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September 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes - Tuesday September 18, 2018
The meeting was held at the Gingras Center, 1419 V St NW, at 7 pm. 
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, and Ken Yu. Other members included Mike Schwartz, Matt Abbruzzese, and Scott Clark. Visitors included Reuben Forman from the Office of the Mayor, Tai Meah from the office of Councilmember Nadeau, several members of Keep Meridian Hill Green, including Gary Youngblood and Phyllis Blair. Commissioner Amanda Fox Perry of ANC 1C also attended, as well as at least one new neighborhood resident. A quorum was present.
Chris provided a brief overview of the association and its boundaries.

Keep Meridian Hill Green (KMHG)
Gary Youngblood of KMHG provided a history of the group and its goals, seeking to ensure that any development on the site of the Meridian International Center (just across 16th Street from the park) is sensible and follows the District’s approved zoning and other land use requirements. first, Mr. Youngblood described KMHG’s platform: (1) to address community concerns, including ensuring that community input is addressed by government institutions; (2) enforce DC law, namely the DC future land use map and zoning rules; and (3) save our existing trees. More information is currently available on KMHG’s web site [http://keepmeridianhillgreen.org/].  The presentation discussed at our meeting is here.
We spent time discussing the administrative history and process related to the International Center’s request to build a large conference center and a 110-unit residential building on the site across from Meridian Hill Park. In particular we discussed, both in an initial presentation and in answer to audience question, the International Center’s controversial relief from DC taxes, an earlier finding that it was exempt from certain rules because it is a “school,” (which does not appear to be the case), and that exception’s relationship to a requested departure from approved zoning to extend the R4 zoning area into an existing mapped R2 area.  Apparently 8 of the 110 units would be designated low income for residents earning 80% of the area median income (currently about $117,000 based on information from HUD). We also addressed questions about whether the ANC has received its legally-entitled "great weight," what are details and the actual cost of the International Center’s 100% tax exemption, and how the DC Comprehensive Plan should govern any requested exceptions to zoning regulations. Finally, KMHG representatives noted that DC law and policy specifically protects the existing tree canopy, which is an additional policy concern stemming from the development proposal.
Members present at the meeting supported using MHNA’s listserv to distribute information about the organization, and expressed support for slowing down the process so resident concerns may be considered. We agreed to consider a formal action in support of KMHG at an appropriate point in the process.

Meridian Hill Park Cooperation
Following upon recent discussions, we discussed opportunities to work with volunteer efforts in the Park, and potentially to initiate action around any priorities we identify. The next cleanups organized by Washington Parks & People will occur 9/22 and 10/20. 

Other Business
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Mediterranean Spot settlement agreement was signed. In doing so, Chris Young observed that it should not serve a precedent. Unique circumstances regarding the situation and location of the business allowed this settlement agreement to contain some provisions, particularly noise provisions, that are weaker than existing regulations. In other situations this would not be acceptable.
Again, remember that next year all restaurant and tavern licenses will come up for renewal. Please think about which establishments are a constructive part of our neighborhood community, and which are problem establishments that we should seek to improve through the renewal process.
New Business
Reuben Forman disturbed information about updated rodent and trash rules, to which some attendees raised questions about how to enforce those rules when commercial establishments (restaurants) don’t follow them and contribute to rat problems.
Sadly, we did not have a social event after this meeting.

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