ANC rejects Mount Vernon plan

The Palisades-Wesley Heights Advisory Neighborhood Commission encouraged the District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment to disapprove Mount Vernon campus’s 10-year plan in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

(Mount Vernon administrators) haven’t done what we’ve asked them to do, ANC Commissioner Ann Heuer said.

Heuer said the ANC had a list of 18 items it wanted changed on the campus plan, including a cap on the number of students taking classes. The ANC also wanted changes to the planned construction.

Grae Baxter, executive dean of the Mount Vernon campus, said she was not surprised by the ANC’s vote. Baxter said the campus plan is a conceptual design and said everything in the plan might not be actually implemented. She said she is willing to continue discussions with neighborhood leaders.

Heuer said Mount Vernon’s campus plan has changed since 1986. She said Mount Vernon originally planned for its buildings to be closer to the center of campus. Now Mount Vernon is planning construction closer to the perimeter of campus, she said.

Baxter said the ANC had not pursued the perimeter issue in the past and said the plan complies with zoning rules and environmental concerns.

We have basically maintained the natural topography of this campus, Baxter said.

The ANC’s new requests for the positioning of buildings would require demolishing buildings and constructing new ones on top of the soccer field, Baxter said. She also said some residents want to see all the construction done immediately, but, practically, the construction has to be phased in.

Mount Vernon’s campus plan includes improvements to the athletic fields, including the tennis courts and construction of underground parking under the tennis courts, Baxter said. The plan also includes a variety of improvements to and construction on Mount Vernon’s residence halls, including an addition to Somers Residence Hall and replacing Pelham Hall with another hall, she said.

Heuer said the plan that was shown Tuesday had some modifications, including a decrease in the size of one building and the addition of a buffer, an area that would separate the campus from the surrounding neighborhood. She said neighborhood leaders want to see a better buffer on the perimeter of the campus.

(GW’s) plan is creating a mini-city in a quiet residential neighborhood, Heuer said.

Baxter said the ANC vote is not the final say on the campus plan. She said Mount Vernon is in continuing discussions with the neighborhood and community. She said Mount Vernon has been invited back to present to the ANC.

We will review this whole thing again on (Nov. 8), Heuer said.

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