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Cover for HPA No. 1980-199 (In re. PEPCO Substation Number 12)
Cover for HPA No. 1980-199 (In re. PEPCO Substation Number 12)
dc.creatoren
dc.date.accessioned2015-04-28T14:33:48Zen
dc.date.available2015-04-28T14:33:48Zen
dc.date.created1980en
dc.date.issueden
dc.identifier1980-199en
dc.identifier.urien
dc.description[MD] *HPA Number: 1980-199 *Building Name: PEPCO Substation Number 12 *Case Name: Application for a Demolition Permit for a Building Located at 1020 33rd Street, NW *Location of Property: 1020 33rd Street, NW, Lot 831, Square 1184 *Date of Decision: June 25, 1980 *Type of Permit Sought: Demolition *Disposition: Granted *Date of Case Summary: July 6, 2007 *Summary of Decision:* The Potomac Electric Power Company (the “Applicant”) sought a permit for the demolition of: (i) an open transformer field and adjacent building constructed in 1950, (ii) the Conduit Building (constructed in 1888), and (iii) the Substation No. 12 building (constructed in 1898 to 1899), all of which were located at 1020 33rd Street, NW within the Georgetown Historic District. None of the existing structures was individually designated as a landmark, and came before the Mayor’s Agent on account of their location in the historic district. The Applicant argued that the permit should be granted on grounds that to do so was consistent with the purposes of the Act, as well as necessary to construct a project of special merit; the Applicant also argued that if the permit were denied, it would cause unreasonable economic hardship. The existing structures supplied electrical power to the Georgetown area, but were equipped with outmoded and overdutied equipment (most of the equipment was at least 30 years old). The Applicant wanted to replace the existing buildings with new facilities that would increase safety, security, and provide more efficient service to the Georgetown community. The Mayor’s Agent stated that the parties did not dispute that modernizing the Georgetown facilities was a project of special merit. Rather, the dispute between the parties centered on whether demolition of the structures was “necessary” to modernize the power facilities. The Applicant considered approximately eight proposed site development alternatives over a period of years, and determined that the best option was to demolish the subject structures and build a new facility on the site (certain façades would be retained). Parties in opposition to the application, including the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission, argued that there were alternative proposals for constructing a new substation elsewhere on the site that would permit retention of the nineteenth century structures; however, the Mayor’s Agent concluded that such proposals were “unproven,” and that they would require additional study, add to the total cost of the project, and that “partial or full disruption of electrical service to the Georgetown community could result.” Therefore, the Mayor’s Agent found the project “necessary” in the public interest to construct a project of special merit and granted the demolition permit. *Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:* The Applicant argued that D.C. law required referral only to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (the “CFA”) (which had reviewed the application and approved issuance of the demolition permits), and that, therefore, referral to the Joint Committee on Landmarks (the “JCL”) and the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (the “HPRB”) was improper. The Mayor’s Agent cited § 5(b) of the Act, and found that the Mayor’s Agent has discretionary authority to refer demolition applications to the HPRB, and stated that the “referral to the [JCL] was lawfully and actually made” without elaboration. The Applicant argued that an applicant should not have the burden of proof where the CFA has approved issuance of a demolition permit. The Mayor’s Agent stated that once a district has been designated historic and falls under the protection of the Act, it is assumed that all buildings and other elements contained therein contribute to the character of the district unless “convincingly proven otherwise,” and that an applicant has such burden by virtue of the D.C. Administrative Procedures Act (D.C. Code § 1-1509(b)). *Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:* The Mayor’s Agent concluded that since she had determined this was a project of special merit, the issue of whether demolition was consistent with the purposes of the Act did not need to be addressed. *Unreasonable Economic Hardship:* Likewise, the Mayor’s Agent concluded that since she had determined this was a project of special merit, the issue of whether denial of the demolition permit would cause unreasonable economic hardship did not need to be addressed. *Necessary in the Public Interest:* The opposition argued that to be “necessary,” a demolition proposal must be “the only feasible plan; that the demolition is unavoidable, essential, indispensable, that which cannot be dispensed with.” The Mayor’s Agent implicitly endorsed this argument, finding that the Applicant’s “detailed examination of possible alternatives over several years, beginning before passage of the Act... demonstrated that... [its] proposal is the only available alternative” (emphasis added). (Extensive discussion is given to each proposal considered by the Applicant.) The opposition had stated that if the Applicant carries out the plan as proposed (build a new facility on select portions of the property, transfer the electric load from the existing structures, then demolish the old structures and declare the portion of the property where the old structures used to sit as “non-utility” property, then sell that portion), the Applicant “hopes to reap a huge windfall profit from demolishing the protected buildings...,” because “without the buildings, the property will fetch a higher price and net the seller a higher profit.” The Mayor’s Agent responded that the Applicant’s analysis showed that the current proposal was “more than a convenient, feasible or economically advantageous plan.” Alternatives were considered for constructing a new facility on other portions of the site that would permit the nineteenth century buildings to stand, but such proposals were found to be “unproven” by the Mayor’s Agent. Additionally, readaptive use of the structures was considered, but dismissed for a variety of reasons, including existing grade differences, difficulty in complying with current building and safety regulations, as well as structural defects and problems overcoming them. *Project of Special Merit – Social or other Benefits having a High Priority for Community Services:* The Mayor’s Agent concluded that the demolition permit was necessary to construct a project of special merit, reasoning that the ability to provide electrical service is a high priority for the community, as agreed by all concerned parties. The Mayor’s Agent stated that the demolition permit was “necessary in order to continue to provide safe, reliable, efficient electrical service in a timely manner” and prevent any disruptions in electrical service to the Georgetown community. The Mayor’s Agent further noted that failure to go forward with the proposed project would seriously jeopardize the Applicant’s ability to provide electrical service to the Georgetown community. *Subsequent History:* This order was appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals (428 A.2d 369 (D.C. 1981). The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the Mayor’s Agent decision in part, but remanded the issue of whether demolition of the site’s “North Building” (also known as Substation Number 12) was properly before the Mayor’s Agent. On remand from the D.C. Court of Appeals (see HPA Number 1980-199, Order of November 1, 1983), the Mayor’s Agent reviewed the record to determine whether the North Building of the structure was in fact before her, and if so, to make a determination as to whether the demolition permit should be granted for the North Building. The Mayor’s Agent reiterated the references to the North Building contained in the June 25, 1980 decision and reaffirmed the decision to grant the demolition permit, concluding that the “[t]he North Building is a utilitarian warehouse structure which does not contribute to the historic district because it lacks a distinguishing history or worthy architectural features.” -- [1] Demolition of the open field of high voltage transformers and adjacent 1950 building was not contested. In their respective reviews of the application, neither the Joint Committee on Landmarks nor the Commission of Fine Arts deemed them to contribute to the significance of the Georgetown Historic District. Expert witnesses for the Applicant and the opposition also demonstrated that these transformers and adjacent building were of little or no architectural or historical significance. ----- *HPA Number: 1980-199 *Building Name: PEPCO Substation Number 12 *Case Name: Application for a Demolition Permit for a Building Located at 1020 33rd Street, NW (the North Building) *Location of Property: 1020 33rd Street, NW, Lot 831, Square 1184 *Date of Decision: November 1, 1983 *Type of Permit Sought: Demolition *Disposition: Granted *Date of Case Summary: July 5, 2007 *Summary of Decision:* The Potomac Electric Power Company (the “Applicant”) sought a permit for the demolition of several structures supplying power to the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. and located at 1020 33rd Street, NW, in the Georgetown Historic District. (None of the structures was individually designated as a landmark; rather, the application came before the Mayor’s Agent because the structures were contributing structures to the Georgetown Historic District.) By order dated June 25, 1980, the Mayor’s Agent granted the permit, finding that demolition was “necessary in the public interest” in order to allow the construction of “a project of special merit.” The order was subsequently reviewed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the order in part and reversed and remanded in part. Don’t Tear It Down, Inc. v. D.C. Dep’t of Housing and Community Development, 428 A.2d 369 (D.C. 1981), Specifically, the Court of Appeals remanded the order to the Mayor’s Agent to make a finding as to whether the North Building of the structures proposed to be demolished was in fact before her, and if so, to make specific findings as to whether the demolition permit should be granted for the North Building. Although the Mayor’s Agent requested additional evidence from the parties; none was forthcoming. The Mayor’s Agent granted the demolition permit, concluding that the North Building “lacks the distinguishing architectural features necessary to contribute to the historic district” and noted that the building was not listed as a DC landmark (in the local inventory of historic sites) or in the National Register of Historic Places. The Mayor’s Agent said that the North Building has “neither a unique history or outstanding design features which would contribute to the historic district.” *Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:* The Mayor’s Agent cited § 2(b)(1)(A) of the DC Historic Preservation Act, which states that its purpose is to “retain and enhance those properties which “contribute to the character of the historic district.” The Mayor’s Agent reiterated the references to the North Building that had been made in the prior order. *Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:* Based on testimony submitted in the prior order, the Mayor’s Agent concluded that the proposed project was consistent with the purposes of the Act. The Mayor’s Agent reasoned that "[t]he North Building is a utilitarian warehouse structure which does not contribute to the historic district because it lacks a distinguishing history or worthy architectural features." *Prior History:* This is the subject of a prior Mayor’s Agent Order (HPA Number 1980-199, Order of June 25, 1980), in which the Mayor’s Agent granted a demolition permit, concluding that the project was necessary in the public interest as one necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit. See also Don’t Tear It Down, Inc. v. D.C. Dep’t of Housing and Community Development, 428 A.2d 369 (D.C. 1981), the D.C. Court of Appeals case that led to this November 1, 1983 order. -----en
dc.format2 pdfsen
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.subjectDemolitionen
dc.subjectConsistent with Purposes of the Acten
dc.subjectEconomic Hardship (Generally)en
dc.subjectNecessary in the Public Interesten
dc.subjectSpecial Merit - Community Servicesen
dc.subjectMayor's Agent: D.C. Administrative Procedure Acten
dc.titleHPA No. 1980-199 (In re. PEPCO Substation Number 12)en
dc.typeRecord (document)en


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