For reasons unbeknownst to me, Advisory Neighborhood Commission Chair Steve Whatley was dressed in a sharp tuxedo for Tuesday night’s ANC 4A monthly meeting at the Jewish Primary Day School. Fittingly, he conducted the proceedings at a lively allegro tempo, as the Commission stepped through a jam-packed agenda in an efficient two hour session. I will attempt to keep pace with this summary.
After addressing the administrative concerns, the ANC opened the floor to Community Concerns. A representative from the DC Department of Energy and Environment stood to announce an upcoming series of meetings to hear public comment on the Carter Barron Tennis Center parking lot Stormwater Retrofit Project. The first meeting will take place on March 1st at the Rock Creek Nature Center at 6:30 pm.
The Mayor’s Ward 4 Liaison Phillip McCauley rose to let the meeting know about the Mayor’s ongoing Community Conversation calls and a survey, located at http://engagement.dc.gov/ . The administration wants us to tell them our experiences with, and opinions about, public safety in the District. He also mentioned the upcoming Budget Engagement forums which will take place soon. Be on the look out for dates and locations.
Captain Teresa Weedon and Officer Donald Ennis of the Fourth District came to shed some light on MPD’s new Sector Management Concept. Essentially, each police district has been split into three parts. This, along with a change to ten-hour working shifts, is intended to increase communication between officers and help reduce crime. The 4th District won MPD’s “Crime Reduction Award” for 2016. However, Captain Weedon was very concerned about a rash of theft from auto crimes early in this year and reminded the audience not to leave valuables inside of vehicles.
Sheryl Newman from Councilmember Todd’s office came to give a rundown of his activities of the month. CM Todd introduced amendments to increase the tax exemption for seniors and he proposed “Momma’s Bill”, legislation intended to protect animals from being exposed to extreme outdoor temperatures during the winter months.
ANC Community Discussions
April Bingham from DC Water delivered a very informative presentation on the upcoming water meter replacement program. Over the next year, DC Water will replace approximately 88,000 water meters and Meter Transmitting Units (MTU) throughout the city. These new units will give the utility upgraded billing capabilities. Their contractor, Smart Grid Solutions, will perform the work, but DC Water staff will accompany them on each job.
You can find complete details on this project at https://www.dcwater.com/newmeters , but some pertinent facts are as follows:
- 95% of the changeouts will be in public space. If the meter is inside a building (typically with businesses, schools and churches) Smart Grid Solutions will call to schedule an appointment.
- Each job should take about 15 minutes.
- If you have problems, call the Project Management Office at (202) 612-3485
- They will leave a door hanger and perform the work if no one is at home.
- If someone is home and no one answers the door, they will attempt to reschedule.
There were three additional quick approvals by the ANC:
- A resolution to support the Senior Citizen Tax Relief Amendment Act of 2017
- $900 community grant to East Rock Creek Village for promotional activities
- $1,000 community grant to Star Achievers After School program at Shepherd Elementary School for robotics kits
Grocery Store Alcohol Sales
The final discussion of the evening involved what is sure to be a hot topic for months to come: carving an exemption in Ward 4’s moratorium on Class B (wine and beer) liquor licenses for “Full Service” grocery stores. ANC Chairman Steve Whatley described this as “the beginning of a conversation on the issue.”
In a nutshell, retailers in Ward 4 are not allowed to apply for a license to sell Beer and Wine offsite. The developers and the grocery stores themselves have made it clear that they cannot run profitable stores in the city without these licenses (the Safeway at Piney Branch Road has a grandfathered license). Wegmans has said that this is part of the reason they passed on the Walter Reed site. Instead, they are in talks to open a smaller store in Ward 3. The exemption would provide relief for these new stores, but then begs the question, is that fair for the existing stores like the Walmart on Georgia Avenue?
Some residents identified these as murky waters. Naima Jefferson, a Shepherd Park resident, stated, “While current discussions include lifting the retail beer and wine moratorium for ANC4A02 and ANC4A03, we need to think about second order impacts, both positive and negative, not only to ANC4A as a whole but across the entire Ward.”
Commissioners Lincoln and Whatley promised to canvass their single member districts to gauge the community’s response on the issue. Judging by the post meeting comments and the long history of the moratorium, this promises to be an interesting conversation.
The next ANC 4A meeting will take place in March at the Fort Stevens Recreation Center.