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Comcast's 'Small Refrigerator-sized' Boxes Draw Georgetown's Ire

Comcast utility boxes recently sprang up on Georgetown street corners.

Comcast's new green utility boxes "are sprouting like weeds" on Georgetown sidewalks and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission is none too happy.

"This business is coming into our community and just making an aestheitic wreck of what we try to preserve in the historic district," said Commissioner Tom Birch who lives near several of Comcast's "small refrigerator-sized green boxes."

Birch said the process has made him "livid" because not only were the boxes not reviewed by the ANC for design, but the construction hours have been "flat out illegal" at times by his estimation. Birch said he has heard work at 5:30 a.m. and even at 10:30 p.m. on a weekend night.

One neighbor said the "icebox-"sized installments appeared without notice, even though it sits directly in front of his home.

Though the ANC has attempted to contact the company about these concerns, Commissioner Ron Lewis said Comcast has been "unapproachable," not responding to phone calls or emails.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) issues public space permits for utility work. Matthew Marcou, deputy associate director of DDOT's Public Space Regulation Administration, told Patch that he is going to review the applications to make sure his agency followed the appropriate process.

He plans to review Comcast's paperwork to see what the ulitity prorpsed in its application and to determine what review processes were triggered, or not, and why.

"We appreciate [the ANC's] very careful and immediate concern about what’s going on with the public space," he said.

Marcou said a resident first brought the issue to his attention and he later heard from the ANC. He said DDOT already sent out an inspector to examine one of the boxes and that he has given orders for his team to provide an update to the ANC by the end of the week.

DDOT will continue to work with the ANC on the green boxes issue and Marcou said he plans to work with the Commission of Fine Arts and the Old Georgetown Board to "discuss the broader point of future of utility work."

Though Marcou was hesitant to find fault without having reviewed the permit application, the ANC said they were confident that DDOT would help resolve the situation.

"DDOT is prepared to contact Comcast in a way that Comcast cannot ignore," said Lewis.

Have you noticed the green boxes on the sidewalk?

Maggie November 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
These Comcast boxes are similar to the boxes used by Pepco (?) for some time. You can see an example on the sidewalk in front of 3039 Q St. I noticed it a few weekends ago because the door was wide open, heavy cables spilling out and buzzing like power plant. I have a picture if you're interested.
Shaun Courtney November 05, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Sure, Maggie. Send it along to shaun@patch.com. I believe the ANC has worked with PEPCO to try to bring their boxes into compliance with historic preservation standards. Your Q Street example may pre-date those efforts. -S
Rick November 08, 2012 at 01:18 AM
The best way of citizens to tell Comcast that this was an offense to their historic district is to take action and dismantle/remove the boxes themselves. Then just repair the sidewalks and call Comcast to come and get their equipment. Risking jail time is necessary in cases like these.

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