FBA files suit against six city agencies

The Foggy Bottom Association filed a lawsuit Monday against six city agencies in an effort to stop them from allowing GW to pursue development on two sites on campus.

GW’s newly proposed Campus Plan, which is being considered by the city, outlines development through 2025. It includes a dormitory project on land acquired through the School Without Walls settlement and mixed-use development on Square 54, the empty lot across from the Foggy Bottom Metro. Community activists have been seeking to halt both projects.

The FBA is suing D.C.’s Zoning Commission, Office of Planning, Public Schools, Historic Preservation Review Board, Department of Health, and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for allegedly illegally dealing with GW while the University is allegedly out of compliance with the Campus Plan.

The FBA claims in the suit that GW is out of compliance with the current plan – an agreement between the University and the community that outlines development and is set to expire in 2009 – because it is over the 20,000-person enrollment cap.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C., was followed by an injunction request the FBA filed Tuesday, asking that all action on development of the sites stop.

FBA President Joy Howell added that because GW’s Campus Plan has been ruled enforceable law by the courts, the four D.C. agencies are breaking the law by dealing with GW.

“(GW) should not be putting forth any applications and no applications should be granted,” Howell said, referring to development applications GW has already filed with the city along with the newly proposed Campus Plan.

The FBA announced last week at a news conference that it would file suit Friday but waited until Monday because last Thursday’s Zoning Commission meeting altered its schedule at the last minute.

University Media Relations Director Tracy Schario said she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit’s effects for passing the Campus Plan because she had not yet received a copy of it. The University has maintained in the past that it is within the enrollment camp because students at Mount Vernon and Virginia campuses should not be included in the figure.

“We’ve had a very open planning process and the Foggy Bottom Association chose not to participate in that,” Schario said.

The Office of Planning, Office of Zoning and Board of Education were unable to give a comment on the lawsuit by press time.

Howell also attended the Student Association Senate’s final meeting of the year Tuesday night to petition for support from students on her organization’s crusade against GW and the city.

Howell and the FBA hope to foster a relationship with students and continue to meet with members of the SA to discuss their concerns.

“We would love to work with you guys to get a better education,” Howell said at the meeting. “The University would like to put us against you guys.”

Members of the Senate had mixed reactions to Howell’s presentation. Sophomore Marc Abanto (CCAS-U) said he is in support of working with the FBA in the future.

“I would love the opportunity to meet with her,” he said. “It would be unfair to go into next year without looking at both sides of the issue.”

Outgoing SA President Audai Shakour, however, expressed displeasure with Howell.

“I don’t agree with a lot of the things she said,” Shakour, a senior, said. “(The FBA) is losing credibility with the University.”

Howell said, “We are not suing GW, we are suing the city asking them to enforce the law … GW is not beyond the law.”

-Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.

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