Letter to the Editor: Cheh should back neighbors on Superfresh redevelopment

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The former Superfresh supermarket at 48th and Yuma streets NW sits vacant as the site awaits redevelopment. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2017)

I was among about a dozen residents from Citizens for Responsible Development who met on Dec. 4 with Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh to ask her to join us against Valor Development’s current proposal for the former Superfresh site at 48th and Yuma streets NW. We are for a responsible development at the site — one that fits in with the neighborhood, including a locally focused grocery store.

We presented her with our petition with 582 handwritten signatures so far, all from her Ward 3, opposed to Valor’s massive, two-building, five- to seven-story, 219-unit project that would be totally out of character with the existing two- to three-story single-family community. These signatures were gathered by volunteers who canvassed the neighborhood.

We explained that the Valor proposal will adversely affect American University Park and Spring Valley in many ways, including by overloading our streets with traffic and stressing our local schools and infrastructure. Valor’s plan is inconsistent with the D.C. Comprehensive Plan and has serious legal issues. The petition is part of a two-year effort to exercise the principle of participatory government to engage with residents as well as with our local representatives.

Council member Cheh’s reaction was dismaying, to say the least. She told a story of another petition and said dismissively, “Anybody can sign a petition.” In effect, she refused to act on her constituents’ behalf, beyond offering to arrange a long-sought meeting between Citizens for Responsible Development and Valor. Council member Cheh also refused to ask the D.C. Department of Transportation — which she oversees as chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment — to respond to the comments of our group’s expert on Valor’s transportation study. This study has numerous technical issues and includes the addition of 28 unnecessary street parking spaces.

As noted in its very name, Citizens for Responsible Development favors responsible development. The group does want this site redeveloped, and we look to our council member for support rather than hands-off indifference to her constituents’ position.

Richard Tatum, American University Park