Civic Association. This series of reviews and meetings resulted in my support for the application based on the following rationale:
- An extensive majority of SMD 5C-03 constituents support the proposal and note the fair trade-off between the BBC’s history of acting as a good neighbor and the fact that the proposed zoning change would limit residents’ ability to have input into the property’s uses going forward.
- An overwhelming majority of other SMD 5C-03 community members (employers, employees, patrons, and community groups) support the proposal.
Signed petitions of residents living within a 200-foot radius of the BBC, signed petitions of support from the surrounding neighborhood, letters of support from community members and civic leaders, voiced support at our Single Member District meeting, and documented support from the Bloomingdale Civic Association demonstrate the strength of community support for the proposed zoning change.
In contrast, a small contingent of residents opposes the proposed map amendment. Their concerns include the following:
- A change from residential to commercial zoning would yield negative economic impacts for nearby homeowners who intend to hold their properties rather than sell them. Increases in property value translate into increases in property taxes.
- The change from residential to commercial zoning would eventually yield a significant increase in overall density of the surrounding area unwelcome by those who moved here for the small-neighborhood residential feel prior to the current spike in business development.
The applicant’s willingness to work with these persons to constructively address the concerns outlined above provides additional basis for support for the proposed zoning map amendment. To help mitigate the risks associated with these concerns, the applicant has agreed to take the following measures:
- Limit any future height increases to the building to a maximum of forty (40) feet total building height, which is the maximum height allowed for all R-4 residential buildings located in the area.
- Restrict the building density to "low-density" 1.5 FAR for any commercial use as restricted in the DC zoning code to retain with the same commercial density that currently exists
- Maintain the same noise restrictions as are required in R-4 zoning
- Consider adding covenants to the deed that bind future uses of the property by subsequent owners.
Community support for the BBC has been so consistently strong because its commercial use of the Property has been essential to the growth and revitalization of the community.Of the many ways the BBC has played that role, let me note four.
First, the BBC serves as a neighborhood hub and community gathering place for all. Before the BBC, Bloomingdale had very limited opportunities for many residents to come together socially.It added to the sense of a neighborhood square by assisting in the development of the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market, which expanded the scope and size of our “village green.”The BBC has also sponsored many community events from choirs from Haiti to poetry readings and art shows; all these events have deepened the sense and cohesiveness of Bloomingdale as a vital urban neighborhood.
Second, the BBC currently provides jobs for 5 families with children, 9 local families, 22 neighborhood residents, and 33 local residents.It contributes significantly to the District of Columbia business tax base, and its presence plays an essential role in the promotion of neighborhood business growth, local real estate sales, apartment rentals, neighborhood visibility, and community development.
Third, the BBC has won a variety of awards and accolades, all of which have benefited the Bloomingdale community.As a successful, locally owned and operated, neighborhood business, it earned the title of North Capitol Main Street “Neighborhood Business of the Year” in 2008. The BBC won the Mayor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2009. It was selected as a part of “Best of Washington” for the Washingtonian Magazine 2009-2011. Finally, the BBC was recognized for “Best Cappuccino” in the Washington Post Express.
Fourth, the BBC has contributed significantly to improved safety of pedestrians and others in the community as compared to the former use of the property.
Single Member District 5C-03 strongly supports the Map Amendment application for the BBC.I encourage the Zoning Board to look favorably on this application, and I ask that you vote in favor of the Map Amendment change so that the business at this location can continue to add value to our neighborhood, and continue to be a strong member of our developing community.
Thank you for your consideration.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner
Single Member District 5C-03
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns related to this matter.
ANC, SMD 5C03