Zoning hearings extended

The D.C. Zoning Commission tentatively scheduled another hearing for the 20-year Campus Plan Thursday in order to hear testimony on GW’s enrollment numbers.

Zoning Commission Chair Carol Mitten said the date may change from Oct. 11 if it conflicts with the schedule of D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Bill Crews. The additional hearing is the Zoning Commission’s response to requests from the Foggy Bottom Association and the Foggy Bottom/West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission to question the DCRA enrollment audit released Sept. 18.

The audit, conducted through DCRA by an independent firm, found that GW was in compliance with the current campus plan’s enrollment requirements.

The FBA and the ANC have been very critical of DCRA’s results, saying Crews should have been harder on GW for excluding certain categories, such as Mount Vernon residents.

Thursday’s hearing was an opportunity for opponents of the 20-year Campus Plan to voice their concerns. Those who testified against GW development argued that Foggy Bottom cannot support the congestion, noise and pollution the plan’s construction would cause.

The 20-year Campus Plan asks for increased floor space at the center of campus in exchange for removing GW property on the edges of campus from possible construction sites. Although the current agreement between the University and Foggy Bottom residents does not expire until 2010, administrators have been working on a more comprehensive plan to last until 2025.

Joy Howell, president of the FBA, argued that the Zoning Commission should allow the current Campus Plan to run its course before discussing a new proposal.

Howell said the University is out of compliance with the student enrollment cap of the 2000 Campus Plan because Mount Vernon residents, among other special categories of students, are not counted. She said students who use facilities on the Foggy Bottom campus should be counted.

“The concept of the 2000 plan was good, but GW has turned 24,000 students into 19,000 students,” she said.

Neighborhood activist Vince Micone testified against the proposed campus development, saying he was mainly concerned with congestion in the Foggy Bottom community.

“Reasonable people can see that this land will be developed, but to what extent?” said Micone, who is the chair of the ANC.

Howell criticized the University for wanting to expand its science centers in Foggy Bottom rather than other areas of the city. Zoning Commissioner Anthony Hood asked Howell where exactly GW should place another remote campus.

“Why not put a cancer center in Anacostia?” Howell answered. “Why can’t the University use its wealth to spur development in underdeveloped areas?”

Hood asked Howell other hypothetical questions to get a better picture of the FBA’s stance, including whether the FBA would like GW’s trash dump to be moved to Foggy Bottom because those living next to it disliked it.

During cross-examination, Howell addressed why GW officials have been barred from attending FBA meetings.

“We were forced to do this because the meetings before had been interrupted by University staff,” Howell said.

Other residents who testified complained of being woken up late at night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays by GW students. Complaints included vandalism, theft, drug dealing, public urination and vomit, condoms and underwear on the sidewalks.

Ellie Becker, a Foggy Bottom resident since 1967, said students are disrespectful to the older residents in the neighborhood.

“It saddens me to see Foggy Bottom residents move out because of a University with students who do not know how to behave,” Becker said.

Former ANC Chair Elizabeth Elliot described Foggy Bottom as “under siege.” She complained about loud student party-goers, boisterous crowds at basketball games and crowded sidewalks.

“It is too soon to move on to the next Campus Plan when the current one is not implemented,” Elliot said.

Thirty-five students attended the hearing to support GW, although only opponents to the new plan were allowed to testify at this meeting.

Matthew Lindsay, assistant director of Media Relations, attended the meeting Thursday and said many of the residents’ complaints had been heard before.

“The University has done a lot to make sure residents have input,” Lindsay said. “We do hear what residents are saying and have worked to rectify them.”

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