Last night, I joined community leaders and residents at the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) to testify against two proposed air quality permits to operate auto body paint spray booths in Ward 5’s Brookland and Woodridge neighborhoods. The first permit, #6963, to T&W Auto Company, Inc., is to locate at 1736 Rhode Island Avenue, NE, and the second, #6962, to SMART Automotive, is to locate at 2615 Evarts Street, NE.
As I mentioned in my testimony, I have submitted seven letters opposing the issuance of paint spray booth permits in Ward 5 since taking office in 2012. In the letters, I speak to the environmental and health effects of the volatile organic compounds emitted by paint spray booths. Air quality has been a major policy focus of mine. I have successfully authored two laws, the “Air Quality Amendment Act of 2014” and the “Solid Waste Facility Permit Amendment Act of 2014”, in an effort to improve air quality for Ward 5 residents through the enhanced enforcement of existing laws, particularly with regard to emissions from industrial businesses. Even with our efforts through the legislative process, violators consider paying the new fines as part of the cost of doing business. This is why I am opposing the permit applications for these two businesses.
I am very concerned about the consequential effects of adding any additional spray booths to our ward. These businesses operate without the proper buffers, and given their proximity to residences, negatively impact the quality of air, water, and soil. Equally disturbing, the clustering of these types of businesses creates an unknown harm to associated neighborhoods with unidentified long-term effects. We all recognize the need for industrial-zoned businesses to sustain the development of our growing city; however, we must seek a balanced approach that does not jeopardize the safety of our residents who are most impacted by the location of these businesses.
I want to thank DDOE for its diligence in responding to residents’ complaints and citing bad actors. Above all, I want to recognize and give special thanks to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Debbie Smith-Steiner, Nolan Treadway, Walter Deleon, and Michael Morrison, Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association President Tom Bridge, Woodridge South Civic Association President Carlos Davis, and all of the residents who came out to testify against the proposed permits.
Although we have laws on the books to address environmental nuisances, we must remain vigilant when similar cases arise. I look forward to working with you to improve the quality of life for every neighborhood in Ward 5 and across the District of Columbia.
Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Ward 5
Chairman Pro Tempore
Chair, Committee on the Judiciary
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 506
Washington, DC 20004