MPCA Position on Proposed St. Joseph’s Development

January 17, 2017

Michigan Park Citizen’s Association (MPCA) Position in opposition to the Proposed EYA development of the St Joseph’s Seminary property.


MPCA respects and values the work and mission of the St. Joseph’s Seminary. We consider them good neighbors and wish for them all the best. Nevertheless, the density proposed by the EYA Planned Unit Development (PUD) and the resulting exacerbation of existing traffic problems, lead us to reluctantly come to the conclusion that, for the long term good and health of Michigan Park, we cannot support the current PUD application.

1. Introduction

a. MPCA has been continuously active in Michigan Park since its founding in 1917. Many members are decades-long residents.
b. The property is prominently and centrally located within MPCA’s boundaries. We have a strong and vested concern in its proposed development. Its development is of considerable consequence to our community.
c. We recognize the Josephites’ need and their right to realize the value of their investment in their property.
d. We trust that a development design can be found that benefits the Josephites, safeguards neighborhood well-being and character and is a net positive for all concerned.

2. Open Space and Historic Preservation

a. As noted in the Comprehensive Plan (Chapter 24, Section 10), there is a dearth of publicly-owned open space in Ward 5. The loss of privately-held open space such as the yards of St Joseph’s is significant to the entire neighborhood. We would prefer the DC Government would rise to this and other opportunities to purchase privately-held open land to augment the inadequate stock of public open land in Ward 5.
b. We applaud the intention of St Joseph’s to apply for Historic Preservation Landmark status for the seminary building. We similarly welcome placing easements on the front and side yards of the Seminary building. The dedication of these yards to open space and to public use in perpetuity is a welcome and significant contribution to the public good of our neighborhood. It is our expectation that these easements will be permanent and irrevocable.

3. Zoning and Architecture

a. The current zoning of the property is R-2. The introductory section of Chapter 3 of the 2016 Zoning Code reads in part:
“300.4 The purpose of the R-2 zone is to:
(a) Provide for areas with semi-detached dwellings; and
(b) Protect these areas from invasion by denser types of residential development.”

In considering this PUD and its impact on our neighborhood we urge the Zoning Commission to keep in mind this primary intention of the Zoning Code.

b. The neighborhood in the immediate vicinity predates the 1958 zoning and exceeds its density; specifically, the row house groups exceed the current R-2 standards and is an exception to current zoning (grandfathered).
c. The PUD proposal for row dwellings in the north yard of St Joseph’s is out of context and in excess of even the existing housing stock, which is a mix of single, duplex and grandfathered triplexes.
d. We oppose the change in zoning to R-1A as being inconsistent with the goal to protect existing R-2 zoned areas against denser types of residential development.
e. EYA has chosen a contextual approach to the architectural design of the project.

–i. However, this deference to context is limited to surface matters and stops short in terms of the development’s density and number of stories in building height.
–ii. Arranging the outer rank of dwellings in groups of one and two with yard space between them is significantly more contextual.
–iii. EYA has emphasized that the proposed height of the dwellings is only marginally higher than the surrounding houses. This needs to be consistent on all three sides of the proposed development.

—-1. However, in significant contrast to the surrounding residential context, the current façade designs present a full three stories to the street. This subverts the attempt at contextual architecture.
—-2. Penthouses and roof decks exacerbate the incompatible height differences with the immediately surrounding neighborhood and should be omitted.

4. Traffic and Parking

a. Traffic:

–i. Michigan Park currently experiences significant, heavy traffic that worsens at rush hour and hospital shift changes. The dangerous condition has already prompted two requests for traffic calming measures.
–ii. The Gorove Slade traffic study, in its Peak Hour Vehicular Capacity Analysis Results, notes:

—-1. Three instances in which the current level of service (LOS) is rated as unacceptable (Levels 3 and 4).
—-2. The number of unacceptable instances is expected to increase to five without the PUD.
—-3. This bad and deteriorating situation can’t handle even the slight traffic increase that the study expects the development to produce.

–iii. We note that the bulk of traffic issues in Michigan Park are generated by commuters driving to downtown and to local destinations. The extension of Webster Street through to 12th Street alters traffic patterns on 12th, 13th, Allison and Webster Streets.

The efforts by EYA to engage the community to develop traffic mitigation is welcome. We withhold judgment on this issue pending outcome of these efforts. We would encourage a livability study that would take into account the effect of this development’s proposed density with the density of other recent developments on South Dakota Avenue. These other developments will have a major traffic impact on 12th Street that was not taken into account in the Gorove Slade study.

b. Parking

–i. Gorove Slade outlines on pages 8-10 several options for 12th Street on-street parking. MPCA has expressed concerns about the PUD’s guest parking, but on further examination changes such as curbside parking and/or bicycle lanes are being proposed with insufficient attention to Providence Hospital’s needs.
–ii. Any changes along 12th Street must consider and account for:

—-1. Safety and access to the emergency room for emergency and law enforcement vehicles approaching from both the north and the south.
—-2. Clearance and adequate turning space for the extra large delivery vehicles and mobile medical vehicles to the loading docks and parking lots on the 12th Street side of the hospital.
—-3. Any changes to the design of the 4400 and 4500 blocks of 12th Street need the review and approval of Providence Hospital.


MPCA has come to the conclusion that for the long term good and health of our neighborhood we cannot support the current PUD application unless and until the above concerns are significantly and successfully addressed. The impact to open space, historic preservation, zoning, architecture, traffic and parking is tremendous. This development will have an invasive and dramatic change to the character of our neighborhood.

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MPCA Special Meeting – St Josephs

At the November MPCA meeting we discussed a draft position statement regarding MPCA position on the EYA proposed PUD for the development of the Saint Joseph’s Seminary property.

Suggestions from that meeting and other editorial changes are included in the attached document.

At the December MPCA meeting we agreed to call a special meeting in January for final review and voting on the position statement. All MPCA members in good standing are eligible to vote.

The special January meeting will be held Thursday, 12 January, at the Lamong-Riggs Neighborhood Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave NE, Washington, DC 20011, in meeting room #2. 7:00PM.

Proposed MPCA Position on St Jos PUD

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Joint Neighborhood Meeting with WMATA

Please join neighbors of Queens Chapel Civic Association and Michigan Park Citizens Association in a jointly sponsored meeting with Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) representative Ann Chisholm to discuss Safety, Service and Cost of using public transportation.

WHEN: Monday, January 9, 2017, at 7:00 PM
WHERE: Union Wesley AME Zion Church, 1860 Michigan Avenue NE.


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Christmas Potluck

The Christmas Potluck was hosted by Anne and Bill Gribbin on Tuesday, 6 December. A short meeting was held (minutes are approved for release during the next business meeting).

Christmas Potluck

Christmas Potluck

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MPCA November Meeting

Michigan Park Citizens Association
8 November 2016
Ross Auditorium, Providence Hospital

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 7:06 p.m.

The Pledge of Allegiance was made. The draft minutes for October’s meeting were accepted as corrected. Treasurer Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.

Christmas Fund. President Conrad solicited members for donations to the Christmas fund which goes to the purchase of gifts for the children of a needy family identified by the Principle of Bunker Hill Elementary.

Christmas Potluck.  Ms. Anne Gribbin offered to host the association’s annual Christmas Potluck at her home on 13th and Perry Streets NE.

DDOT Invitation.  Mr. Conrad is coordinating a special meeting involving EYA and DDOT to discuss transportation issues surrounding the proposed development of the Saint Joseph’s Seminary property.  MPCA has not received confirmation for use of Ross Auditorium. Mr. Conrad will check with Bertie Backus or the Library, both on South Dakota Ave, for a room to host the planned meeting.

Members Meeting

Members Meeting

D.C. Board of Zoning.  Ms. Kathleen Sutherland had attended the set-down meeting and gave a quick recap.  The set-down meeting is a public meeting but comments from the public are not received. The voting commissioners were not enthusiastic but voted to allow EYA’s application to move forward so that EYA may be added to the agenda for public meetings. Concerns of the commissioners included traffic, density, building heights, building aesthetics, rooftop decks, and affordable (vs. market) rates.

Mr. David Conrad solicited members for their input to a draft of MPCA position regarding the proposed EYA development.  The draft was distributed and read. A discussion followed.

The meeting concluded at 09:15 p.m.

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MPCA October Meetings

Michigan Park Citizens Association
4 October 2016
Ross Auditorium, Providence Hospital

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 7:15 p.m with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Treasurer Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.  The September minutes were approved. President Conrad publicly thanked ANC Commissioner John Feeley, who was in attendance, for the grant of $500 grant toward installation of a water meter and backfill preventer at the triangle park, 12th, Michigan & Shepherd Streets.

GUEST SPEAKER. Mr. Sylvester Bush spoke on behalf of the Coalition to Restore the D.C. Benefit Exclusion.   A law enacted by Congress in 1957 allowed retired military and civil servants to deduct $3,000 from their taxable pension income.  The benefit is enjoyed by residents in 36 other states. However, the benefit exclusion was repealed by the D.C. City Council in 2014 to help subsidize a new, lower tax bracket on income.  This change was recommended by a panel, the D.C. Tax Revision Commission, chaired by former Mayor Anthony Williams. The new law impacts all retired military, DC police, firefighters, teachers and DC civil servants. However, the new law was not widely reported or publicized.  As a result of the lack of transparency, many seniors did not know about that the pension exclusion had been repealed until they filed their 2015 tax returns. The Restore the Pension Benefit Exclusion encourages residents to write their councilmember, Mr. McDuffie, to express their support for reinstatement of the benefits exclusion.

WELCOME FLYER. Ms. Kathleen Sutherland edited the flyer intended for distribution to new residents welcoming them to the Michigan Park neighborhood.

D.C. FEDERATION OF CIVIC ASSOCIATIONS.  Mr. Paul Wood reported that he had attended the September meeting of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations at the invitation of President.  MPCA is a member of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations and is represented by MPCA delegate, Ms. Elizabeth McGowen.  Both groups meet at 441 4th Street NE, near Judiciary Square. The invitation was in response to outreach by MCPA earlier in the year.  Mr. Wood addressed the Civic Federation members and described many of the issues MPCA shares with the adjoining neighborhood civic associations to include Brookland Civic Association, North Michigan Park Civic Association, and Queens Chapel Civic Association.  These issues included crime, traffic, and city services.  MPCA members were invited to attend the annual banquet of the Civic Federation planned for October 29, 2016 at the Navy Yard Banquet and Conference Center.

SAINT JOSEPH’S DEVELOPMENT. Members discussed the status of the planned development of the property surrounding the Saint Joseph’s Seminary. The Planned Urban Development (PUD) proposal was submitted in August, 2016.  A Set Down meeting, open to the public, is held by the DC Office of Zoning on October 17, 2016.  EYA will present during this meeting. Although open to the public, no public comments are accepted at this meeting.  Further meetings for public testimony will be scheduled for later this year or early 2017. Mr. Hayden Wetzel is nearing completion of an application for historic preservation of the Seminary building and easement.  ANC John Feeley noted that an attorney, Mr. Brown, stated at one of the ANC meetings that the land to the front of Saint Joseph’s will be set aside in perpetuity and that such a step is almost unheard of.  The traffic study is completed and is now a matter of record – the 1200 Varnum Street Comprehensive Traffic Review.  EYA should be invited along with DDOT to discuss at a scheduled meeting.

President Conrad suggested that MPCA’s Executive Committee draft a position about the proposed EYA development for consideration by members.  The draft should address four points: comprehensive plan and zoning, architectural designs, historic preservation, and traffic (to include parking and safety). President Conrad will take the lead with the executive committee.

JOHN FEELEY. ANC5B05, noted that public hearings have been extended for the planned Jamal garage near Brookland/CUA Metro Station.

ANC ELECTIONS. President David Conrad had invited all candidates for ANC office within the boundaries of Michigan Park to address the association members.  Four candidates participated: Charles T. Lockett, candidate for 5A02; Benjamin Mossberg, candidate for 5A02; Lionel Gaines, candidate for 5A03; and John Feeley current ANC and candidate for 5B05.  Mr. Lockett and Mr. Mossberg were the only two candidates present who were running for the same position, currently held by Mr. Grace Lewis.  Each of the candidates introduced themselves to the membership and answered questions. Mr. Locket is a life-time DC resident, Vietnam veteran and retired facilities manager. Mr. Mossberg is employed by the Department of State.  Mr. Gaines recently was hired by the Mayor’s Office. John Feeley, who is running unopposed, discussed the planned Jamal garage near Brookland/CUA Metro Station.  According to Mr. Feeley, the planned development does not have any backers, either financiers or potential business customers. The period for public hearings for the garage has been extended by the Office of Zoning.

Back to School night at Bunker Hill Elementary, Fall 2016. L to R (Ms. Carter, Principal Chuchemba, Mr. Wood).

Back to School night at Bunker Hill Elementary, Fall 2016. L to R (Ms. Carter, Principal Kuchemba, Mr. Wood).

BUNKER HILL ELEMENTARY.  Ms. Roxanne Carter noted that she and Mr. Paul Wood set up a table at the Bunker Hill Elementary back-to-school event in September 13, passing out school bags and, for parents, information about MPCA. Principal Kara Kuchemba was very welcoming of our participation.

The meeting concluded by 9:00 P.M.

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Howard University Development

Please see the attached presentation by the Urban Land Institute for the Howard University School of Divinity, at 14th and Taylor Streets NE. Please see SLIDE #46 for the Conceptual Site Plan of the proposed development on what is referred to as the Howard East Campus.


The presentation was distributed in anticipation of the next ANC 5B meeting on Wednesday, October 26 at 6:30 PM hosted at HSC Pediatric Center, 1731 Bunker Hill Road NE. The ULI presentation covers:

Introduction and Overview Context
Market Conditions
Value Creation
Implementation Approach
Development Strategies
Site Design
Community Engagement

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Minutes September 2016

Michigan Park Citizens Association
6 September 2016
Ross Auditorium, Providence Hospital

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 7:08 p.m.

Treasurer Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.  Beulah highlighted the increase in membership and dues payments over the summer resulting from outreach efforts.

Opportunities for Cooperation with Neighboring Associations. President Conrad noted that that boundaries of several neighborhood civic associations overlap with that of the Michigan Park Citizens Association: North Michigan Park, Brookland, Queens Chapel and Woodridge. MPCA shares common area of concerns with these civic associations on several neighborhood issues. Members from North Michigan Park have attended our meetings addressing development along South Dakota Avenue. One example of common concern is the planned development of Howard University Divinity School, which may also impact Brookland, Queens Chapel and Woodridge. A recent example of cooperation was the joint meeting with Queens Chapel Civic Association hosting Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

Membership Recruitment. Discussion followed on neighborhood outreach by MPCA.  Mr. Conrad passed out a leaflet drafted by Secretary Paul Wood for hand delivery throughout the neighborhood. The leaflet solicited membership payments and noted MPCA’s website and the neighborhood listserv.  Members discussed including a self-addressed, stamped envelope to improve the number of responses.  Mr. Ralph Bucksell noted that he included self-addressed, stamped envelopes with the leaflets he distributed. Members also discussed the neighborhood boundaries. Mr. Ralph Bucksell related that the city has changed his listed neighborhood on its property records.  Real estate boundaries are fluid and not reliable.  Mr. Conrad noted that an erroneous ABC map was copied into DC Planning documents. Kathleen Sutherland volunteered to edit the leaflet to incorporate suggestions from Ralph Bucksell and Roxanne Carter.

Web-site Development and On-line Pay Portal. President Conrad raised the possibility of adding an option on the MPCA website to enable electronic payments. Paypal is preferred as an on-line payment option.  Roxanne Carter moved to accept an electronic means of payment for regular membership dues of $10 plus $1 administrative fee.

Members discussed that donations are also received for the garden fund and the Christmas fund supporting a needy family. Terri Sally moved to allow donations via electronic means of payment without an administrative fee. Motion was carried.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC).  Mr. Conrad noted that the association’s boundaries include the boundaries of five Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) areas. With the coming November elections, members discussed inviting the ANC candidates to introduce themselves during the October’s membership meeting.  It was moved to invite the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) candidates running for election to the five open seats: 5A02, 5A03, 5B01, 5B02 and 5B05. Motion was passed.

EYA Planned Urban Development (PUD).  EYA, developers for the grounds of Saint Joseph Seminary, submitted a PUD on 9 August. Those residents who reside within 200 feet of the Saint Joseph Seminary property will receive notification of the public hearing. Mr. Conrad requested that he be informed by those residents and members of MPCA when they receive a notice. The newly revised zoning regulations became effective on the day of this meeting, Tuesday, 6 September. MPCA must apply for standing to testify at the public hearing. At the time of application, the applicant must state position for or against the development.  Concerns were expressed over the impact of possible parking from the development on 12th Street on the emergency vehicles approaching Providence Hospital. Kathleen Sutherland moved to begin the application process for standing before the D.C. Board of Zoning.  Motion was passed.

Department of Transportation (DDOT).  Members discussed inviting representatives from DDOT to a meeting along with EYA to address traffic concerns arising from the planned development. President Conrad also stated his intention to form a working group among interested neighbors on this matter.

Councilmember McDuffies’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Demetris Cheatham, was in attendance and stated that she could assist MPCA when reaching out to D.C. Government Agencies.

The meeting concluded at 08:55 p.m.

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What’s in the Name of Michigan Park

What’s in the Name of Michigan Park

Searches on internet based maps often result in conflicting information about neighborhood boundaries.  A recent search in the ADC map book, referencing dates from 2002,  Alexandria Drafting Co ( shows the neighborhoods of Michigan Park and North Michigan Park reversed, with Michigan Park located North of North Michigan Park.  This error was duplicated in a D.C. Office of Planning presentation, which was recognized by a Michigan Park resident and architect.  Another search on DC Atlas Plus ( depicted North Michigan Park to the East of Michigan Park.  The writer’s own smart phone regularly defaults to either University Heights or Woodridge.

The city’s administrative boundaries are made without regard to the neighborhoods.  Michigan Park is divided among three police service areas (PSAs), 405, 503 and 504, from two Metropolitan Police Districts (MPD), 4th District and 5th District.  Five Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) represent areas of Michigan Park – 5A02, 5A03, 5B01, 5B02, and 5B05.  The ANC, like the policy districts, are also divided between two larger administrative boundaries, 4th and 5th Voting Districts.

In the summer of 2002, under the leadership of the Anthony A. Williams Administration, the Office of Planning developed a service concept focused on the individual neighborhoods called the Neighborhood Cluster.  Thirty-nine Neighborhood Cluster were identified within the District of Columbia in coordination with the neighborhood associations to provide a combined action plan for public safety, recreation and parks, and schools.  Michigan Park was identified with Neighborhood Cluster 20 along with North Michigan Park and University Heights.  Four neighborhood associations were involved – Michigan Park Citizens Association, North Michigan Park Civic Association, Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association, and Queens Chapel Civic Association.  Unfortunately, the neighborhood cluster concept did not continue under following Mayoral administrations.

Neighborhood Cluster 20

Neighborhood Cluster 20

Real estate listings can be equally confusing as the advertised subdivision (ADV) reflects marketing strategies and is separate from the listed Legal Subdivision (Legal).

Related to the neighborhood boundaries are the neighborhood associations of which there are two types, the citizens association and civic association, both represented by separate federations, the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations and the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. Michigan Park Citizens Association represents Michigan Park and University Heights and is a member of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations. Queens Chapel Civic Association, somewhat isolated from Michigan Park East of South Dakota and North of Michigan Park Avenues, amiably separated from Michigan Park Citizens Association in 1965 and is a member of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations.  Other neighborhood associations adjacent to or overlapping with Michigan Park Citizens Association are civic associations. These are North Michigan Park Civic Association, Woodridge Civic Association and Brookland Civic Association.

In the past, neighboring neighborhood associations have coordinated their boundaries. An example of this was described in an article of the Evening Star when representative of Michigan Park Citizens Association and Lamond Citizens Association (now Lamont-Riggs Citizens Association) met to discuss their boundaries. Since that time, much growth has occurred in the area, and Michigan Park and Lamond-Riggs is now separated by North Michigan Park.



One last note. On September 16, 2016, the Washington Post published an article online related to neighborhood areas. Entitled, “North End of Shaw: Will it Stick like NoMa or Flop like SoMo?” by Perry Stein, it described the invented, fluid and evolving neighborhood names. see

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MPCA Special Meeting August 2016

Michigan Park Citizens Association
Special Meeting
9 August 2016
Ross Auditorium, Providence Hospital

Members and neighbors of Michigan Park Citizens Association met at a special meeting called by President David Conrad to discuss the development of the property surrounding the Saint Joseph’s Seminary and, generally, the planned developments in the neighborhood. Representatives from the developer for Saint Joseph were in attendance.

Other planned developments within Michigan Park include the property of Howard University Divinity School near the corner of Taylor and 14th Streets and  a parking garage just North of the Brookland/CUA Metro Station. Another proposed development, though not within Michigan Park but which may impact the neighborhood is a planned housing development in North Michigan Park.

President Conrad exhibited maps, included below, to display the boundaries of Michigan Park Citizens Association, the ANC Single Member Districts overlapping with our historic neighborhood, the open vs built up properties and the current zoning.

The traditional boundaries of the Michigan Park Citizens Association are overlapped by the administrative boundaries of four Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners.


The built up of constructed dwellings, facilities and business are depicted in the following graphic along with the remaining open spaces of parks (dark green) and institutional land (light green).

MPCA Figure Ground + prime st small

Lastly is the newly revised zoning. The newly approved DCOZ Zoning Handbook may be found at,


MPCA Zoning w Key

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