Residents want board to review decision allowing duplexes in neighborhood

Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Because Hurricane Florence caused the cancellation of the September meeting of the Washington Board of Adjustment, the agenda for the board’s meeting tonight is similar to the one developed for last month’s meeting.

The board is scheduled to review its decision to issue a special-use permit to allow multi-family dwellings in neighborhood of single-family residences.

The board also could consider several formal requests for it to rehear the matter.

Several residents in the West 14th Street and Summit Avenue area of the city do not agree with the board’s 3-2 vote to issue a special-use permit to Luis and Valerie Taveras, who live in Brooklyn, New York, to build four duplexes on a lot between West 14th and West 15th streets. The board’s split vote was made June 14.

Those residents, some of whom voiced their concerns to the City Council in July, contend the duplexes are not in character with the single-family nature of the neighborhood. They want the board to reconsider the matter regarding the property at 294 W. 14th St.

Seven residents — Elizabeth Barnhardt, Jim Bilbro, Georgia Clagett, Barry Friedland, Melonie Grooms, James M. Skillen and Tracy Warren and — have filed formal requests to have the matter reheard by the board. In her rehearing application,

In his rehearing application, Skillen contends the special-use permit application filed on behalf of the Traverses did not comply with the board’s rules of procedure in regard to being placed on the board’s agenda. Specifically, he alleges the application was submitted after the deadline to be included on board’s agenda for its June meeting.

In her rehearing request, Barnhardt wrote: “I believe the applicant’s plot plan was too preliminary and their agent’s statement regarding impacts to the neighborhood were largely conjecture. I am hopeful that a re-hearing would allow Board members to consider actual facts as evidence, supporting statements both for and against the proposed housing complex.”

A document in the board’s agenda reads: “As a general rule, a board may not hear a quasi-judicial case a second time. The applicant and other affected parties must present their evidence at the initial hearing. Appeals of the initial decision may be made to the courts, not back to the Board. The City’s Rules and Regulations, however, allow for a rehearing process.”

Evidence in support of a rehearing is limited, initially, to that which is necessary to enable the board to determine at least one of two of the following:

  • new facts or evidence is available for which there was no capacity of being obtained at the original hearing that that substantially changes conditions of the case;
  • procedural rules that significantly changed the conditions of the case were not followed. No harmless error shall be grounds for granting a rehearing. A harmless error is one that would not have changed the outcome of the matter, or for which refusal to rehear does not deny a substantial right. An application for rehearing shall be denied if the board, in its records, does not find a least one of these two conditions to be true. A simple majority vote by board members present is required to grant a rehearing.

The board meets at 7 p.m. today in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 102 E. Second St.