5333 Connecticut Avenue

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The proposed project at 5333 Connecticut Avenue has provoked certain questions about how the District deals with transportation and environmental issues related to large developments in residential communities. As a result, next Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. in the Council Chamber at the John A. Wilson Building, I am convening a roundtable of my committee (Transportation & the Environment) to explore what the District Department of Transportation and the District Department of the Environment might or should do about such issues, even when the development is permissible by right.

The public notice related to the roundtable can be found here: http://dccouncil.us/events/transportation-and-the-environment1. The roundtable will be broadcast live both on Channel 13 and the Council’s website (www.dccouncil.us).

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A neighbor submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the government’s response to the proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue.So that all may see precisely what I have done related to this issue, I want to provide here the documents that my office turned over (please note that there are some redactions to protect individuals’ privacy and to maintain certain deliberative privileges).

Emails can be found here: http://www.marycheh.com/5333/FOIAEmails.pdf

Hardcopy notes and correspondence can be found here: http://www.marycheh.com/5333/FOIANotes.pdf

Please note that both files are quite large (approximately 9 MBs) and so may take a few minutes to download, depending on your connection speed.

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Friday, March 1, 2013

I had requested that DDOT conduct an analysis of the likely impact that the proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue would have on traffic, parking, and pedestrian issues in the surrounding neighborhood. I had also asked that they recommend ways that any negative effects could be mitigated. They have now completed that analysis, and it can be found here:

http://www.marycheh.com/5333/DDOT.pdf

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This afternoon, I posted the following message on the Chevy Chase listserv:

Over the weekend, two notes were posted to the listserv that I’d like to respond to jointly.

First, on Sunday, Daniel Greenberg posted a response to my note about the 5333 CNC’s call to action. On more than one occasion in that response, Mr. Greenberg suggested that I and my office have been passive, opaque, and dismissive. Let me be clear about what we have done in response to the proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue. When my office first became aware of the issue in December, we attempted to gather more information from the developer, reaching out to the architect. Soon thereafter, we were contacted by the group of citizens that became the 5333 Connecticut Neighborhood Coalition and met with them to hear their concerns first-hand. We immediately began preparations for a community-wide meeting to determine the full nature of the project and the neighborhood concerns about it. At a time when the Cafritzes had declined to respond to any community inquiries, I was able to secure their participation in a community meeting. They came with their legal counsel, their architect, and their landscape architect. At that same meeting, I arranged for DDOT, DDOE, DCRA, and the Office of Planning to participate and answer questions directly from community members. My office also collected questions on cards and used them to form the basis of the topics that I’ve addressed in these postings. Representatives from my office accompanied ANC commissioners to a meeting with the Zoning Administrator, and when another meeting—this time between the representatives of 5333 CNC and DCRA—was recently cancelled, I was able to get the meeting back on track. As further information has been provided to my office, I have posted it to my website. And all of these activities and more to secure information, digest it, and disseminate it to the community, are reflected in the thousands of pages soon to be turned over to Mr. Greenberg to respond to his FOIA request.

Mr. Greenberg also suggests that I have not done enough to publicly urge the developer to redesign the building, make clear that something more than just profit and matters of right should govern the Cafritzes’ thinking, or express my own opinion the building. In fact, though, I have done each of these things, both in my conversations with the Cafritzes and their representatives and, publicly, in a letter to them that I posted to my website (http://www.tinyurl.com/marycheh5333).

As to the second listserv posting (and separate emails based on the same content), after I posted my response to the 5333 CNC’s call to action, Richard Graham wrote to clarify what the group was and was not asking for. Accordingly, I’d like elaborate on my response. First, Mr. Graham indicates that the community would like an emergency meeting to understand why agencies do not do original analyses for projects of this size. And, in his second request, he asks that I introduce legislation mandating as much. He also expresses disappointment that the ANC was not consulted or provided proactive notice. I will be looking into possible changes concerning how we handle matters like this in the future, and I’ll have more to say on that matter soon. I’ll also say that I am not happy about the inadequate notice provided by to the ANC by DCRA. In the ordinary course, when an ANC gets notice of permit applications, they may put the matter on the agenda and invite owners and developers and government agencies to attend a meeting to discuss the plans with the commissioners and the community. Even though that didn’t happen in this case, I do want to point out that all of the agencies were present at the community meeting I hosted in January. Their purpose was to address questions from the community. I also want to point out that, had the ANC been properly notified (and given that they have no affirmative right to actually decide on the building’s permissibility), what the ANC would have done is not very different from what was actually accomplished at the community meeting I held. Moreover, there is nothing preventing the ANC from putting this matter on their agenda now and inviting the agencies in to discuss it.

Next, Mr. Graham states that members of the community would like to meet with the Mayor, Chairman Mendelson, and other members of the Council. I encourage them to do just that.

Finally, Mr. Graham asks that no further permits be granted until proper, comprehensive analyses are conducted to ensure that the project complies with existing law. I have and will continue to do everything I can to ensure that the project complies with the law and that all rules and regulations are followed before permits are issued. And I will continue to ask the Cafritzes to voluntarily reconsider their design in those areas where they are acting within their legal rights. But, if anyone is suggesting that I ask government agencies to hold up or deny permits that should, under law, be issued, that I will not do. Mr. Greenberg writes that “our legal and historical traditions do not prescribe robotic adherence to the law. Where the law fails to meet societal needs, public opinion, political leadership, and moral suasion have played honored roles in our country.” My oath of office charges me to “faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America and of the District of Columbia.” To urge agencies to veer from the law, the rules, or the regulations because of public discord is unethical, illegal, and—frankly—unproductive because they won’t do it. Mr. Greenberg says that I “was elected to represent [my] constituents.” Yes, indeed, and I will continue to represent my constituents as vigorously and energetically as I can, but always within the bounds of the law.

Mary M. Cheh

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

As part of my continuing report about governmental review of the aspects of the 5333 project, you will call that on February 1st, I reported that DDOE had completed its review of the EISF for the proposed development. In conducting an EISF review, DDOE looks at a variety of environmental issues. With this project, DDOE noted one area of concern: the Air Quality Division had questions about the design and location of the garage ventilation outlet and its proximity to neighboring properties. And I noted that the normal practice in such instances is for the agency and the developer to work to address those concerns through either more thorough investigation or alterations to the design. After several rounds of queries and revisions, DDOE has concluded that the plan, as revised, complies with relevant standards and requirements.

The agency’s communication to my office is as follows:

“Last week, we completed work with the applicant to revise their modeling and incorporate necessary changes to improve emission estimates. During our discussions, the applicant committed to increasing the exhaust flow rate to 120,000 cubic feet per minute, which will ensure proper dispersion of the emissions and keep carbon monoxide levels comfortably below applicable air quality standards. We feel confident that this modification will protect public health in the area. The Air Quality Division has processed its approval of the project, with this flow rate requirement a condition of the approval.

There are no changes in the angle or location of the stack. But the dimensions of the outlet are slightly different from what was originally presented in the air quality study, and this information was updated in the revised modeling. It was not something we requested… It was just a slight change that they made in design between the time the original air quality study was prepared and the time we met to resolve things. To make sure that they didn’t make further changes that would affect the flow rate, AQD required that they maintain the revised dimensions in the approval memo as well as the revised flow rate.”

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Friday, February 15, 2013

Many neighbors have been emailing me regarding four specific requests. These requests stem from a call to action issued by the 5333 Connecticut Neighborhood Coalition. I have crafted a response to that call to action that both addresses each request and speaks to the larger conversation that has been ongoing in the community regarding the proposal. Because I believe that it provides relevant context for that larger conversation, I wanted to share my response here, as well.

“As an initial matter, I know that one of the predicates for your request is the fact that the DC Zoning Administrator cancelled a meeting with the 5333 Connecticut Neighborhood Coalition. I am pleased to report that I have spoken with the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and the meeting will be rescheduled for the near future.

Let me turn, then, to your particular inquiries. In order to fully address your requests, I’m going to have to ask for your indulgence. The entire discussion surrounding this particular project requires that we all have a clear understanding of property rights and zoning, and so please bear with me and let me provide some context. As a starting point, it’s important to appreciate that under our legal system, property ownership represents a set of rights—in general, you can build whatever you want on land you own. Until the early 1920s, there was very little else that governed where, how, or what could be built. Under that system, one individual’s ability to limit what an owner did on his or her land extended only to preventing public nuisances (things like loud noises or rank odors). As the country rapidly urbanized and industrialized, the federal government suggested a system of zoning that created standards for land use. That suggestion came from the Department of Commerce in the form of a model act. States enacted versions of that law, which empowered municipalities to enact zoning ordinances. These ordinances set out the types of activities permitted in particular areas and regulate the height, density, and positioning of buildings.

In states, the authority to restrict how an individual uses his or her land stems from their inherent police power. That power is then delegated by statute to local authorities. In the case of the District, Congress has delegated that authority, not to the Council, but rather to the Zoning Commission. This is why when the current zoning re-write is complete, it will be presented to and adopted by the Zoning Commission and not the Council. Indeed, the Council has no authority over the zoning code: the Home Rule Act defined the Council’s legislative authority, but made it clear that the Zoning Commission has full authority over zoning matters. The issue was addressed directly by the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, who concluded that “the Zoning Commission is the exclusive agency vested with power to enact zoning regulations.”

It is also important to understand what it means for a project to be “matter of right.” All property in the District, except that which is in federal use, has an entitled development right established by zoning. If a project follows the requirements of the zoning regulations (e.g. height, density, setbacks, use, parking etc.), the owner of the land has the right to build that project, irrespective of whether a neighbor or a city official finds it garish, unappealing, or ill-advised. Because, as I noted earlier, property is a set of rights, the government’s issuance of a building permit is not discretionary; that is to say, if the project follows the strictures of the code, the owner has a right to build it, and the government must issue the appropriate permits. If it does not, the government actually opens itself up to liability.

If, on the other hand, a project wishes to deviate from the code, owners can seek variances, special exceptions, and planned unit developments (PUDs). By their very nature, because these procedures seek something beyond what the law allows, they allow for public input, debate, and discretion.

The application of the zoning regulations to a given project is a matter for the executive agencies empowered by those regulations to enforce them. In general, these agencies are the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, the District Department of Transportation, and the District Department of the Environment. If a variance, special exception, or PUD is sought, the Office of Planning also has the ability to review a project. For matter-of-right projects, the agencies confirm conformity to the code and, if that conformity is found, they must issue the appropriate permits.

All of that information is necessary preface for me to be able to answer your four requests.

First, you ask that I hold an emergency hearing of my committee to bring out the facts surrounding the building, including its impact on traffic, parking, and the environment. As I noted above, the law expressly empowers the Mayor (through the agencies) to enforce the zoning regulations. The Council has no ability to enforce the zoning regulations. But, to the extent that the purpose of such a roundtable is to make public what DDOT and DDOE think about the project and its effects, I have worked with the agencies to do just that. First, I held a community meeting with all of the relevant agencies, which hundreds of neighbors attended, and made inquiries of the agencies. And second, I have asked for information from each agency and have made that information public as I receive it (e.g. http://www.tinyurl.com/marycheh5333).

Second, you ask that I introduce emergency legislation to review the project and empower neighborhood groups and ANC to weigh in on a project like this. As I noted before, the Council has no authority to modify the zoning regulations—it is the sole province of the Zoning Commission. And under the zoning regulations, in matter-of-right projects, property owners are not required to engage with the community or the ANC.

Third, you ask that I urge the Mayor to meet with community representative to understand your concerns and the growing anger about agency indifference. I am happy to ask that the Mayor meet with the community, but I do think the premise of the question reflects an incorrect assessment of the situation; it is not that the agencies are indifferent, but rather that they have no discretion to deny permits if they comply with the law.

Finally, you ask that I petition the Mayor to direct the agencies not to issue any more permits until the concerns are addressed. Again, because there is no discretion in the issuance of permits, an intentional delay could open the District up to liability for takings and discrimination. The law simply does not allow the remedy that you seek.

I am hopeful that the meeting with the Zoning Administrator will help enlighten the ongoing discussion about this project. I will also continue to make information available as I receive it and press the agencies to ensure that this project does comply with the law. But, as I’ve outlined above, I have no real legal leverage to effect the types of changes to the project that the community is seeking. This is in stark contrast to the situation in the 1990s when Council Chairman David Clark was able to force Mr. Cafritz to negotiate with the community because, in that instance, Mr. Cafritz was seeking a variance and engaging in the PUD process. Thus, please understand that my inability to act on the bulk of your requests doesn’t stem from a lack of interest or sympathy. I continue to hope that the developer will listen to and address residents’ concerns, and I have conveyed as much to them (e.g. http://www.tinyurl.com/marycheh5333, post of Wednesday, February 13th)

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Last week, I sent a letter to Calvin & Jane Cafritz regarding the proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue. The text of that letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Cafritz,

Thank you very much for your participation in the January 23rd community meeting regarding your proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue. It presented an important opportunity for the community to hear directly from you and your team, and for you to hear directly from the community. I greatly appreciate your willingness to engage in the kind of meaningful dialogue that I hope will bring about a project that everyone can be happy having in Chevy Chase. To that end, there are a handful of issues that I wanted to raise with you directly.

First, the primary concern that I’ve heard is that the building, with its modern design and all-glass façade, does not fit the character of Chevy Chase. I was gratified, then, that Mrs. Cafritz announced at the outset of the meeting that the rendering being circulated is not the building that you plan to build. Although I appreciate that many of the buildings along Connecticut Avenue reflect the eras in which they were built, I don’t believe that the current architectural mode is limited to all-glass buildings. Beyond the glass curtain walls of neomodernism, current postmodern architecture certainly allows for historical elements to be constructed in a contemporary fashion. And examples of this architecture in residential buildings can be found throughout the city, from Chinatown’s The Avalon to U Street’s The Ellington to Cleveland Park’s Cathedral Commons. In any event, I hope that, as you reflect on the comments from the community meeting, you examine with your architect whether your interests can be achieved with an aesthetic that also pays tribute to the particular and historic character of Chevy Chase.

Second, the community is very concerned about the impact that the new residents will have on the already limited parking resources in Chevy Chase. I commend you for providing so much underground parking, well beyond what is required under the zoning regulations. Given, however, that you are providing 173 parking spaces for 263 units on a major bus line, it seems unlikely that your residents would need the ability to park in the surrounding neighborhood. To mitigate parking concerns with a development project in Tenleytown, the developer agreed to remove the property from the Residential Parking Permit rolls and to, as part of its leases, prohibit tenants from requesting RPP passes. I encourage you to do the same here. Although 5333 Connecticut Avenue is not currently on the RPP rolls, your residents could legally request that it be added, significantly burdening the surrounding streets despite the ample parking provided underground. Making such a commitment to DDOT and the neighbors would go a long way in ameliorating the very legitimate concerns that the neighborhood has expressed about already scarce parking.

Similarly, to encourage the use of the District’s robust multi-modal transit system, I would ask that you rent one or more of the spaces in the garage to a car-sharing service. We currently have both Zipcar and Hertz operating in the District, and either or both would be happy to serve your residents—and your residents would almost certainly appreciate the convenience. I would also ask that you consider installing both private bicycle racks for the use of your residents or funding the construction of a Capital Bikeshare station on site or both. This would undoubtedly be seen as a very desirable amenity by the residents likely to live in the building. And use of the District’s many transportation options is another excellent way of reducing the traffic and parking effects on the surrounding neighborhood.

Third, as was raised at the community meeting, I would encourage you to construct your project to LEED standards. Green building is an integral part of the District’s sustainable development strategy, and thanks to the Green Building Act, the District has one of the most aggressive green building laws in the United States. Although the Green Building Act applies to government and nonresidential private projects, it does embody a public policy of encouraging construction to meet LEED standards for environmental performance. At the community meeting, your team suggested that you would not be seeking LEED certification, at least in part, because of the cost associated with doing so. I understand that certification costs can be substantial, but I would encourage you to follow the approach of Douglas Development’s project at the former site of Babe’s Billiards. There, rather than constructing a LEED Silver-certified building, the developer committed to the ANC to construct a LEED Gold-compliant building, using the savings from not getting official certification to make the environmental improvements consistent with LEED Gold. Here, I would hope that you would consider making the relevant improvements to achieve LEED status, even if you do not pursue certification.

Fourth, I want to reiterate the community’s concerns about the staging and construction of this project. The new building will be built on the corner of two busy and vital corridors—Military Road and Connecticut Avenue. Although some disruption is inevitable, I encourage you to work with the neighborhood and the relevant District agencies to minimize the negative effects on traffic flow, air quality in the form of dust and debris, and community peace in the form of noise and vibrations.

And finally, if you’ll allow me to suggest something more broadly, as I’ve reflected on this project over these past weeks, I’ve come to see that you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. An undeveloped parcel of this size sited on a major corridor in the District and ensconced in one of the most desirable neighborhoods of the city calls for an iconic building—iconic not just in its aesthetic, but at the cutting edge of contemporary, sustainable, and environmentally progressive architecture and construction. An all-glass building may be in vogue now at the start of the century and stand for its architecture, but beyond being relevant now, this building could be relevant for the century to follow. I watched with great admiration and awe as Sidwell Friends School constructed its new middle-school building with LEED platinum certification, sustainable construction, and state-of-the-art geothermal and solar technologies. This building was and is a global example of environmental stewardship in the form of architecture. Indeed, people come from around the world to visit the building. I believe that with imagination and commitment, 5333 Connecticut Avenue can be an incredible legacy to that same commitment and forever attached to the Cafritz name.

Again, thank you for your participation in the community forum and, more so, for your willingness to hear and engage with the community to bring a building to the neighborhood that will contribute to your remarkable legacy here in the District.

Regards,
Mary M. Cheh

Friday, February 1, 2013

DDOE has now completed its review of the environmental impact screening form (EISF) referenced in my Wednesday post. According to the air quality modeling submitted by the developer’s contractor, the expected worst case carbon monoxide concentration near the development, after construction, would be marginally below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon monoxide. Although this modeling is designed to provide a worst case scenario and DDOE generally approves any modeling that shows post-development concentrations below the NAAQS, the Air Quality Division has identified certain areas of concern and has asked follow-up questions of the developer. Specifically, the Air Quality Division is concerned about the model’s assumptions and calculations related to idling time and travel time for the vehicles in the garage. DDOE must determine whether the model is sufficiently conservative to warrant approval of the EISF. The Air Quality Division also has questions about the design and location of the garage ventilation outlet and its proximity to neighboring properties.

As is normal practice when DDOE has concerns and questions about a plan, the agency has reached out to the developer to gather more information. If, after DDOE gathers that information, it believes that the modeling is sufficiently conservative and protective of public health, the agency will approve the EISF. Alternatively, based on DDOE’s questions, the developer can propose modifications to the design of the project to eliminate any concerns. On the other hand, if, after having its questions answered, DDOE still identifies areas of concern that aren’t ameliorated by the developer, it can recommend to DCRA that a full environmental impact study (EIS) for the site be conducted. It is the norm, however, that any concerns are addressed by the developer, thus obviating the need for an EIS.

As DDOE receives responses to its questions and shares that information with my office, I will post it here.

-Mary M. Cheh

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last week, I hosted a community meeting regarding the proposed development at 5333 Connecticut Avenue, NW. My office has created this page as a follow-up to that meeting, and we will post information here as it becomes available.

Participants were able to ask questions directly of both the developers (Calvin and Jane Cafritz) and the various government representatives. I also asked that individuals record their questions (especially those who weren’t able to ask their questions at the microphone) on cards, which were then collected by my staff. While a wide variety of questions were raised both in person and in text, several discrete topics emerged. Those topics were as follows:

  • Aesthetics of the structure as an all-glass building
  • Traffic, including the impact of adding between 100-200 cars per day to the area and the effects of those cars entering and exiting the property through the adjacent alley
  • Parking in the neighborhood
  • Height of the building
  • Environmental impact of the building, including the siting of the exhaust vent as an environmental hazard
  • Potential threat to birds that will strike an all-glass facade
  • Light pollution caused by the building
  • Potential LEED status of the structure
  • Effect of new residents on overcrowding at local schools
  • Staging and construction to minimize impact on the residents

Although I don’t yet have answers to all of these questions, I did want to update you on three of the issues: (1) the height of the building, (2) the environmental impact of the building, and (3) the LEED status of the building.

First, as to the height of the building, there was some discussion over what height was allowable and from what point that height was to be measured. The answer to that question is technical, but I want to set it out here and note that this is the methodology employed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. For the most part, the allowable height of a building is governed by, first and foremost, by the Height of Buildings Act (HBA), which is codified in its many amended forms in Title 6 of the District of Columbia Code. It provides, in pertinent part, that a building may be as tall as “the width of the street, avenue, or highway in its front, increased by 20 feet” and, most importantly, that where constructed at an intersection of two or more streets, “the limit of height of the building shall be determined from the width of the widest street….” D.C. Code § 6-601.05(a). Here, the proposed structure fronts on Military, Connecticut, and Kanawha. As the widest street, Connecticut governs the height of the building. In this instance, Connecticut is roughly 145 across, providing an allowable height of 165 feet. The HBA goes on, however, to limit buildings on a “residence street, avenue, or highway” to 90 feet. So, the maximum allowable height of the proposed development is 90 feet.

The question was then raised as to whether, if the width of Connecticut is providing the full 90-foot height envelope, the developer can measure that 90 feet from Kanawha Street, which is at a higher grade. The answer to that is yes. The HBA provides that “the height of buildings shall be measured from the level of the sidewalk opposite the middle of the front of the building to the highest point of the roof. If the building has more than 1 front, the height shall be measured from the elevation of the sidewalk opposite the middle of the front that will permit of the greater height.” D.C. Code § 6-601.07. As a result, the developer can construct a 90-foot building based on the width of Connecticut, but measured from Kanawha Street. So, with a grade, the building could, legally, actually be taller at other points.

Finally, a point was raised about the presence of penthouses for elevator and ventilation shafts and the like. The HBA, in fact, specifically provides that such structures “may be erected to a greater height than any limit prescribed” by the law, consistent with the zoning code. D.C. Code § 6-601.05(h). The zoning code, in turn, limits “housing for mechanical equipment or a stairway or elevator penthouse . . . on the roof of a building or structure” to no more than eighteen feet, six inches. DCMR § 400.7(c). So the upshot of all of this is that, consistent with the law and zoning regulations, the building can be built to a height of 90 feet, as measured from Kanawha, and with an additional 18 feet, 6 inches of mechanical structures on top. And to reiterate, this is the interpretation of DCRA, the agency charged by law with applying these rules and regulations.

Second, as to the environmental impact of the building, the question was raised as to whether an environmental impact statement (EIS) was required. The short answer to that question is that the Director of the District Department of the Environment has assured me that the agency will determine by the close of business on Friday whether an EIS is required for this project. The long answer requires a bit of context. Projects worth more than $1 million, among other factors, trigger the need for an environmental impact screening form (EISF), which is submitted by the developer. That form was sent to DCRA in early 2012 and subsequently forwarded to DDOE. DDOE has been reviewing that form to determine whether an EIS is necessary. They concluded that, because the project includes more than 50 parking spaces, the developer had to produce an air quality impact study, which was prepared—as is customary—by a contractor hired by the developer. DDOE is now reviewing the air quality impact study, which is approximately 300 pages long, to determine whether an EIS or changes to the project plan are necessary. If, after reviewing the air quality impact study, DDOE finds that significant negative effects will result, then the Department will require the applicant to prepare an EIS or make revisions to the project plan such that the impact is sufficiently mitigated that it will not violate National Ambient Air Quality Standards. DDOE then makes the determination whether the impact is sufficiently mitigated. Significant negative impact to water quality or the generation of hazardous waste could also trigger the need for an EIS or plan revisions. Once DDOE has made that determination, I will alert the community.

Third, as to the LEED status of the building, several residents inquired as to whether the developer planned to pursue LEED certification and, if so, at what level. The developers indicated that they did not intend to pursue LEED certification in part, at least, because of the cost. The costs associated with LEED certification come in the form of the measures taken to actually comply with LEED standards, but also in the form of certification costs themselves. The official certification itself can range as high as $75,000-$100,000. The public good can be served, not so much by the certification per se, but by having a building that complies with excellent environmental standards. This fact is reflected in the new development at the former Babe’s Billiards site. There, the developer and the ANC agreed that, rather than having a LEED Silver-certified building, the developer would expend the certification costs to construct a LEED Gold-compliant building. To the extent that the Cafritz family is concerned about constructing a more environmentally sound building because of the costs associated with the certification, I will bring this option (i.e. following LEED but not seeking actual certification) to their attention.

I anticipate having more information in the near future. As it becomes available, I will post to this page and alert both 5333cnc, the ANC, and the Chevy Chase Listserv.

-Mary M. Cheh

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