University neighbors form coalition

A group of neighbors in Foggy Bottom announced the creation of a coalition dedicated to improving D.C. colleges’ relationships with universities,.

The District-wide Coalition of University Neighbors will serve as a centralized base for neighbors who oppose the growth of large institutions, which they believe diminish the quality of life in their neighborhood.

The relationship between GW and its Foggy Bottom neighbors has been historically sour, with neighbors complaining that the University does not factor local residents into its development plans.

The group’s inception comes at a time when GW has multiple large development projects in the works, including the Science and Engineering Complex, which has seen opposition from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission – a local body that votes on community issues.

GW alumnus Asher Corson, who is active within the Foggy Bottom Association and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, serves as the group’s Foggy Bottom representative.

The seven-member coalition includes representatives from GW, American University, Georgetown University, Catholic University and Howard University.

Corson said not one event or university could be attributed to the group’s formation, but rather “multiple campus plans happening at the same time across the city” collectively sparked the group’s inception.

Jacqueline Meers, the American University representative, is the group’s organizing chair.?

Corson said the group plans to be involved in community government, including zoning matters, with a main goal of recognizing “the need of historic neighborhoods fighting on their own.”

GW’s “unfettered growth” has diminished the quality of life for local residents, he said.

“We don’t view ourselves as opposing students, but as protecting neighbors,” Corson said. He added that he believes Foggy Bottom has “been particularly impacted more so than others.”

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said GW is willing to include neighbors in its campus planning process, as it has in years past to reach compromises. She cited the University’s 2007 Campus Plan as a prime example of cooperation.

“We fully support working with our neighbors to create mutually beneficial living and learning communities, and we look forward to working with any and all groups dedicated to this mission,” Sherrard said.

Corson said GW’s campus plan serves as a precedent for aggressive campus development plans the new coalition hopes to avert. He said, while he appreciates the efforts of University officials to mitigate issues with neighbors through communication, he disagrees with GW’s expansionist policies.

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