Notes from the ANC 3/4G Mtg from the Week of 2/25/19


ANC 3/4G – Chevy Chase

At the Feb. 25 meeting:

* Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton reported she has 197 House of Representatives co-sponsors for HR (House Resolution) 51 to make the District the 51st state. She expects the bill to pass the Democratic controlled House, but doubts it will pass the Republican controlled Senate.

     She expects legislation to pass turning over RFK Stadium to the District to do with as it will. She is hopeful a bill will pass allowing the District and state governments and private industry to invest to rehabilitate national parks.

     She doubts legislation will pass outlawing government shutdowns as conservative Republicans, when they are in control, could simply pass continuing resolutions to prevent new issues from being funded. 

* The City Council oversight hearing on the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions is scheduled for March 4. Commission 3/4G has asked for a written statement on what types of grants commissions can male. 

* Commissioner Rebecca Maydak asked residents to call 911 when their security cameras spot suspicious people. Commissioner Abraham Clayman reported Wise Road will be closed while the National Park Service makes repairs and that the Pinehurst Tributary cleanup will be on Saturday, April 13 starting at 9:00 a.m. The cleanup meeting spot will be the corner of Oregon Avenue and Beach Drive.

     Commissioner Chris Fromboluti said his committee will monitor the design plans for the renewed Chevy Chase Community Center and that Commission Chair Randy Speck will chair the committee overseeing the construction. Both committees are looking for members. The selection of the architect is scheduled for April and the design contract will be issued May 1 at the earliest. 

* Oregon Avenue is now open and the sewer project there will end soon. Bingham Drive remains closed until December as plans are on hold by the National Park Service, which is unsure as to how long it will take. Parts of Beach Drive are also closed.

* Peter Lynch of the Ward 3 Democrats described his volunteer work at the grass roots for D.C. statehood.   

* Commissioner Rebecca Maydak reported that the new Lighting Advisory Panel, which will not have decision making authority, will meet on second Tuesdays in the Wilson Building. 

     The business districts and Wards 7 and 8 like brighter lights than do residential areas in Wards 2, 3 and 4. The Department of Transportation wants the same type of lights throughout the city for financial reasons. Maydak said she has requested different options for different neighborhoods. 

     Very bright lights, which she said are wanted by the Department of Transportation, produce more glare, which would be a challenge for older drivers and produce sleeping problems and affect plant growth. It could also affect the Naval Observatory’s ability to get accurate data on stars.

* The commission voted 6-0 to approve WMATA’s restoration plans for the bus terminal at 5720 Connecticut Ave. at Oliver Street, but asked that it have multiple community uses and not just be a rest room for bus drivers as they park their busses. Commissioner Chris Fromboluti said there is currently no consideration being given for other uses such as hosting a farmers’ market.

     Commissioner Dan Bradford said the commission is happy WMATA is finally getting around to restoring the historic building which is not cheap. The plans will meet national historic site standards.  

     Chevy Chase Citizens Association Vice President Robert Gordon, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner, described the building as decrepit, but asked if WMATA’s plans for it are the best and highest use for the property, particularly as it would not be available to the public.  He said the commission should even consider commercial uses for it.

     Commission Chair Randy Speck  pointed out that WMATA does not want to give the property up, to which Gordon answered the building is seldom used. 

* The commission voted 5-0-1, with Dan Bradford abstaining, to criticize the Department of Transportation’s revised plans for Small Cell Guidelines. Small cell infrastructure includes antennas and related power equipment that transmits wireless signals to improve data reliability with new technologies. 

     Commissioner Gerald Malitz said the revisions did not consider the commission’s health related concerns in that there were no scientifically reliable studies demonstrating the installations would not pose undue health risks for residents. 

     The resolution referred to letters from doctors about cell towers near schools and that “many studies have linked low-level wireless radio frequency radiation exposure to a long list of adverse biological effects.” 

     Rather than winning the race to establishing modern 5G cellular communications, the commission resolution “considers the protection of residents’ health and welfare to be the District’s highest priority.”

     The guidelines criticized by the commission allow 5G antennas to be mounted on poles in front of residents’ homes “and there would be little the resident could do about it.”

     The commission urged the Mayor, Council and Attorney General to oppose the imposition of small cell wireless and 5G technology “unless scientifically reliable studies demonstrate that they pose no undue health risks for residents or their pets.” 

     Commissioner Chris Fromboluti was very critical that the towers would be just 200 feet apart and would be “visual clutter.”     

* The commission unanimously approved Commission Chair Randy Speck’ proposed testimony to a City Council committee asking that the fees paid by residents and office owners to pay for facilities to prevent human waste and trash from entering the Potomac and Anacostia rivers — particularly during storms — be partially paid by the District taxpayers, to the tune of about $40 million annually, to cover the stormwater runoff costs caused by city’s impervious streets, alleys and sidewalks.   

     It also unanimously approved proposed testimony criticizing the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs before the City Council’s Committee of the Whole “for not taking clear and decisive action to remedy the nuisance and safety hazard created by the negligence and incompetence of the owner/developer of the properties at 5301 and 5303 Connecticut Ave.”

     The Department “has permitted the property to become derelict, hazardous, and a potential haven for vagrants with unknown tendencies” despite repeated complaints over a two-year period, the approved testimony stated. 

      “The stench  from the potable toilet placed in the yard (of 5301) and untouched for many weeks was obnoxious,” a neighbor complained to the area commissioner. By February of 2018 “5301 Connecticut had become a virtual dump,” the testimony stated.

     “Even after multiple emails and phone calls by residents and Commissioner Fromboluti over the past two years, DCRA has taken no action. … The Council should insist that DCRA enforce the law to abate this situation with immediate corrective actions.”

Amina Ndiaye and Davis Kennedy contributed to this coverage.