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1167 Morse Street Next on the Block for Condo Conversion

A developer is seeking special variance to convert the single family home at 1167 Morse Street NE into an apartment home with three units. The structure proposed would rise to 34 feet, just under the 35 feet allowed, but with the penthouse roof shown in plans the building would be nearly 40 feet in height. The building will also be extended back significantly but the plans do not indicate how many feet beyond the neighboring single family homes this will extend.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 7.47.16 AMWhile the regulations are that the dormers, which are architecturally significant to the existing building, be retained the developer is seeking special variance to remove those from the roof line. This would be a break in the uniformity of buildings on the block. The developer also cites that the third story addition will not have an impact on light, air, or privacy of neighboring homes.

The application also notes that the developer would extend the chimney at the neighboring house at 1165 Morse Street. One parking space will be provided for the three units.

Trinidad residents can access all plans and documents submitted for this project on the Board of Zoning Adjustment website. The case number 19326 has been assigned to this project and will be needed to search for information or to include in any letters written to the BZA concerning this project. Details on how to submit written or oral testimony about a project can also be found on the BZA website.

To request variance the developer should appear before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5D06 to seek input and explain the project to neighbors. They also need to appear before the full ANC 5D to present the project. Neighbors have opportunity to weigh in at these meetings, may submit written testimony about the project, and/or can attend the hearing at the BZA once a date has been set for the case to be reviewed.

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R-4 Zoning Changes in Effect

Concerned about a large addition planned next door? Designing plans for an extension or a roof deck? Then you may want to read up on the new regulations regarding pop-ups in DC. The DC Zoning Commission voted on new regulations in early June following an extensive comment and review period. The regulations have been posted in the DC Register and are, therefore, effective as of June 26.

Trinidad is a neighborhood that primarily has housing zoned as R-4 with some commercial (C-2-A) areas along Florida, Bladensburg and in the 1600 block of Montello Ave. The regulations are intended to preserve the character of row house neighborhoods that are zoned R-4 and maintain housing that is sufficiently large for families with children. Developers have pushed limits up and back (pop-ups) to provide condos on former sites of single-family dwellings, leaving many neighbors overshadowed with little access to air and light in their yards. The new regulations are in large part in reaction to the impact on neighborhoods.

What are some of the changes you should know about?

  • R-4 buildings will be limited as a matter of right to 35 feet (down from 40 feet). The Bureau of Zoning Adjustment can grant an exception to this matter of right limit.
  • Conversions to multi-family dwellings require BZA exception for more than two units. Two units are a matter of right.
  • A rear addition cannot extend more than 10 feet beyond the limit of an adjacent neighbor’s house.
  • The number of stories is limited to three. Previously a mezzanine was not considered a story and some development plans listed a mezzanine to add height. Under the new regulations a mezzanine counts as a floor.
  • Any addition built onto a house (penthouse, roof structure) cannot interfere with solar energy panels/systems on neighboring homes.
  • Additions must not interfere with access to light and air or adversely affect the use and enjoyment of neighboring properties.

The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has prepared a FAQ sheet regarding the new regulations. You can read a copy at this link:

There have been extensive articles written about the new regulations as well and those can be located through Internet searches.

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