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

Commission Blocks Zoning Requests

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The university was unable to garner approval for ongoing housing projects from the D.C. Zoning Commission at a public hearing held Monday evening.

The changes would have allowed for slight modifications in the description of the Northeast Triangle Residence Hall and the transformation of Ryan and Mulledy Halls into student residences, before they received approval from the Old Georgetown Board.

“If you were able to get basic concept approval [from the Old Georgetown Board] on location and massing, then I think it would be sufficient for us to go ahead with the flexibility needed to proceed,” Peter May, the National Park Service designee on the Zoning Commission, told university administrators during Monday’s hearing.

David Avitabile, an attorney for the university, requested flexibility to modify plans for the Northeast Triangle in order to allow for minor changes to the height, density or location of the building in accordance with the requests of the OGB.

“We’re optimistic that [the OGB] will support the proposal, but if we do need to make further changes, we ask that we do not have to return to the commission for further approval,” Avitable said.

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, the outcome of the hearing was neither a surprise nor a setback for the university.

“It’s not bad news. It’s expected news,” Olson said.

The next step for the university will be to meet with the OGB on December 5 to discuss planning and site-selection in addition to the architecture of the Northeast Triangle, which, according to Vice President for Planning and Facilities Robin Morey, the board has not looked at since the original design was submitted in July.

“We believe they’ll start engaging in the architecture and give us feedback. We’ll take that feedback and tweak the design a little bit … and then go back in January,” Morey said.

Morey said that he does not anticipate getting approval from the OGB next week.

“I would hope that we could get approval in January but I would not necessarily expect it in December. That would not be a setback,” Morey said.

Although the commission did not approve the university’s requested zoning changes, commission members were supportive of Georgetown’s progress with the 2010 Campus Plan agreement and its plans for moving forward.

“I want to support [the university’s plans] at the appropriate time,” Anthony Hood, chairman of the Zoning Commission, said.

Olson said that he saw this display of support from the commission as being more significant than their lack of approval.

“This is very heartening news for all of us. It means we have broad support moving forward in both the Northeast Triangle and the Ryan and Mulledy renovation,” Olson said.

Ron Lewis, chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, said that ANC 2E, along with other community stakeholders, are in support of the university’s applications for additional on-campus housing.

Lewis spoke positively about the university’s collaboration with the neighborhood in the implementation of the campus plan agreement including cooperation between the university and the community in the physical planning of housing, the implementation of new policies to incentivize on-campus social life, and the emphasis of good neighbor responsibility as part of New Student Orientation. 

“We’ve created a genuine, robust, real partnership, where each participant can look at issues from everyone’s perspective, not just their own,” Lewis said.

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