The D.C. Zoning Commission approved AU’s 2011 Campus Plan March 8 after nine months of hearings and nearly three years of discussions on the plan.
The plan allows the University to add 1,100 beds and provide on-campus housing for 67 percent of students by 2016, according to a March 21 memo from AU President Neil Kerwin.
Campus Plan approval included:
• Construction of East Campus (590 beds)
• Construction of North Hall (360 beds)
• Additions to Nebraska Hall (150 beds)
• Additions to Mary Graydon Center
• And the relocation of Washington College of Law to Tenley campus
The Zoning Commission will decide March 26 whether to approve construction to transform Tenley Campus into WCL.
AU can now begin construction on North Hall and additions to Nebraska Hall, which are scheduled for completion by fall 2013, The Eagle previously reported. North Hall will be located behind the President’s Office.
“The specific timetable is being worked on [for North Hall and Nebraska Hall],” Chief of Staff David Taylor said. “In general terms, we can project that both projects will start in late spring/early summer.”
East Campus will replace the current Nebraska parking lot and will house 590 students, down from the 765 beds proposed in January 2011, The Eagle previously reported.
Many AU neighbors contested the East Campus dorms because of their location on the edge of campus. However, the D.C. Zoning Commission supported the University’s attempts to reduce the size of East Campus.
“We can’t tell American University to up and locate to Jackson, Miss.,” D.C. Zoning Chairman Anthony Hood said at the March 8 meeting. “We have to be reasonable.”
Taylor said AU is happy to see the Campus Plan approved and begin work to expand the University.
“We appreciate the hard work invested and the different perspectives offered into the Campus Plan process,” he said. “The plan has evolved and been improved through the public process of community dialogue, input from public officials and city agencies and the changes we made.”
The commissioners approved the dispute resolution process AU proposed to solve any issues with the community within a month.
“This is a positive step to resolve issues at the community level,” Commissioner Michael Turnball said.
However, ANC 3D called for a more effective method to deal with disputes in a letter to the zoning commission. They also said a stricter Student Conduct Code is needed for students living off-campus.
Hood said he would like the code to be stricter as well, but stressed finding middle ground between the University and the community. He repeatedly referred to Howard University’s Campus Plan process as a model for resolving issues.
“When I’m watching this on the news 10 years from now, I don’t want this [AU and community relations] to be a failure,” Hood said. “I don’t want to be a failure.”
The commission approved a 13,600 cap on student population, including 2,000 law students, according to Kerwin’s memo.
The commission also approved the amplified sound ban for Reeves Field until a new one is installed in accordance with resident Robert Herzstein’s requests.
Hertzstein lives behind the sports field and voiced noise complaints at a meeting in October, The Eagle previously reported.
“They’re stopping [the noise],” Turnball said. “It’s not business as usual.”