Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

District Approves 10-Year Plan

The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment voted on Tuesday to approve Georgetown’s ten-year development plan without the added conditions it had required earlier, effectively allowing the university to implement its plan as originally desired.

The most significant provision of the decision grants the university permission to increase its total undergraduate enrollment by 389 students, a university goal that had been met with heated resistance from some residents.

Additionally, the board acknowledged in its report Georgetown’s authority in setting the course of its development project and commended the university for its efforts to maintain good town-gown relations during the process.

The university hailed the decision as a major victory in the university’s push to secure its 10-year plan, one that administrators hope will finally put nearly four years of legal dispute to rest.

“The BZA’s approval of our plan is a step forward,” university spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in a statement, adding that it “enables us to move forward with plans to develop our campus as originally proposed in 2000.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson praised the decision, calling it “an affirmation we’ve proven we can manage these issues.”

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord also praised the board for its “recognition of the commitment the university has made” to its academic goals.

The District requires that every university submit a master development plan to the BZA every 10 years for approval. The board attached a number of conditions to Georgetown’s 2000 development plan at a meeting in Oct. 2001, including an enrollment cap of 5,627 students, short of the 6,016 requested by the university.

In Dec. 2003, the D.C. Court of Appeals vacated the development plan approved by the BZA, invalidating many of the conditions, including the enrollment cap. The case was remanded to the board for renewed consideration, which was delivered on Tuesday.

Several citizens’ groups had pushed for the enrollment cap, arguing that an enrollment increase would lead to more unruly student behavior off-campus.

Georgetown resident Denise Cunningham expressed frustration with the current town-gown dialogue, saying that the neighborhood was already overcrowded.

“As you know, there have been problems in the past, and if you’re going to put 389 extra bodies in a [small] area, the likelihood is that the tenor will change,” she said.

Georgetown had requested an increase in the enrollment cap because the opening of the three residence halls in the Southwest Quad in Aug. 2003 added 780 on-campus beds.

Olson said that there was no official timetable in place for phasing in Georgetown’s enrollment increase, but said that Tuesday’s decision allowed the university to begin having “thoughtful discussions” on the subject.

Even as the fate of Georgetown’s development plan remained in question in the courts, the university was able to obtain approval for several of its projects. Since the submission of the plan, the university has completed the Southwest Quadrangle and begun construction on the Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center and a multi-sport facility on Harbin Field.

“We’re already five years into the campus plan,” ANC Commissioner Brett Clements (COL ’07) said.

Olson and other administrators said that Tuesday’s decision will allow them to move ahead with the other projects that are part of the plan, including a proposed new building for the cDonough School of Business and a new science building. While they did not speculate on a precise date by which the plan would be fully implemented, they said that plans for the next decennial development plan would undoubtedly begin before the completion of the current plan.

Assistant Vice President for External Affairs Linda Greenan said that projects not completed by 2010 would most likely need to be resubmitted as part of the next plan.

Officials said that Tuesday’s decision would likely be the final one in the legal dispute. They said that the citizens’ groups might still try to reintroduce their case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, but added that it was an “outside” possibility.

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