Campus plan vote delayed

The Board of Zoning Adjustment delayed a vote on GW’s campus plan for a second time Wednesday to decide whether GW can follow through with promises for on-campus housing and parking, a BZA official said.

“(BZA members) want to make sure that the commitments that are being made are actually being followed through,” said Sheri Pruitt, secretary of the BZA.

The board delayed the vote until Feb. 13 to review a high volume of new testimony and information from GW, neighborhood groups and the mayor’s Office of Planning submitted Jan. 23.

“It was a whole other batch of stuff to read and digest,” Pruitt said. “It’s a complicated plan. It is unlike any other plan in the city.”

Pruitt said BZA members are concerned that GW’s plan to build more housing using revenue from future uses of the current GW Hospital will fail. Georgetown University tried a similar plan in its 1991 campus plan, Pruitt said.

If GW’s request to turn the hospital into a commercial site is rejected, the University may not have the money to build more housing. Georgetown’s 1991 plan failed because the Environmental Protection Agency refused a proposal to construct a generator the university could contract out to companies, Pruitt said.

“The University in the plan states that they would like to house 70 percent of students on campus,” Pruitt said. “The question lies in how soon you will get there (and) how you will get there.”

Parking is the other point of contention prolonging the process months past the original deadline. BZA members worry that GW will not provide the promised 2,300 parking spaces on campus and at the Kennedy Center, Pruitt said.

Members could ask GW to adopt an undergraduate enrollment cap, but members have not discussed the issue at length, Pruitt said.

Board members addressed similar concerns in a Dec. 12 meeting, the original date of the campus plan vote. During the December hearing, Foggy Bottom Association President Michael Thomas called the University’s language vague, especially in the plan’s outline for uses of the current hospital site.

In December BZA members asked GW to clarify its uses of the hospital, plans to provide parking on campus and how it would meet promises to add 1,350 new on-campus beds in five years.

BZA members will likely vote to pass or reject the plan with suggested changes next Wednesday, without hammering out details such as housing and parking numbers, Pruitt said.

The board is taking more time on GW’s plan than on other plans such as Georgetown’s, because the GW lies in a volatile community that mixes residential life with businesses, Pruitt said.

“The neighborhood is in a real fragile state,” said Pruitt, adding that neighbors feel they are getting squeezed out of the community by the growing University.

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