Friday, April 25, 2014

Kirby Vining: "Zoning Commission to hear request to zone McMillan Park for massive redevelopment" -- Thursday, 05-01-2014

Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2014 05:57:54 -0700
Subject: [HistoricWashington] Zoning Commission to Hear Request to Zone McMillan Park for Massive Development, May 1

On Thursday, May 1st, the Zoning Commission will hear an application to zone the 25-acre portion of McMillan Park owned by the District of Columbia for CR and C-3-C zoning, which would allow the city’s proposed high rise buildings and massive development of the site. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, jointly with its consultant, Vision McMillan Partners, is making application to demolish the landscaped park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and the underground slow sand filtration works which may be the last example standing of this historic method of purifying water.  Several groups and individuals are opposing the requested zoning for this overdevelopment and have submitted testimony to that effect, including the Stronghold Civic Association, the Bloomingdale Civic Association, and the Friends of McMillan Park, arguing variously that the proposed development is not appropriate for this park surrounded by neighborhoods of row houses, that it would overly stress local water and traffic infrastructure, that it would result in unnecessary destruction of the historic site atop the plateau overlooking downtown, and that it would preclude more creative possibilities to reuse the historic park and water works infrastructure in ways more appropriate for the neighborhood and the history of our city.

The city’s planned development has not benefitted from a design competition or RFP and would result in destruction of over 80% of the historic elements of the site, according to the October 2013 Historic Preservation Review Board denial of the development application.  The site has both DC Historic Landmark status and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and will have to be presented to the Mayor’s Agent for a demolition permit. The site is now unzoned.  The Comprehensive Plan argues that no more than moderate-level development is appropriate for the site and recommends consideration of memorials for the site given its history and majestic views of the downtown area.

McMillan Park is part of the McMillan Plan and is in fact the only existing memorial to the work of Senator James McMillan to beautify our national capital, dedicated in his memory by Secretary of War William Howard Taft upon McMillan’s sudden death before the completion of the park in 1902.  This is also the only example known to me of plans to demolish a Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. park. 

Readers may wish to testify, in writing or in person, at the zoning hearings.  There are three zoning hearings for this application, known as case No. 13-14, on Thursday, May 1st at 6:30PM, Monday, May 5th at 6:30PM, and Thursday, May 8th at 6:30PM, and a fourth hearing on May 13th has been scheduled in case these hearings require more time. Please see details below on presenting your views to the Zoning Commission for these important hearings.

To see all documents submitted for these hearings online go to:, enter 13-14 in the ‘search term’ box, and hit ‘go.’ (13-14 is the “zoning case number” for the proposed McMillan development).  At the bottom of the page, beside information about case 13-14, hit ‘view details.’ On this page, under the ‘case documents,’ hit ‘view full log’ and all the documents filed concerning this case will be visible, currently about 5 pages of them. To view any of these documents, click on ‘view’ on the far right side of any document. 

To give oral testimony at the hearings:
       Submit a copy of your written testimony before the hearing (see below) OR bring 12 copies with you to the hearing.  Only 3 minutes are allowed for each speaker, 5 minutes for organizations, so submitting longer written testimony you can refer to in your 3 minutes may help. The hearings will all be at 441 4th St., NW, Suite 220 South, all at 6:30PM. (Metro rail to the Judiciary Square station)

To submit written testimony:
       Go to this web page to create an “IZIS Account” (necessary to submit any documents):
Then go to this page and log in with the login/password you created above:
Click on “file documents in an existing case,” and then specify case number 13-14, and ‘select’ that case in the next window. Click ‘choose file’ to select the document on your computer that you wish to submit as your written testimony, then select ‘document type.’  If you oppose the planned development you would select ‘Letter in Opposition.’ Your letter should explain your position and why you think McMillan should not be zoned to permit high-rise buildings. Then hit ‘Submit’ and your document should soon be visible in the list of documents for case 13-14 (see instructions above for how to see all documents for these hearings).  

Kirby Vining

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