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Letter From Linda K. Argo, Director DCRA, About Uptown ARTS Overlay District

by Prince Of Petworth April 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm 28 Comments

Last week week we had a huge discussion about “no New Building Permits or C of Os will be issued to eating and drinking establishments in MidCity (14th and U Streets, NW)”. The Director of DCRA, Linda Argo recently sent out a letter to clarify the situation. She writes:

“Also, it is very important to note that the Office of Planning is finalizing recommendations to the Zoning Commission to increase the 25% cap on eating and drinking establishments, as well as how the cap is calculated. These proposed amendments will be submitted to the Zoning Commission by April 26, 2010.”

Word on the street is that the increase could go up to 50%.

See full overlay map here – Uptown ARTS Overlay District

Full letter after the jump.

Dear Councilmembers, ANC Commissioners, business owners, and residents:

Because there has been much confusion recently on the issue of zoning overlays, below is a short summary of the zoning regulations applicable to the Uptown ARTS overlay district along the 14th and U Streets, NW corridors.

The Uptown ARTS overlay district was created by the Zoning Commission in 1990. It caps eating and drinking establishments at 25% of the total street frontage in the overlay district. The DCRA Office of the Zoning Administrator simply enforces the overlay district’s cap; it has no legal authority to modify or override any zoning restrictions contained within an overlay district.

DCRA has completed a preliminary inventory of the eating and drinking establishments within the overlay district, and we believe the 25% cap on total street frontage has been reached. I’ve attached a draft spreadsheet with our calculations of the linear frontage of each eating/drinking establishment within the boundaries of the Uptown ARTS overlay district. If you have any questions about the linear street frontage calculations, please contact Zoning Administrator Matthew LeGrant at [email protected]

Also, it is very important to note that the Office of Planning is finalizing recommendations to the Zoning Commission to increase the 25% cap on eating and drinking establishments, as well as how the cap is calculated. These proposed amendments will be submitted to the Zoning Commission by April 26, 2010.

I also need to make clear that although the Zoning Administrator must, pursuant to the zoning regulations, deny applications for a certificate of occupancy for any business seeking to open an eating or drinking establishment after the overlay district reaches the 25% cap, the applicant can seek a special exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustment. If the Board of Zoning Adjustment grants the special exception, DCRA will issue the certificate of occupancy and the business may open.

For your reference, I have attached a PDF of the Uptown ARTS overlay district. Please note that the 25% cap applies only to eating or drinking establishments located along the lots fronting on 14th Street (between slightly north of N Street and Florida Avenue) and U Street (between 9th and 15th Streets).

Regards,

Linda Argo

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