The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment began hearing testimony from GW Wednesday concerning the renewal of the Foggy Bottom Campus Plan for the years 2000-2010.
In its presentation to the board, the University assured the BZA that it would require all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus and would house 60 percent of its student population on campus.
The University for the first time has agreed to require freshmen and sophomores to live on campus, said Charles Barber, University senior counsel. We selected them because of their relative youth and immaturity. We felt they were the most in need of our guidance in on-campus housing.
A campus plan is required of all universities located in a residential area within the District, said Maureen Dwyer, the attorney representing GW before the BZA. The plan includes boundaries of University property, uses of that property and student housing issues.
The current campus plan was approved in 1985 until Dec. 31, 2000, Dwyer said. She described the plan as a policy statement or concept of where the University is going in the next 10 years.
Several residents of the Foggy Bottom area were present to oppose the plan’s approval, represented chiefly by Michael Thomas, vice president of the Foggy Bottom Association.
To begin testimony, Dwyer outlined the reasons for the plan’s approval.
This campus plan does address the University’s impact on surrounding communities, she said.
Several witnesses testified on behalf of GW. Barber said under the new plan, GW would attempt to address student behavior off campus, work with the management of local residential buildings and increase the amount of on-campus housing within the next decade.
Barber also said a requirement of 60 percent of the student body housed in on-campus facilities was included in the plan.
We can only increase the number of students by increasing the amount of housing, that’s the beauty of it, he said. The University would effectively check the growth of the student population.
Architectural witnesses Coke Florance and Charlotte Kosmela then reviewed the additional specifics of the plan. Kosmela said the new plan would not change the BZA-approved boundaries, increase approved enrollment or population caps, or create any major changes to current land usage. She said a 28 percent increase, from 4,469 to 5,746, in the number of beds provided by campus housing was included, and stressed the attempts of GW to encourage students to congregate within its boundaries by providing areas such as the Mid-Campus Quad.
We have worked very hard to create streetscape improvements to the benefit of the University, and to the benefit of the community, Florance said.
Four students also testified for GW. Senior Alan Elias, president of the GW Residence Hall Association, said GW currently houses 5,000 students in 23 buildings on campus. Elias also mentioned community service that the RHA currently provides, including a grocery delivery service to elderly residents of St. Mary’s Court.
I believe that, in creating this plan, the University has combined the best interests of the students, faculty and residents of the Foggy Bottom community, he said.
Cross examination of University witnesses, as well as opposition to the plan presented by several area resident groups, will continue at a future hearing May 24.