Residents of Tenley and Friendship Heights are protesting the Safeway Corporation's application to expand a local store into residentially zoned property.
Safeway wants to more than double the interior size and parking area of a store at 42nd Street and Ellicott Street NW.
In a hearing held before the Board of Zoning Appeals last week, John R. Mitchell, real estate manager of Safeway's District division, said the added store space and parking was needed to service a growing number of patrons and provide a greager volume of food and non-food items to the Tenley-Friendship Heights neighborhood.
Attorney Aidan Jones, an area resident, represented Tenley residents and members of the Friendship Neighborhood Coalition (FNC) who oppose the expansion. FNC represents 1,100 area residents who have been active in zoning and planning in Friendship Heights.
Residents oppose the expansion for numerous reasons, said Jones. They feel Safeway's intention is to create a regional operation that will ultimately create more traffic and pollution problems, he said. If Safeway is successful, Jones said, this might lead to more commercial zoning on that site. The land, which is owned by the Harry family, is the only parcel of available undeveloped land in Tenley, said Jones.
During the past two years, members of the Tenley Citizens Advisory Group, a neighborhood planning association, have been working with the Municipal Planning Office on a sectional development plan for their area. Jones said the rezoning might limit their proposed development scheme.
"Safeway should be premited to build as they wish in the permitted zoning but should not be able to expand commercial use into the residentially zoned land," said Jones.
Mary C. Barry, Advisory Neighborhood Commission representative for district 3E03, said several area residents supported a amended expansion plan. In a letter submitted to BZA, Safeway supporters asked that a 50-foot landscaped setback be built along the west side of the parking lot - the area between River Road and Ellicott Street. Wall heights, they said, should be decided by owners of adjoining property and the parking lot and plants should be carefully maintained.
On Oct. 11, BZA will hold a rehearing on these and other amendments. However, Safeway representatives said the new application will make allowances for a 30-foot, west side buffer rather than the 50-foot buffer requested by the residents.
If rezoning is not approved, Safeway has maintained that it will continue to operate the store.