Historic Preservation

CAG Pushes for Neighbor Notification Legislation

Pamla Moore and Richard Hinds testified at the DC Council of the Whole Council on May 29 regarding the proposed Neighbor Notification Legislation put forth by Councilmember Jack Evans, and actively supported by CAG. Councilmembers Mendelsohn and Grasso were both sympathetic to the need for neighbor notification in historic districts. Chairman Mendelsohn stated he would work with his staff try to meld the Evans bill with a second Graham bill and take into account Office of Planning’s surprise testimony in opposition to both bills.

Office of Planning’s David Maloney objected to both bills on the grounds of burden on HPRB staff and on homeowners who want to do a small project like replace windows, fence, or signage. He said that such minor projects are subject to expedited review by HPRB staff and approved on an over the counter basis and account for 95% of the 4,500 applications submitted to HPRB annually. [OGB does not have a similar process.]

A witness appeared who had been monitoring the hearing on TV and testified about a project to renovate a three story apartment building in his neighborhood that had been approved by HPRB staff on an expedited basis – and was “ an abomination.” He suggested there may be a need to separate what projects require notice and those that are too insignificant to require notices. But insisted that the case he sited exemplified that the current HPRB expedited review process does not do the job.

Chairman Mendelsohn wants to work on a compromise that permits expedited review and approval of permit applications of small projects without notifying every neighbor within 200 feet. CAG’s Historic Preservation and Zoning Committee will continue to push for effective legislation.

A link to CAG Neighborhood Notification Testimony can be found HERE

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