The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment yesterday denied a request from John O. Antonelli for a zoning permit that would allow him to continue operating a parking lot in the 1700 block of N Street NW that has caused a community uproar.
Antonelli, stepson of multimillionaire developer and parking tycoon Dominic F. Antonelli Jr., has operated the lot for five years without the required city permit.
John Antonelli could not be reached for comment yesterday on his plans as a result of the board's 3-to-0 decision.
The application stirred up citizens in the Dupont Circle neighborhood not only because they objected to the parking lot but also because Antonelli had said he would demolish three Victorian homes that he owns on a site in front of the parking lot.
Nick Addams, an attorney representing several citizens on the block who opposed the parking lot, called the board's decision "a paper victory." He said he doubted if the city would close down the parking lot.
Douglas Schneider, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, told the zoning board in May that the parking lot was operating illegally.
Steven E. Sher, executive director of the board, said the panel "could take enforcement action but whether as a practical matter we would do that I'm not sure."
Board member Walter B. Lewis cited a ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals last week overturning a board decision because the panel had granted a permit to an illegal parking lot.
"I listen to the court and the court says you should not legalize something that is illegal," he said.
Lewis also said he opposed granting the permit for the lot because it would "adversely affect" the surrounding community.
Board members William F. McIntosh and Chloethiel Woodard Smith joined Lewis in denying the application while chairman Leonard L. McCants and Charles R. Norris abstained.
"I think it's a wonderful decision. I'm very pleased," said Anne R. Sellin, chairman of the zoning committee of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. "We're just against parking lots in the neighborhood . . . It's a terrible use of the land and they are eyesores. We want them phased out of the neighborhood."
While cheering the decision, George P. Lamb, an attorney whose office is on the block, said his primary aim was to save the old houses. "I hope this doesn't lead to the demolition of the buildings," he said.