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Chevy Chase DC Rejects Historic Status

Residents of the District's Chevy Chase area have voted overwhelmingly to reject historic district designation for their neighborhood. The long-awaited results of a survey asking residents if they want to be part of a proposed historic district came out like this:

IN FAVOR: 108 (22.9%)
OPPOSED: 363 (77.1%)
NO OPINION: 3
TOTAL VOTING: 459 (51% of 930 ballots sent)

The survey, conducted jointly by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 3/4G and 3E and the Chevy Chase Citizens Association, is the strongest statement yet by residents seeking to slam the brakes on the District government's aggressive efforts to impose historic status on much of the city, and on the small groups of activists intent on raising fears about looming (but actually barely existent) McMansionization of city neighborhoods.

Here's some coverage of the debate from blogs around town.

Opponents of the historic designation say that status would create difficult bureaucratic hurdles for residents who want to make even the simplest renovations to their houses, while adding great expense to home projects. Proponents argue that the area is threatened by developers who might want to tear down existing houses and put up larger or aesthetically inappropriate buildings.

The survey results don't necessarily guarantee that the D.C. historic preservation office will back down from its push to declare the area historic. D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) is moving to change the rules so that the city would have to accede to the wishes of a neighborhood's residents, but for now, the preservation review board has the right to overrule residents' desires. The advisory neighborhood commissions serving the area intend to vote on the historic district proposal, and several commissioners have said they will give great weight to the results of the survey--but the ANCs' position is not binding on the District government.


By Marc Fisher |  October 20, 2008; 4:33 PM ET
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Comments

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I grew up on Glendale Rd, in the Hamlet section of Chevy Chase. I am not certain what area is in question, but I will say this. When I moved from the area it was already being developed. At the intersection of Dunlop and Glendale there were several hidious houses built. They did not look like they belonged in the neighborhood at all. At my old Elementary School, NCC, what used to be a bluebird sanctuary another group of McMansions were constructed. Across the street from the old Lake Grocery store MORE were build. It saddens me to see all these monstrosities in an area that used to have such a small town quaintness. My parents moved to Mt. Airy MD years ago and the same thing is happening there. Why cant neighborhoods be constructed like they used to instead of trying to build as many of the biggest houses you can on the smallest plot of land. If I want to borrow a cup of sugar from my next door neighbor, I would like to have to walk across the lawn to get there, not open my window and be able to knock on theirs.

Posted by: DR | October 20, 2008 5:35 PM

The story says, at least three times, that this is the Washington, D.C. section of Chevy Chase. So I am assuming that this little uproar affects DC and not your old neighborhood.

Posted by: Jay | October 20, 2008 6:43 PM

So 363 out of 930 oppose designation. Sounds like to me Marc is either dealing with a skewed version of math or has an agenda with this blog entry.

Posted by: Lukas | October 20, 2008 7:20 PM

There seems to be quite a lot which Marc Fisher's contorted AGENDA does not allow.

MacMansions are rarely built to code.

They most likely, as do many other buildings, employ the so-called LIGHT CONSTRUCTION which burns like crazy !

These MacMansions represent a THREEFOLD HAZARD to the lives of residents and emergency crews because of their CONSTRUCTION, their SIZE and their CLOSE PROXIMITY !!

God save you when things heat up, maybe, nobody else will !!!

Leave it up to the firefighters to DIE TRYING !!!!

Posted by: Firefighter | October 20, 2008 8:35 PM

Lukas - what's skewed about reporting actual statistics? 363 out of 459 oppose historical designation. Votes not cast don't count.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington blade | October 20, 2008 8:44 PM

This area is full of people who want to impose there will on others. I am sure they won't get the message until they find another "do good" project.

Posted by: resident | October 20, 2008 8:49 PM

There are over 900 property owners according to the statistics. If people feel passionately, they voted against. I don't think the non-votes can be construed as either opposed or in favor, nor should they not be factored.

Posted by: Lukas | October 20, 2008 9:21 PM

The "real" Chevy Chase is in Maryland. The DC version has higher crime, smaller houses, and is (relatively) poorer.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2008 9:45 PM

Good! Let the busybodies do whatever they want and build 12-story skyscrapers on 1/2 acre parcels! Crush the old biddies! Yeagh!

Posted by: Bix | October 21, 2008 9:31 AM

Marc Fisher writes that the vote stopped the District government's effort to make Chevy Chase a historic district. As is the case in other articles on preservation matters written by Mr. Fisher, that statement is untrue. A local citizens group has been attempting to designate the area as historic. The District government's participation has come in the form of attending community meetings, answering questions and giving advice, and developing design guidelines for the neighborhood that were intended to indicate to homeowners what kind of changes to their homes were acceptable and what were not. The District's Historic Preservation Office can hardly be said to have been "aggressive" in this matter. I realize that Mr. Fisher is not a journalist in this column but rather states his opinion. However, I think that it is important that the Washington Post have standards of accuracy that all of their writers adhere to.

Posted by: chevy chase resident | October 21, 2008 12:17 PM

Considering the problems faced by the District of Columbia, it is sad that so much has been spent on pursuing hedonism cast as historic preservation. A prudent move would be for the DC government to dismantle the bloated historic preservation office and reallocate the assets towards education and infrastructure. Historic preservation is not a need; it is a luxury towards which too much public money is tossed.

Posted by: Marylander | October 21, 2008 2:20 PM

I never received a ballot to vote. I am glad the ANC has rigged this so nicely.

Posted by: I wanted an Historic District | October 21, 2008 2:46 PM

Gee Marc, why didn't you tell people you live in the section of Chevy Chase being considered for historic status? Afraid to write something accurate?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM

Gee Marc, why didn't you tell people you live in the section of Chevy Chase being considered for historic status? Afraid to write something accurate?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM

Gee Marc, why didn't you tell people you live in the section of Chevy Chase being considered for historic status? Afraid to write something accurate?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM

Gee Marc, why didn't you tell people you live in the section of Chevy Chase being considered for historic status? Afraid to write something accurate?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM

Gee Marc, why didn't you tell people you live in the section of Chevy Chase being considered for historic status? Afraid to write something accurate?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM

To the above who complains of not receiving a ballot: What did you think all those front lawn posters were about that have been visible for the past couple of months thoughout Chevy Chase, DC? Did these not make you wonnder whether something was going on, and spur you to inquire? Please do not bring your hindsight inactivity into the vote that people who cared actually paticipated in.

Posted by: Brian | October 22, 2008 8:39 AM

I knew about the issue, but have come to learn that most of the communication was on the local listserver, and I was told by a neighbor that I was to receive a ballot in the mail. I never received such a ballot and am not on the listserver.

So yes, there is a responsibility on the part of the ANC, or whomever is sending out the ballots to make sure they are all received and collected. Posting notices of an extension etc. on a forum where not everyone is a subscriber is not effective.

I wonder how many of the others who "didn't vote" never received a ballot either?

Posted by: I wanted an Historic District | October 22, 2008 10:59 AM

Good for them. Historic status does nothing to enhance the neighborhood and in fact is a detriment to city living. Case in point: The blasted brick sidewalks they insist on installing in the "historic" districts of the city. They don't shed ice and snow as well as concrete does, the city never seems to repair them correctly, and they're constantly shifting, causing problems for the handicapped (much less normal pedestrians). Useless BS to make someone feel good about their pretty, old houses.

Posted by: Moose | October 22, 2008 12:18 PM

Historic designation has absolutely nothing to do with brick sidewalks in public space.

Posted by: Lukas | October 22, 2008 1:16 PM

Brick sidewalks are part of DDOT's streetscape improvements. HPO has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2008 5:02 PM

To the person who wanted the historic district but didn't get an ANC ballot: Please contact me at (202) 362-9279 and I'll make sure your yes vote is recorded with the hundreds of other supporters who have already weighed in. The "108 Yes votes" in the ANC's flawed survey is a fraction of what we have on record.

Posted by: merowse@aol.com | October 23, 2008 1:11 AM

Regarding the writer who described, "The "108 Yes votes" in the ANC's flawed survey is a fraction of what we have on record." Had the survey ended with a different result, i.e., in favor of a historic district I'm sure you would have hailed its accuracy and thoroughness. Give me a break.

Posted by: Down the Street | October 23, 2008 7:19 AM

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