D.C. Zoning Commission continues disputes over AU Campus Plan

D.C. Zoning Commission continues disputes over AU Campus Plan
The map above shows the most-recent AU East Campus plan.

Correction Appended

Noise and traffic were again the focus of the second D.C. Zoning Commission hearing on the AU Campus Plan June 23.

Neighbor groups near campus cross-examined seven AU representatives, questioning them on the proposed East Campus, the law school’s proposed move to Tenley Campus and noise from outdoor sports events.

Laurie Horvitz, a representative for Westover Place Homes Corporation and Neighbors for a Livable Community, kicked off the questioning, focusing on East Campus noise, light and student conduct.

Horvitz asked the AU representatives — who included Chief of Staff David Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Facilities Development and Real Estate Jorge Abud and members of the traffic consulting firm Gorove / Slade Associates — if they would submit a lighting plan to determine whether light from the proposed East Campus dorms would affect Westover Place residents.

Horvitz also asked if AU would be willing to prohibit amplified sound events on East Campus and consider establishing Public Safety patrols inside the dorms to limit student noise and misconduct.

Public Safety currently patrols outside residence halls unless, for example, a resident assistant calls them inside.

A representative for Spring Valley and Wesley Heights then asked AU about North Hall, “problem student housing,” and implementing a population cap, which AU has proposed to be 13,600 students.

The discussion of “problem student housing” included a house of Pi Kappa Alpha brothers on Yuma Street and alleged noisiness in the area.

David Wilson, a Yuma Street resident representing the Tenley Campus Neighbors Association, then questioned the AU representatives about the Washington College of Law’s proposed move to Tenley Campus.

Wilson steadily grilled the AU representatives on the proposed WCL parking garage, traffic and economic development in the area, a moratorium to preserve green space on Tenley and student parking violations.

Sometime after 9:30 p.m., three hours into the hearing, Zoning Commission Chairman Anthony Hood asked Wilson how many more questions he was going to ask.

“A couple dozen,” Wilson replied.

Turning to student parking violations, Wilson asked Abud how many tickets had been issued to students parking on residential streets surrounding the current WCL campus.

About 600 in the past year, Abud replied.

Throughout Wilson’s questioning, neighbors in the about 100-person crowd — the majority of them senior citizens — murmured, “He’s good!”

At 10:06 p.m., Robert Herzstein, who lives behind the Jacobs and Reeves athletic fields, questioned AU on noise coming from speakers and rock music during daytime sports events.

AU does not have lights on the fields and does not hold nighttime games.

Taylor asserted that the University had been working with Herzstein for years to maintain a satisfactory decibel level, and that Herzstein was the only one who complained of the noise level.

When the hearing pushed closer to 11 p.m., Chairman Hood asked the other commissioners if they would mind continuing the neighbors’ cross-examination at the next hearing. No one dissented and the hearing adjourned at 10:56 p.m.

The next hearing on July 14 will begin at 6:30 p.m. with questions from the last neighborhood group. All hearings are held at the D.C. Office of Zoning, 441 4th St. NW.

landerson@theeagleonline.com

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