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Zoning Commission’s Third Adams Morgan Hotel Hearing Not the Last

[This report supplements this month’s main story reporting on the project (click link in Lead Stories list on home page); this third zoning commission hearing occurred following posting of the referenced lead story. A complete account of the September 13th hearing will appear in our October issue.]

By Anthony L. Harvey

There is no end in sight in the for the series of public hearings being conducted by DC’s Zoning Commission on the matter of the proposed planned unit (PUD) development approval being sought for the construction of an hotel that will incorporate the former First Church of Christ, Scientist at Euclid and Champlain Streets in Adams Morgan’s Reed-Cooke residential neighborhood. (For details, see first of the posted lead stories immediately below.)

This third evening of public sessions –- held as The InTowner September issue was posted — found Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham opening the Commission’s public testimony with a strong statement of support for the zoning relief sought by the prospective developer of this controversial hotel — the Sydell Group of New York City. Sydell recently redeveloped two historic Manhattan properties, creating the highly regarded Ace and NoMad luxury hotels.

And in a highly unusual preparatory step, the Commission summarily dismissed 12 applications for party status to the hotel application; then it accepted, with spirited debate, two applications in opposition — one from the Kalorama Citizens Association, with a provisional acceptance of the second of these two from a group of Champlain Street residents — and noted the withdrawal of the Reed-Cooke Neighborhood Association’s opposition in light of that organization’s having negotiated a contract agreement early last month with the applicant.

Formal proceedings on the applicant’s proposal by a panel of developers, architects, land use and transportation planners assembled by Holland and Knight’s zoning, land use, and historic preservation attorney Chip Glasgow set the evening’s stage for a lively set of questions, and colloquy, from the four commission members. This was followed by cross examination questions from Denis James, president of the Kalorama Citizens Association. Further cross examination of this panel’s members will occur at the October 10th hearing, after which the representatives from the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Office of Planning, and the District’s Transportation Department will testify and answer questions. Following will be individual witnesses, both on behalf of themselves in support or opposition to the hotel application — for which they will be allotted three minutes apiece — or as representatives of recognized organizations, in which case they receive, respectively, five minutes each.

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