By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO

Public hearings were held this week at the John A. WIlson building about a bill that would allow the government to acquire a property located on W Street N.E. for warehousing and storage purposes.

Bill B23-0116 or the “Warehousing and Storage Eminent Domain Authority Act of 2019,” allows for the W Street N.E. space to be used for other purposes rather than its current use, which is a waste transfer station.

A hearing was held to discuss a bill that would give the government control of a property that currently serves as a waste transfer station on W St. N.E. (Courtesy Photo)

Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who chairs the Committee on Business and Economic Development, heard testimony from several local residents and advocates spoke about the current impact of the site now.

The Rev. Carolyn N. Graham spoke during the publication hearing saying, “We’ve been concerned about that waste management site for years now.”

“We are delighted that you have chosen to hear us today about this issue. While we can not empirically prove that the issues of cancer and asthma in our adult population in Ward 5 are directly related to the number of waste managements there. We do believe they have an impact on the quality of life there,” Graham said.

Graham asked that the site be removed stating: “It is an eyesore for the shopping and commercial development that needs to occur in that community and would be better situated somewhere else.”

“The Brentwood Civic Association’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all residents,” said Charles Jones, a resident and member of the association, during the hearing. “The location of this ‘dump’ has proven to be an environmental hazard to all property owners in Brentwood that not only adversely affects property values but impacts our health in many ways that have not been substantiated by impact studies or in other words properly addressed by the city.”

“There was poor or no plan at the time this station was selected, and would be a disgrace to any civil engineer,” Jones said.

Jones went on to complain about the persistent trash odor in the area, as well as insects, rodents and predatory birds that surround the area.

The 2019 bill was introduced to the Council in February at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser. In a letter Bowser wrote of the “Warehousing Act” saying:

“The District has significant need for warehousing and storage for equipment, records, property and supplies, and the District’s need nearly exceeds our current capacity at our owned facilities. The administration has identified property located at W Street N.E., east of Brentwood Road N.E., as a strong site for warehousing and storage purposes. Acquisition of the property will allow the District to construct and operate a warehouse facility before the District runs out of owned space for these purposes.”

The trash transfer station has long been a point of contention for the neighborhood since it first opened in the late 1980s. (The site is now privately owned by WB Solutions). In late November the Council voted to give the mayor the power of eminent domain. But local residents as well as McDuffie himself have also pushed for the closing of the privately owned site.

McDuffie proposed emergency legislation to acquire the property by eminent domain back in 2014.

In 2018, after the initial passing of the “Warehousing and Storage Eminent Domain Authority Emergency Act of 2018,” McDuffie offered a statement about the arc of this journey.

“Today marks a major milestone in our over 25-year effort to improve the quality of life for residents of Ward 5 and the Brentwood neighborhood. This action helps ensure the District has adequate storage and warehouse space, while also dramatically improving air quality for the residents of the Brentwood neighborhood,” McDuffie said.

“When I started this work six years ago, I knew that it would take time to close a facility such as this one, and I am pleased to be able to deliver on my commitment to the residents of Ward 5. I look forward to the day that residents of the Brentwood neighborhood can open their windows without the foul odor that emanates from this facility during the hot summer months.”

While several temporary measures have taken place there still needs to be a full legislation vote.