By Jon Banister, Bisnow Washington, D.C., October 8, 2019
The ongoing process to amend D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan received a key approval vote Tuesday after Council Chairman Phil Mendelson removed language that had caused concerns among planners and housing advocates.
The D.C. Council unanimously passed the final vote of the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s Framework Element, 21 months after the Office of Planning first introduced its proposed changes.
Mendelson postponed the vote last month after Planning Director Andrew Trueblood sent a letter raising significant concerns over language he said could lead to more development becoming stuck in litigation. The Office of Planning, in the amendments it introduced in January 2018, had sought to create more clarity around the process to alleviate the appeals that have delayed dozens of developments throughout D.C.
Following the delay, Mendelson removed the language from the plan that added new requirements for the Zoning Commission to consider when evaluating PUDs. Coalition for Smarter Growth Policy Director Cheryl Cort, who had also raised concerns about that section, said she is pleased with the revisions the chairman made ahead of the vote.
“He was very responsive to our concerns and many of the concerns that were expressed by the business community,” Cort said. “He revised it in the ways that we had asked him to do, and he was very considerate and thoughtful and has provided language that is going to work.”
Cozen O’Connor’s Meridith Moldenhauer, a land-use attorney who has worked on development appeal cases, also said the earlier draft could have made the process more challenging. But she said the latest draft alleviates her concerns. “The way the section is now rewritten, we do feel the language parallels more the recent court cases and the way the Zoning Commission has been balancing the various section of the Comprehensive Plan,” Moldenhauer said.
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