Latest Update: Sunday, December 16, 2012
(Select thumbnail for larger photo.)
1. There is no buffer area between the proposed building and the
(Two diagrams to left.)
The first drawing to the left shows the original renderings from the building the
developer proposed in the 1989. In addition, an approximation of the elevation of
the taller current building has been penciled in.
The adjacent home on the left in the rendering is 3710 Military Rd. (also owned
by Cafritz). Currently proposed structure includes only a 16 foot alley/parking
entrance/loading entrance "buffer" with massive traffic. Homes on the north side
of Military sit 12-15 feet lower still than those shown here. The towering structure
would reflect road noise and bring winters and late afternoons of perpetual
darkness to these homes completely changing the feel of formerly heavily treed
In its 1989 presentation, Cafritz argued that 3710 Military and 3737 Kanawha
St. would act as a "buffer." Our neighborhood's view is that an R-1-B historic home
is not a buffer regardless of ownership, but instead requires a substantial buffer
from a substantially taller, denser, incompatible neighboring land use.
Rewarding a developer for tearing down R-1-B homes adjacent to higher density
zoning areas by rezoning these vacant lots would set a terrible precedent for
future development in Chevy Chase.
2. The building would cause enormous parking issues in an already
While parking spaces are plentiful during the day, given that nearly everyone in
the neighborhood drives to work, night-time parking is extremely difficult ALREADY
for a few reasons:
Many of the pre-WWI houses in the area were not designed to include
The neighborhood is also already paying the price for past zoning mistakes.
Two multifamily buildings were built in the late 1950s on Connecticut between
Jocelyn and Kanawha St. with very deficient parking. A majority of the cars
that park on Kanawha St. and Military are residents in the adjacent apartment
buildings, as well as in buildings even further away.
The site is approximately 7/10ths of a mile from the Friendship Heights
metro and 1.4 miles from Van Ness.
3. The only loading dock, construction and underground parking lot
entrance to the building would be through an extremely narrow alley,
rather than off Military or Connecticut. The alley (between Military & Chevy
Chase Parkway, shown below), is between 10 and 16 feet wide and would
become a thoroughfare, with substantial traffic and pedestrian/resident
(One diagrams to left.)
The entrance as proposed would encourage use of the alley to avoid Military
Road and Connecticut Avenue intersection traffic.
This configuration would direct a significant amount of traffic INTO the
surrounding quiet neighborhood, including Chevy Chase Parkway, and Kanawha,
Jocelyn, and Jennifer streets.
4. There is nothing about the building that is actually focused on the
Connecticut Avenue corridor.
The formal walking "entrance" to the building is on Connecticut Avenue, but
almost the entire density of the building is focused on Military Rd. and Kanawha St.,
with separate entrances from those streets' wings.
The Connecticut Avenue entrance serves only as a tiny connector segment
between the two main wings of the building, which extend far down Kanawha St.
and Military Rd.
Most building ingress and egress would be by car both from the underground
parking and the cars that will be parked in surrounding neighborhoods.
5. The building would cause substantial light problems for the adjacent
residents, both in the form of light blocked and light reflected from the
angular all-glass building.
(One diagrams to left.)
A sunlight study was completed by the developer in 1989 (left) and showed the
substantial impact. The new building's impact would be even higher, with a larger,
more prominent penthouse level.
6. The remaining mature trees on the site would be largely demolished (as
is accurately shown in the rendering).
The site was originally heavily treed. (See photos on Project Site, Past and
7. The design of the building pushes the envelope on density in every
regard and likely violates zoning regulations (most certainly the intent).
The primary intent of the building is to push the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to the
The developer labels one primary residential floor a "cellar level" in an attempt to
skirt the intent of zoning laws that exclude a "cellar" from FAR (cellar is a partial
story, not a full story).
Developer uses Kanawha St. (the high side) as the front elevation to measure
the building height.
Because of the substantial elevation change, the building is much taller at grade
(Military Rd.) than the formal 90 foot allowance.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS: The site was originally governed by a
Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement approved in 1990 after years
of negotiation with the ANC and Community.
The ANC, City Council members, and the Zoning authorities all recognized the
unique site attributes and the need for a significant buffer and other required
mitigating factors to reduce the impact on the neighborhood,
Because of the unique attributes of the site and enormous community
opposition, the site was required to go through a Planned Unit Development (PUD)
The PUD was approved in 1990 only after the developer negotiated
substantial project changes with the surrounding neighborhood to mitigate
the effects. The result was Zoning Order 656 (attached as Exhibit A). The
project was never built and the PUD expired in 1998.
Exhibit A 656_89-15C.pdf
ZONING COMMISSION ORDER NO. 656
Case No. 89-15C
(PUD at 5333 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.)
March 12, 1990
The current proposed project ignores nearly every original requirement placed
on it in the original PUD (i.e.. event piece of ANC and community input). Those
conditions included (among many others) the following:
Substantial resident and guest parking with a parking space included
in all leases.
A traffic pattern that discouraged traffic on the narrow side streets and
entrance to the underground parking lot and loading docks from a major
road versus the current tiny alley.
Tree saves and tree plantings to buffer the surrounding neighborhood.
A substantial high stepdown for the building as it transitioned from the
Connecticut Avenue corridor to closer to the adjacent neighborhood for
the purposes of light and so that the building would not tower over
When the PUD expired in 1998, so technically did the above obligations.
However, DC Zoning laws (Title 11) also clearly state that a PUD applicant
does not keep the benefits if he does not construct the PUD project:
"2400.7 Failure of an applicant to complete a proposed development (PUD) as
directed within the time limits set by the Commission or the Zoning Regulations
shall result in the termination of the benefits granted under the application,
and reversion of the zoning controls to the pre-existing regulations and map."
The benefits granted to the developer by the PUD process were enormous.
Rather than further zoning challenges and petitions to downzone the eastern
portion of the site that would have ensued (essentially with the goal of
reverting to the pre-1975 zoning map at the very least), the community
negotiated in good faith with Cafritz because of the significant development
There is recent precedent for downzoning in ANC 3G. In 2002, a
significant downzoning occurred for the Connecticut Avenue corridor
from Nebraska Ave to Jocelyn Street based on a petition from the ANC.
The Zoning Commission largely agreed with the ANC recommendation
and approved the downzoning request to ensure land uses along
Connecticut are more consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods in
May 2002 pursuant to Zoning Commission Order 962 attached as
Exhibit B 962_00-23P.pdf
ZONING COMMISSION FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
NOTICE OF FINAL RULEMAKING and ZONING COMMISSION
ORDER NO. 962
Z.C. Case No. 00-23P
(Map Amendment - Square 1874, Lots 40-42,61,62, and 801;
Square 1873, Lots 69-74; and Square 1989, Lots 44-57)
(East Side of Connecticut Avenue, N.W. between Nebraska
Avenue and Jocelyn Street)
The maximum is now R-5-B (i.e., 1/2 the density). This site is directly
comparable. It is unclear why the site was not requested to be
downzoned as well, except that the 2003 zoning map still indicated
the parcel was governed by the PUO.
OVERALL VIEW OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The proposed land use,
density, and height violate the basic intent of the zoning laws.
Below are different concepts in the zoning code:
ii) 11-200: "The R-1 District is designed to protect quiet residential areas now
developed with one-family detached dwellings" "The provisions of this chapter
are intended to stabilize the residential areas and to promote a suitable
environment for family life."
ii) 11-101.1: "Provide adequate light and air", "Character of the respective
districts", "Encouragement of the stability of districts and of land values in
iii) Policy IM-1.5.1: Involvement of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions -
Include the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and area residents In the
review of development to assist the District in responding to resident
concerns. Consistent with the statutory requirements of the DC Code,
feedback from the ANCs should be given "great weight" as land use
recommendations and decisions are made.
iv) Policy IN1-1.5,2: Promoting Community Involvement - Encourage the
community to take a more proactive role In planning and development
review, and to be involved in Comprehensive Plan development,
amendment, and implementation. A variety of means should be used to secure
community input, including advisory and technical committees, community
workshops, review of draft texts, public forums and hearings, and other
means of discussion and communication. 2507.4
There is ZERO community support for this project.
The developer ignored EVERY piece of community input from the original
Nothing about the project is additive to the neighborhood, only detractive.
The proposed structure would destabilize and permanently alter the
character of the neighborhood negatively.
The proposed structure introduces a completely inconsistent density level
for the site and is highly invasive. The proposed plans do not focus on
Connecticut Avenue, but instead on neighboring, low density residential
There are thousands of sites in DC that make substantially more sense for
high density housing (mixed use zones in live/work/play areas) and other sites
without homes on three sides.
This project would take a zoning map mistake from 1975, which
incorporated the eastern half of the site that should never have been included
and then adds a 20% inclusionary zoning density bonus on top of that to
ensure a massively dense building could possibly be built on the site. An FAR
of 1.8 would become an FAR of 4,2, adjacent to tiny, 24 foot wide Kanawha
Once implemented, effects of zoning mistakes are permanent and can never
The Chevy Chase DC community and ANC should have the power to greatly
Influence what is done with the site. Specifically, among other options, the ANC
Highlight the potential destructive impact on the neighborhood to all
relevant agencies including DDOT, Historic Preservation, Office of
(schools in the area are already highly
Appeal to council members that we want to grow in ways that are smart,
appropriate, blend in, and do not harm our stable 100+ year old communities.
File the identical petition to the 2001/2002 petition for the downzoning of
the entire parcel (and certainly the eastern half of the site) to a lower density
multi-family use(R-5-B) consistent with the rest of the adjacent corridor.
Ensure that the community has substantial say and that the ANC and
Zoning Commission are involved, given the scale and destructive potential
of this project and ensure that it undergoes a Large Tract review.