Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, January 23, 2018

D.C. Zoning delays Campus Plan decision again

The D.C. Zoning Commission again delayed a decision on the AU Campus Plan, although the commissioners seem closer to reaching a verdict.

“The delay tightens the timeline, but if the plan is approved we will proceed with haste to get the initial housing built and hit the timeline,” AU Chief of Staff David Taylor said in an email.

AU aims to complete North Hall and the Nebraska Hall addition by fall 2013.

Commissioners discussed a variety of issues surrounding the additional information AU submitted to the commission since the Jan. 23 hearing. The Feb. 16 hearing was the shortest yet, lasting about two hours.

The commissioners discussed whether they should limit AU’s ability to rent out buildings like the Berkshire Apartments. “I didn’t hear testimony that the University’s management of that [Berks] was a problem,” Commissioner Peter May said. “If the University needs to do a master lease for apartments, I wouldn’t want to deny them the right to do that.”

The commission debated whether leased apartments like the Berks should count in the number of students the University houses “on campus.” AU aims to house 67 percent of undergraduates on campus by fall 2016.

Commissioner May said he did not see a reason to challenge the Department of Transportation’s decision that the Campus Plan would not pose traffic problems for the neighborhood. Neighbors have said the plan would worsen traffic. “I don’t feel like I’m the one to decide that any of the parties can know the issue better than traffic consultants,” May said.

Commission Chairman Anthony Hood said the University had not sufficiently worked with the neighbors, saying “For me, that’s a show-stopper.” Taylor said AU would work to strengthen the neighborhood liaison committee “to gather for information sharing, reporting out, updating and attempting to work out ‘solutions’ before issues become ‘problems.’”

The commissioners discussed the proposed landscaping on East Campus and AU’s agreement to change some of the buildings’ exteriors from limestone to brick at the neighbors’ request.

Hood said he wanted AU to address the ongoing noise complaints from a neighbor who says the noise from the Reeves and Jacobs Fields is unbearable. “I want to make sure this issue is resolved because this is an issue that has been around since 2001,” Hood said. Taylor said AU would work on an appropriate remedy for the fields’ noise.

At the next hearing in March, the commissioners may reach a decision.

landerson@theeagleonline.com


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