Friday, September 07, 2007

Church Threatens Community with Development

In the ongoing community discussion about the demolition of a house on Patterson Street, near the Blessed Sacrement Church/School, one neighborhood activist posted a letter on the Chevy Chase Listserve reiterating a request made of the Institution to withold the demolition of the house pending the outcome of a now scheduled BZA hearing in February, 2008.
According to the letter, the DC Committee of 100 has stated:

"We find that it would be precipitous to raze the house before the special exception has been granted. Were it not to be granted, the Chevy Chase community would find itself with a vacant lot, never an amenity in a residential neighborhood.

The letter also asks that if the house is to be demolished, that it at least be deconstructed (to the tune of an additional $20,000-40,000) so as to reuse historic details of the house and spare landfills of unnecessary tonnage. As it is, Blessed Sacrement wishes to have the house razed as soon as possible.

The theory behind the request to delay the raze is the seeming consensus behind the concept that there is either a historic house or a playspace for the institution on the site. However, very few wanted to see the property demolished simply to make room for a host of new development on the property. However, it appears that this is exactly the game being played by the Church. According to one contributor:

If by some chance there was an overwhelming shift in public sentiment and the BZA did not approve the plan, we would not end up with an empty lot but rather two or three new homes.

So even though the BZA rules based on law, not "public sentiment", it is clear that the church is basically saying that if the community doesn't support their plans, they will dispose of the property (sans nice old house) to a developer who will do exactly what nobody wanted.

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