Historic Review Board: DROP DEAD to all but Developers! St. Thomas project shows HPRB true colors (click for details)





Appearance before the District's Historic Preservation and Review Board (HPRB) is a daunting experience, unless one is a developer, redeveloper, or just plain sponsor of junky architecture. If one is a public witness espousing neighborhood preservation, it is virtually a waste of time.


Proposed redevelopment of St. Thomas Episcopal Church property at Dupont Circle is a case in point. Nevermind that the hearing began an hour and a half late, or that developers delivered lengthy presentations, followed by Q&A, the first order of business was to cut the 5-minute testimony time for public witnesses to 3 minutes – (about enough time to give name, rank and serial number.)


Even that speck of time was shot through with rude interruptions. Perish the thought that one mentioned religion, nevermind that the applicant was an Episcopal Church, and that a churchyard park, a historic altar and remnants of a sanctuary were very much at issue. Even briefly exceeding the paltry 3-minute mark prompted a gavel and a glare, since only time violations are important, not the import of developer remarks.


Rarely are public witnesses asked a question, no matter their expertise, since from the pained, bored, and impatient demeanor of the chair, who runs the whole show, the public is to be suffered not served. Meanwhile, members of the Board are generally so non-participatory, silent, and immobile, they resemble the statues of the pharoahs of Luxor, Egypt, rather than public servants.


Jim McGrath





Representing ALL D.C. Tenants

P.O. Box 7237, D.C. 20044

www.tenac.org - tenacdc@yahoo.com