ANC meeting brings disagreements about fences and history

The meeting began with a discussion about how a new, 8-story apartment building would ruin the views of the homeowners surrounding 2122 14th Street NW.

Members of the neighborhood voiced their grievances stating that the builders were given the exception unfairly.

They ultimately conceded when a member of the board stated that the buildings they all lived in were, in fact, granted the same exception.

The meeting continued with a debate about the historical importance of a LeDroit Park homeowners’ fence.

During the meeting, a woman named Andrea Feniak stood up and argued with the homeowner about how the fence disrupted the aesthetic integrity of the historic neighborhood.

On the 400 block of U St NW, a homeowner proposed the construction of a six-foot-tall fence on her property according to Feniak.

“They (the houses) have low metal fences; you don’t get privacy. These folks just bought that corner house for more money than I will ever know in my entire life and I think they didn’t do their research and they want to put a privacy fence 6 foot high basically shutting out the community, changing the face of the enclave,” Feniak said.

In her opinion, a 6-foot tall fence is reminiscent of a time where members of that community would construct tall fences to keep the surrounding area, which included Howard University students, out.

She cited Civil Rights era icon Reverend Jesse Jackson’s house on 4th and T Streets NW as an example stating that he achieves privacy with a more “portable” fence.

“When he’s in town he sits on the porch, waves and waits for people to talk to him,” she added.

“This is an architectural gem … LeDroit Park is a historic district,” she said.

She went on to explain how if the property owners were to construct the fence, it would encourage others to do the same.

“It’s keeping a piece of history intact, how it was.”

She said when she made renovations, she had to comply with the visual regulations of the historic enclave. Feniak noted that the mortar sealing her bricks were regulated to preserve the neighborhoods visual integrity.

Not everyone in the neighborhood shares Feniaks opinion.

Richard Myers, a retired Howard University dental facilities manager, has “mixed emotions” about the fence. 

“Five feet from the sidewalk is a compromise, but what they want to do is have a fence twelve feet from the sidewalk which cuts their backyard in half.”

He went on to say that if they would’ve rejected the entire notion of the fence he’d be all for it but to cut someone’s backyard in half is “crazy.”

As the fence rises, so do the walls of communication.