The Zoning Commission met five times recently to hear the District’s application to zone the 25-acre McMillan Sand Filtration Site (the part of McMillan Park east of 1st Street, NW, purchased from the Army Corps of Engineers in 1987), on May 1st, 5th, 8th, 13th, and the final public hearing on the 27th.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) jointly with its chosen development partner, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP – principal partners are EYA, Trammell Crow, and Jair Lynch companies) have applied for CR/C-3-C zoning for the site under a Planned Unit Development (PUD) plan which would allow the construction of 130-foot tall buildings. Each hearing began at 6:30PM and ran for over four hours. This case, referred to as ZC 13-14, was the only case considered at each evening hearing. The Zoning Commission will hold two additional meetings on this case, with the DMPED/VMP applicant and the Friends of McMillan Park (which has been granted party status in this case) before a meeting on July 28th when the Zoning Commission will make a decision on the case.
Some documents submitted during the hearings may be of interest to Historic Washington readers, especially those with bearing on the history and uses of the site. Those who want to see the whole presentation, please see the bottom of this message for information on how to access all the documents and the video recordings of the hearings online. The main document laying out the application and request to zone the site CR/C-3-C is in exhibit #6, “Statement in Support.”
Here is a very subjective list of testimony presented that Historic Washington readers may find of interest. Much of the public testimony concerned the horrific traffic this proposed development would cause (without any reasonable attempt to mitigate the traffic problems) and destruction of much of the site and the majestic views across the site. Hundreds of drawings and diagrams of the proposed plan are also included in the total document file for ZC 13-14. I attended all the hearings and participated as a member of the Friends of McMillan Park party in opposition, and would be happy to provide any other information about the contents of the hearings and documents related to it at email@example.com. I will not hazard a guess about how the Zoning Commission will rule on this case, though several commissioners indicated anger at the traffic problems caused with no plausible mitigation and some rather serious deviation from the Comprehensive Plan.
- Testimony of Anne Sellin, Friends of McMillan Park, exhibit #5. Ms. Sellin is the author of the DC Historic Landmark application for the McMillan site, approved in 1991. Testimony authoritatively traces the history of the park and waterworks and its historically important elements, and argues that the DMPED/VMP plan is in gross violation of specific elements of the Comprehensive Plan.
- The neighboring Bloomingdale and Stronghold Civic Associations submitted constructive criticism of the proposed development, see exhibits #31, #33, and #146. Bloomingdale Civic Association also submitted a letter requesting that the ANC’s support for the development should be rescinded because it did not have the support of the community, exhibit #69. The Friends of McMillan Park requested and was granted party status in this case, arguing that the requested zoning would permit destruction of this historic landmark, precluding more creative community-based uses of the site, and causing horrific traffic problems, see exhibit #34.
- The deed conveying the McMillan Site to the District contains a historic preservation covenant that DMPED/VMP seeks to nullify. The deed is exhibit #74 and that historic preservation covenant is at page 9 of the deed.
- In 2002 the Office of Planning conducted a series of community meetings concerning the future of the site, concluding that significant parks and open space and re-use of the historic features of the site were of key importance, and that the site is not appropriate for high-rise buildings of any kind. That report is exhibit #72.
- There was a Request for Proposals (RFP) concerning development of the site, a “Solicitation for Land Development Partner” issued in 2006, which requested a series of feasibility studies, on the basis of which a Phase II RFP would have solicited design proposals for the site. But that process was skipped when DMPED “selected” VMP as its partner. See exhibit #73 for that RFP. DMPED then signed an Exclusive Rights Agreement with VMP, whereby VMP would have no competition for the design or land purchase, see exhibits #75-#78. Trammell Crow was brought in to the VMP team in 2009 based on a determination that the project wasn’t financially viable for VMP without the high-rise building. See an e-mail obtained through a FOIA request concerning that at exhibit #87.
- A 1990 NCPC report detailed the historic viewshed sightlines from the Soldiers’ Home, exhibit #541. On May 27th, the NCPC requested that the Zoning Commission allow the record to remain open for an additional 45 days so that the NCPC could consider the impact of the proposed development on the historic viewshed from the Soldiers’ Home, see exhibit #814.
- George Oberlander, former Associate Director of the NCPC, provided expert testimony that the proposed zoning is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, see exhibit #691.
- Elizabeth Merritt, Deputy General Counsel with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, testified that the proposed PUD application is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan in several specific areas and cited the binding nature of the historic preservation covenant in the McMillan deed. See exhibit #715.
- Testimony from the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) objecting both to this plan which ignores the 2002 Summary of Recommendations for Site Revitalization of McMillan Park and several specific immediate negative environmental impacts the project would cause, exhibit #635.
- Alma Gates testified that the PUD is inconsistent with both the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map, arguing that C-2-A, not C-3-C zoning is more appropriate for the site. See exhibit #770
- Nancy McWood, Chair of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, testified concerning the damage this proposed plan would cause to the historic fabric of Washington, but that testimony is available only on video, no text of that testimony is available on the Zoning web page.
How to view video recordings of the hearings:
How to read all documents filed in this case:
Transcripts of the hearings will be available in a few weeks.
Many documents were filed in this case, including documents related to the application itself, and the written testimony of hundreds of persons supporting and in opposition to the zoning DMPED/VMP requested. Those documents are available here:
Then enter “13-14” in the search box and press “go.” Case Number 13-14 will be visible. Press “view details” on the far right. On the next screen, under “Case Documents” on the right, press “view full log.” This will bring you to 21 pages of files of documents, each with a unique exhibit number, for case number ZC 13-14.