Capitol Hill Restoration Society

CHRS Statement about Pacci’s Trattoria Zoning Case

Posted on March 11th, 2024

A message from CHRS President, Angie Schmidt: We know that there is a lot of concern about a zoning matter involving one of our neighborhood restaurants, Pacci’s Trattoria. CHRS is not opposed to the business of Pacci’s and wish it, and all our other neighborhood businesses, much success, as they are important members of our community. The CHRS Zoning Committee strives to be unbiased and consistent in its opinions, and its role is one of guidance and advice. 

This matter needs to be weighed carefully because if a zoning variance is granted to this property, the variance stays with the property, regardless of what type of business might be a future resident.

The CHRS Zoning Committee considered the restaurant’s request for a zoning adjustment on November 1, 2023, and voted not to support it. As is usual, the Committee sent a letter to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) with this decision. It is important to note that only the BZA can issue variances based on the revised regulations of 2016, as they are the sole legal authority on these zoning matters.

The BZA has postponed the hearing to announce their decision on BZA #20996 from March 6, 2024 to March 13, 2024, and they will have the final word, barring an appeal.

Here’s the Background Information about this Case:

The building, 106 13th Street SE, was constructed in 1912. It is located in the RF-1 zone, which is for residential use. The first floor of the building has been used as a commercial space since at least 1961. The first floor is permitted to be used as a restaurant as it has a valid Certificate of Occupancy, but the second floor and cellar level were not included in that approved Certificate of Occupancy.

In 2021, BZA #20445, Pacci’s applied for a use variance to expand from the commercial first floor to also use the cellar level and the second story for their business. The Office of Planning opposed this proposal and the CHRS Zoning Committee supported that decision. Pacci’s later amended their application to ask only to be able to use the cellar as part of the restaurant, which the BZA approved on June 9, 2021. CHRS did not weigh in again on this matter.

In 2023, BZA #20996, Pacci’s again applied for a use variance to expand from the first and cellar levels to use the second story for their business. The CHRS Zoning Committee opposed this variance because the applicant has not met the burden of proof. This means that they must show that the application of the zoning regulation would result in exceptional and undue hardship upon the owner of the property and would not cause substantial detriment to public good.

The CHRS Zoning Committee decided to oppose this variance because the second floor could reasonably be used as a residence, its original and past use. That is not an unimportant matter in our city. The property is located on a densely populated residential block on a lot with limited capacity to handle trash. The additional trash and trash removal from expanded restaurant capacity would cause substantial detriment to the neighborhood environs.