WASHINGTON — A D.C. man is fighting to keep his Autobots assembled outside his Georgetown home after being told that his Transformers statues don't match the neighborhood's aesthetic.
On Thursday, he received some prime support in his quest.
Dr. Newton Howard, a billionaire brain scientist and the owner of the statues, was joined by Peter Cullen, who voices Optimus Prime, and Dan Gilvezan, who voices Bumblebee for D.C.'s monthly Public Safety Committee meeting to discuss the status of the statues in the community. The two voice actors supported Howard's stance on keeping the statues up in the neighborhood.
“I understand that some people think these statues don’t fit the character of the neighborhood, that they stand out like a sore thumb," Gilvezan said. "First I resent being compared to a sore thumb. A healthy well-functioning thumb - maybe. But a sore thumb - never."
On any given day, there is a constant flow of visitors to take photos of the gigantic statues. However many of Howard's direct neighbors have been less pleased with the sculptures.
WUSA9 previously reported that six of his neighbors, including the five which sit next to his home, penned a letter in March 2021 to the Old Georgetown Board, complaining about the statues.
"It is clear that 'transformer robot' structures sitting on planters are clearly inconsistent with the goal to preserve the historic nature of Georgetown," the letter read. "By themselves, and despite the character of our historic street, these structures change the nature, and therefore, the value of all of the homes on the 3600 block of Prospect Street, NW."
According to a spokesperson for the Commission of Fine Arts, which oversees the advisory group, the Old Georgetown Board gave the green light in 2021 for a six-month installation. However, that six-month permit has long since expired, and the statues are still up.
Tracy Themak, an attorney hired for some concerned neighbors, says that while the statues appear harmless, there’s more than meets the eye.
“These are some of the pictures of the crowding, the trash, the motorcycle gangs that go through, the blocking of the sidewalk," Themak said Thursday. "There’s clear demonstration that this interferes with the traffic and pedestrian."
Paul Strauss, the attorney representing Howard, argued in rebuttal that the Transformers do not pose a threat to the community.
“They do not endanger the public," he said. "If anything the Transformers have a long and glorious record of protecting the citizens of Earth against the deceptacons."
Despite continued efforts, the DC Public Safety Committee decided the Transformers statues should be removed. However, Howard told WUSA9 that he plans to keep fighting and will take this case to court if needed.