The name of attorney Norman Glasgow was misspelled in last week's District Weekly in a story about a zoning board hearing concerning property on the edge of the Brightwood section of the city.
"We like Brightwood because of the lovely old homes, the trees and the convenience to downtown," said Lawrence Chatman, who lives in the heart of the neighborhood. "We have bus lines leading everywhere. We can walk to Rock Creek Park.It's quiet. Everything that makes a place nice to live in we have here. We're a stable neighborhood."
But according to Chatman, who lives at 1400 Montague St., and his neighbors, that atmosphere could be lost if a zoning change application for a triangular section of land at the edge of Brightwood is approved.
"If the zoning changes, then someone will start turning these big homes into two or three apartment units," said Horace Caldwell, who also lives at 1400 Montague St. "Then we'll get store fronts and living room churches, the way 14th Street and Georgia Avenue have them. Townhouses today, gas stations and who knows what else tomorrow. A zoning change opens an area up to these kinds of things."
Brightwood is bordered by Decatur and Aspen streets, 7th Street and Rock Creek Park. The triangular plot in question, owned by Mary C.B. Scott, is at 14th, Nicholson Lane and Manchester Street. Scott has applied to the Zoning Board for rezoning from R-1B, which allows single-family detached houses, to R-5A, which would allow townhouses to be built.
About 70 Brightwood residents interested in the issue attended a Zoning Board hearing last week at the Fourth District Police Headquarters just outside Brightwood. Many were members of Citizens for the Preservation of Neighborhoods. Chatman is president of the group, which is leading the fight against the zoning changes.
Due to unfinished business before the board, zoning commissioners at the 7 p.m. hearing did not tackle the Brightwood question until 8:45 p.m. Dr. Walter Lewis, chairman of the Zoning Board, announced that witnesses would appear in the following order: the applicants, the Municipal Planning Office, supporters of the applicants and opponents of the application.
Norman Glassko, an attorney; William S. Harps, a real estate appraiser, and John D. Sulton, an architect, testifying for the applicant explained that Scott wanted to build six, three-bed-room townhouses on the triangular plot. The houses would be sold for $90,000 to $95,000 each.
Glassko stressed that the townhouses would generate additional tax revenues and would help meet the District's need for housing. If detached houses were constructed on the plot, which includes almost 15,000 square feet, only three houses could be built and these would have to sell for about $110,000, Harps said. He added that because of the nature of the plot, two of the homes would have to face apartment houses across 14th Street, detracting from the marketability of the homes.
During questioning by Larry Goodwin from the Citizens for Preservation, Harps and Sulton were asked why Scott couldn't build single-family homes that would face Nicholson Street. They admitted that no site plan had been developed for single-family homes.
Ben Gilbert of the District's Municipal Planning Office testified that his office "recognised the desirability of townhouse development" since construction costs were lower and since townhouses conserve energy. His staff, however, leaned toward limiting the site to six townhouses (the original application had requested nine) and toward R-3 zoning, rather than R-3, Gilbert said, would "assure that only six units are built on the plot."
Verna Collins was the only citizen who spoke in support of the zoning change. She said that as a single person and as a prospective buyer for one of the townhouses, she wanted to see the houses built. Most single-family homes were too expensive for her to purchase, she said.
At 10 p.m., Lewis said it was too late in the evening for the opposition to state its case.He set July 10 as the date for continuation of the hearing.