ANC 3F turns away Burger King parking lot landscaping plan presented as alternative to addressing stormwater runoff | Forest Hills Connection |

The Burger King parking lot, which falls under the BZA order for 2018.

Less than a month before a deadline ordered by DC for rainwater mitigation, ANC 3F sent the Van Ness Burger King franchise back to the drawing board.

In return for a nine-year zoning deviation that allows the parking lot to be used beyond the drive-through, the Potomac Foods Group agreed to paving it with permeable paving in 2018. With the ordinance of the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA), a deadline of March 12, 2021 was set.

Late last year, representatives from Potomac Foods asked ANC 3F to support its petition to the BZA to get rid of the permeable patch condition.


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They told the commissioners that permeable paving would not work because the soil under the parking lot was too compact to hold rainwater. Other methods of measuring the runoff would also not work, as the water would still have to go somewhere and the nearest storm runoff is 300 feet away. At the ANC 3F meeting on February 16, an engineer hired by Potomac Foods said that reaching the drain would require digging Connecticut Avenue or the alley.

In November, the ANC said it would support the waiver motion if Potomac Foods and engineer Ken Griffin came up with alternatives they found acceptable. Mark James, Vice President of Potomac Foods, and engineer Ken Griffin then suggested adding about 1,500 square feet of green space to the parking lot. (Here is the PDF.) At the ANC meeting in February (video), however, Griffin said that any rainwater reduction would be minimal.

“It’s probably not intended to soak up a ton of water,” Griffin said. “It will beautify the area. It will be environmentally friendly because it is a lawn and not an asphalt surface. ”

Commissioners Stan Wall and Dipa Mehta criticized the plan.

“Yes, it will look a lot nicer with the planted areas, but it’s not much that really affects rainwater retention and runoff mitigation,” Wall said.

Both Wall and Mehta asked Griffin if Potomac Foods had considered carrying out rainwater mitigation in another part of the Soapstone Creek watershed.

“Now if the answer three years later is that the commitment cannot be met and that scientific evidence supports it … we really ask that you and your colleagues suggest an alternative that accomplishes the same goal,” Mehta said.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce runoff from everywhere,” said Wall. He mentioned a downpour last July that severely eroded the soapstone river bed. “The idea is that if we chip off these types of parking lots, we will gradually reduce the effects of this type of runoff.”

Griffin said he had not tested other parts of the soapstone watershed for rainwater reduction and would speak to Mark James, the vice president of Potomac Foods. James wasn’t at the February 16th meeting.

Regarding the March 12 deadline, an audience suggested that Potomac Foods could apply to the Board of Zoning Adjustment for a six month extension. And in the end, the ANC did not vote on a resolution that Commissioner Monika Nemeth had drafted to accept the Potomac Foods alternative.

An alternative that the Commissioners are currently considering was not discussed at the meeting. The district became the first US city to implement a cap-and-trade program for rainwater runoff in 2013, and its then director wrote about it for Forest Hills Connection.

The rainwater retention credit trading program is administered by the DC Department of Energy and the Environment. Businesses and property owners who contribute to the program offer others financial incentives to install green infrastructure. For example, a Connecticut Avenue home could install a green roof and apply for a credit on its water bill, which is paid for by a rainwater retention credit from Potomac Foods.

“When Burger King agrees to buy a certain number of High Impacts and retire them [Stormwater Retention Credits, or SRCs]We can record them over the years, track them, and send reminders if necessary to keep them in line, ”DOEE told Forest Hills Connection in an email. “We need clarity on the number of SRCs (i.e. the amount of volume) that Burger King is responsible for and whether this is a permanent commitment or limited to a specific number of years.”

“This could be done as an agreement between the ANC and the Burger King location. We could set up an automatic notification to notify the ANC (or anyone else who is monitoring) that the Burger King is not complying with its compliance. “

And if it works in the Burger King case, the ANC could look into the future using stormwater retention credits in favor of the Rock Creek watershed.

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