AppleTree Charter School, 138 12th Street, NE
The charter school proposed to be sited in a residential rowhouse block just north of Lincoln Park is still before the courts and DC regulatory agencies. A permit was issued to AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation (AppleTree) by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in late October of 2007.
The permit was under a hold by the Director of DCRA for both zoning concerns and for review by the District Department of the Environment (DDoE) when it was suddenly issued by a low-level staffer.
DCRA promptly moved to revoke the permit, and AppleTree filed with the District’s Office of Administrative Hearings to contest the revocation. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A, where the proposed site is located, filed successfully for intervenor status to seek to sustain the revocation and to investigate the circumstances of the permit’s issuance.
In 2006 and 2007, the city’s Zoning Commission and Office of Planning developed language to prohibit the location of public schools in R-4 (basically rowhouse) neighborhoods unless they meet minimum standards for streetfront footage, lot size, and parking. These new regulations were adopted and became effective in September of 2007. After the new regulation was adopted, the Board of Zoning Adjustment found the new language insufficient to avoid the “grandfathering” clause that protects structures built before 1958 from needing to comply with current regulations, and overturned the decision of the then-Zoning Administrator to deny AppleTree a permit. In reply, the Zoning Commission adopted new language to make clear that a change of use of a property in the R-4 districts would remove the grandfathering protection.
Currently DCRA and AppleTree, after subsequent DDoE agreement that there is no environmental risk on the site and DCRA completion of final zoning review, reached a mutual accommodation that would have declared the administrative proceeding moot, overturned the revocation, and conditionally promise a certificate of occupancy. AppleTree in return agreed not to sue the city or its officials. ANC 6A sought to invalidate the agreement since it had not been consulted despite its intervenor status and for other reasons. On May 29, the Administrative Hearing Judge dismissed AppleTree’s appeal as moot as a result of AppleTree and DCRA agreement.
In December 2007, following AppleTree’s appeal of the permit revocation, ANC 6A filed an appeal of the permit. A hearing will be held in early June, with the ANC continuing to assert that the permit was erroneously issued.
The Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on January 9, 2007, sustained AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation’s (AppleTree) appeal of the April 28, 2006, ruling of the Zoning Administrator. AppleTree purchased 138 12th Street in 2005 with the intention of housing a charter school of some 70 students at this R-4 zoned property. In February of 2006, the Zoning Commission (ZC) adopted emergency regulations regarding public schools and charter schools that would require AppleTree to apply for a special exception before development of the property as a school.
Despite the new regulations, AppleTree applied for a building permit, and the application was denied by the Zoning Administrator, who found that AppleTree did not meet the requirements for lot area, lot width, and number of parking spaces. AppleTree appealed the findings of the Zoning Administrator and, after a hearing, prevailed. The BZA found that AppleTree did not have to apply for a special exception.
The adverse ruling has not been put in writing and published
in the DC Register, as is required to become a final order. The
Advisory Neighborhood Commission, CHRS, and the neighbors opposed the
appeal. The community is currently exploring options. The BZA ruling
has citywide implications, and would allow charter schools to locate
anywhere in residential areas.
© Copyright 2001-2009, Capitol Hill Restoration Society. All rights reserved. Last updated January 8, 2009.
Website hosted by DC Access.