Takoma Metro update: Board vote Thursday… and council matters

The WMATA (Metro) board is scheduled to vote this Thursday, March 27, on 1) an amended and restated Takoma Joint Development Sales Agreement (JDA) and 2) a proposed Compact Public Hearing on changes to WMATA facilities. I’ll provide information, but first, a council update.

March 31 City Council Meeting

The Monday, March 31 city-council meeting will include a number of items of interest. We’re slated to have three presentation items, starting at 7 pm:

  • Relocation of Washington Adventist Hospital – Update from Hospital President Joyce Newmyer
  • Anti-Littering Campaign Presentation
  • Police Department Annual Report

Also on March 31, the council is slated to have a work session (council and staff) Discussion of Information Retention from Public Safety Cameras. The cameras in question are license-plate scanners, used by the city to identify stolen vehicles. Current policy, set when the council first approved the scanners, is 30-day retention, with no information sharing with other police agencies. These restrictions were in large part a reaction to the state police’s spying on Takoma Park activists. (See 2008 Washington Post coverage.) Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg would like authorization to retain data for a longer time, and to share data with other agencies, in order to fight crime more effectively.

The March 31 background items, including the presentations, will be posted in advance of the meeting. Please relay your comments on these or other matters to me at sethg@takomaparkmd.gov or 301-873-8225, or to all council members via clerk@takomaparkmd.gov, attend the meeting and comment then.

I’m also happy to discuss these and other matters in person, at my drop-in office time, the fourth Wednesday of each month (tomorrow, March 26), 8-9 am, and the second Tuesday, 5-6 pm, at my office, 7006 Carroll Avenue, #202, above the Middle East Cuisine restaurant.

WMATA Board Vote

The WMATA board is slated to vote this Thursday, March 27, on a resolution that would advance the Takoma Metro development to next stages: A WMATA public hearing and the Washington DC Planned Unit Development (zoning) process, necessary to allow the developer, EYA, to put up a building that exceeds zoning limits.

EYA’s current building design does far, far exceed zoning limits. Most egregiously, EYA has designed a building rising to 72 feet (plus parapets, possibly) in a parcel zoned with 40 and 50 foot limits. The City of Takoma Park asked WMATA to defer action on the JDA, until the building size and other issues were addressed — Washington DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4B made the same request — but WMATA’s Planning, Program Development, and Real Estate (PPDRE) Committee chose to move ahead regardless. PPDRE, at its March 13 meeting, approved the resolution authorizing signing of an amended and restated Takoma Joint Development Sales Agreement (JDA) with developer EYA. (The previous JDA with EYA had expired.)

WMATA board chair Tom Downs chaired the March 13 PPDRE meeting, and also the prior, February 20 meeting, in the absence of committee chair (and Washington DC Ward 4 Councilmember) Muriel Bowser. I testified at the February 20 meeting; Maryland board alternate (and former Takoma Park mayor) Kathy Porter interceded at the meeting to convince the committee to invite the City of Takoma Park to submit a prioritized list of requests regarding the board resolution. We did that, and at the March 13 meeting, again with Kathy’s intercession, the committee accepted a number of the city’s points, although PPDRE declined to accept our key request, to mandate that developer EYA redesign the building to reduce its height to comply with by-right zoning limits.

The March 27 Board Action/Information Summary is online.

To be clear: The city’s view, stated in our October 28 resolution, has not changed. Despite the board’s modifications to its Takoma Joint Development resolution, WMATA has adequately addressed only one of the concerns we expressed, a small one, therefore the city still asks that WMATA board approval of the amended and restated JDA be deferred.

I will report the March 27 WMATA board meeting outcome.

Leave a Reply