Three plans for growth approved

Three major University development plans have received their final approval from the city and now face a month-long window for potential appeals.

The appeal period for the 20-year Campus Plan and the Pelham Hall Replacement Project began Oct. 26. There is still a 35-day appeal period for each order, during which time certain community groups could bring objections to the D.C. Zoning Commission.

In mid-October, the Foggy Bottom Association unsuccessfully attempted to halt the final approval of Square 54. The group’s leadership said they wanted the Campus Plan and Square 54 plans to be approved at the same time, so as to properly gauge the full environmental impact of the projects.

Con Hitchcock, an attorney for the Foggy Bottom Association, said looking at the two projects separately was like reviewing a 30-mile highway in 10-mile segments.

“You need to consider the totality of the environmental problem,” Hitchcock said, warning that otherwise assessments could be otherwise misleading.

Although the FBA’s motion was denied, Hitchcock said they will object to the construction again at some point in the future.

The new construction’s environmental impact is measured by a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) score, which can be boosted through extra amenities such as providing alternative transportation and recycling building materials. The University’s application for the Square 54 construction has not yet received a score but must receive at least a 29 out of 79 points to receive LEED certification.

Because Square 54 and the Campus Plan are Planned Urban Developments, they can exceed the height and density limitations of the area – as long as they include projects that benefit the community.

In order to receive PUD status, the University agreed to build a 42,000 square foot grocery store into the Square 54 building, retail space in the I Street corridor and affordable housing, among other conditions. The zoning commission also maintained the cap on the total number of students on the Foggy Bottom Campus at 20,000, and the number of full-time students at 16,553.

Although construction companies may now begin to apply for building permits the University does not expect actual construction to begin on Square 54 until mid-2008.

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