Sunday, December 04, 2016

Friends of McMillan Park: What's up with the McMillan groundbreaking ceremony? The DC Court of Appeals case decision has not been issued yet, etc.

Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2016 6:35 PM
Subject: [HistoricWashington]
Mayor`s `groundbreaking` event at McMillan
A note from the Friends of McMillan Park:

            We learned late last week without notice that Mayor Bowser will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the city's planned development of the McMillan site on Wednesday, December 7th at 11am (see announcement here).  

So what's up with that?  The D.C. Court of Appeals has not yet handed down a decision on the case, and no building/demolition permits have been issued for the site, right?  That's correct.  The Friends of McMillan Park is the lead plaintiff in that challenge of the D.C. zoning and historic preservation decisions enabling the project, and we'd know right away if the court had handed down a decision.  It hasn't.  We think the decision may come in January 2017.   
So why is the Mayor doing this?  DMPED and the Office of the Mayor are not exactly on speaking terms with the Friends of McMillan Park, so they haven't confided in us what's behind all this.  But we suspect that what motivates the permit applications and this groundbreaking event is the fact that a number of key entitlements that the city awarded to enable the project are about to expire.  The zoning order that approved the first stage Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the site in November, 2014 (zoning order in case 13-14) and the land disposition and surplussing legislation from the D.C. Council dated December 2014, and perhaps other subsidiary documents, expire after two years from issuance, which is right about now.  So, we presume, these actions -- groundbreaking and permit application -- are formal gestures sufficient to make sure these entitlements don't expire.  Looking at this from the city's point of view, if the court were to rule in the city's favor (which we of course do not want nor expect), but the PUD and other key entitlements had expired, the city would have to redo all the expired entitlements supporting the project.  If you'd like to see the permits the city has applied for, visit the DCRA permits page and look for 2940 North Capitol Street, NW, the mythical address of this yet-unbuilt project. For those of you anxious to have a look tonight, DCRA has taken down the page for maintenance but it should be back up Monday. 
So if that's the case, that this is not actually the beginning of demolition/construction on the project, why didn't DMPED and the Mayor say so in the event announcement? We wish we knew. The Washington Business Journal immediately picked up on the fact that this matter is not even out of court yet.  The city's announcement did not say that construction would begin right away, but it led a lot of people to assume that. The city has not been too open or transparent in this process, so at least they're consistent.   Other than extending the life of the entitlements and sowing widespread confusion, the city is doing nothing of substance with this groundbreaking ceremony that we know of.  Have a good time, RSVP for the event, and please extend to her honor the Mayor continued assurances of our highest consideration.  

Kirby Vining


1 comment:

  1. I tweeted @CurbedDc to ask them how they can have a groundbreaking ceremony about something not yet decided in the courts.