The Burleith Bell rallies our neighbors to the north against the 2010 Campus Plan: Part I


In the fight surrounding Georgetown University’s slowly but surely developing 2010 Campus Plan, there’s been nothing quiet about the Western front. By which I mean, the residents of West Georgetown have made it absolutely clear—through an open letter from community leaders to President John DeGioia, forceful showings at community meetings about the plan, and a monetary campaigns to hire experts that will testify against the Campus Plan, among many, many other things—that they are aggrieved by and intend to fight the 2010 Campus Plan tooth and nail when Georgetown files it with the Zoning Commission.

But Burleith is another story. Save for their tangentially related plans to create a database of noisy and messy student houses to use in discussions with the Metropolitan Police Department and the University, Burleith’s leadership has been a lot quieter than Georgetown’s about the impending Plan. At least, they were.

Headlining in April’s Burleith Bell, the monthly newsletter that the Burleith Citizens Association distributes to every home in the neighborhood, is an editorial letter from a BCA-led group of residents that is crafting the response to the 2010 Plan. It’s entitled “Georgetown University’s Ten-Year Plan is wrong for Burleith.” Calling on the same arguments Georgetown residents have been making about the intrusiveness of the 2010 Plan for months, the Bell officially rallies the troops.

However, the editorial is not as heavy on student-hating as other treatises on the ills of the Campus Plan have been so far. “Burleith recognizes the constructive role responsible students have played in our community,” the resident committee writes. “We are grateful to these students and the contributions they have made to all of us.” Whoa!

Although they do call out “irresponsible behavior by some University students,” the editorial blames the University more for the deteriorated neighborhood atmosphere, saying it has not educated students enough about off-campus property maintenance and noise control. It also highlights three elements of the plan the committee finds most “alarming.” [The bolding and italicizing is theirs]:

  • The University wants to add more than 3,000 graduate and professional students. If approved, this proposal would certainly impact Burleith.
  • The University has no plans to make more on-campus undergraduate housing even though the University’s own planners located sites on campus where 800 new beds could be constructed.”
  • “Construction of a new and expanded hospital on the current site.”

We’ll have more about what Burleith residents are doing in response to the 2010 Plan tomorrow.

Here’s the full text of “Georgetown University’s Ten-Year Plan is wrong for Burleith.” [The bolding and italicizing is theirs]:

“Georgetown University will soon file its 2010 Campus Plan with the DC Zoning Commission. The plan covers the next ten years’ growth for both the University and Hospital in areas such as construction, parking, traffic patterns, and staff and student numbers. In passing on that plan, the Zoning Commission must consider how Burleithians will be impacted by the proposals the University is now seeking to impose. Only once every ten years do Burleithians have an opportunity to voice our positions to the University’s plan, and now is that time.

“The DC zoning regulations state that in allowing colleges to operate in residential neighborhoods as special exceptions “the university shall be located so that it is not likely to become objectionable to neighborhood property because of noise, traffic, number of students, or other objectionable conditions.” Implicit within this law is the notion that no university has the unilateral authority to increase its enrollment to such a degree that neighboring communities are adversely impacted by disproportionately high student increases, noise, traffic, or other objectionable conditions. This regulation is not intended to disparage students, but rather to acknowledge the a community is a necessarily comprised of many diverse groups, all of which are deserving of protection. Be it young or old, families or single persons, students or non-students, or owners or renters, no single group, organization, or university should be permitted to adversely impact the other groups’ quiet enjoyment of their property.

“Burleith recognizes the constructive role responsible students have played in our community. We are grateful to these students and the contributions they have made to all of us. But we must also recognize the University’s ongoing failure provide adequate on-campus housing options or incentives for many of its students, as well as adequate instruction and support to its students living off campus about property maintenance and noise control. As a community, we cannot ignore the well-documented incidents of irresponsible behavior by some University students who have lived or currently live in Burleith. The University’s 2010 plan displays no understanding or acceptance of these realities. Indeed, the University’s plan promises to exponentially increase these same problems. As a community, we need to stand and protect out ‘Village in the City.’”

11 Comments on “The Burleith Bell rallies our neighbors to the north against the 2010 Campus Plan: Part I

  1. Let’s not use the term “Western Front” lest Jennifer Altemus begin envisioning herself as Woodrow Wilson or Winston Churchill.

  2. This is an entirely reasonable letter. Well done, Burleith.

  3. Why do we target the university for problem students making noise, but never is there any mention on self-moderation and dealing with the homeowners who continuously rent to problem students?

    I guess its easier to target the kids and the huge institution that is the reason for the “town” that is still here. Nevertheless, its encouraging that Burleith published a well rounded article.

  4. …so it IS possible to be entirely civil and tactful while still getting your point across. Quite a nice letter, really, in contrast to the lovely “fuck off” ones from West Georgetown.

  5. This is a reasonable discussion, and I’m especially glad to see the Buleith Bell acknowledges not all students are the same. (Personally, I’m continuously annoyed that though I am a good neighbor and don’t drink to excess at neighborhood parties, or leave my trash out inappropriate periods of time, etc. that students who do give all of us a bad name.) I disagree, of course, with their concerns, but they present their arguments reasonably, and seem to acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree.

    CAG, take note: you can disagree without being disagreeable.

  6. I agree that the BCA is much more civil than the residents of West Georgetown, but exactly how disruptive are students relative to the rest of the neighborhood? Obviously West Georgetown gets more foot traffic from drunk students late at night, but this isn’t as much the case in Burleith. I am a student who lived in West Georgetown last year and Burleith this year, and I can testify to this. From my experience this year, however, the students in Burleith are much tamer and quiet. In my house we are much more likely to be woken up by the crying babies next door than by rowdy revelers. Of course, we don’t take issue with the babies because 1) they’re babies, come on, and 2) that is simply something one has to accept when living in a residential neighborhood. It seems reasonable that the residents be willing to tolerate the reality of living right next to a university that has been there for over 200 years. Part of that reality is that there will be students in the area, who may be out later at night. As long as the students are not being overly loud or destroying property – which they are not by any reasonable measure, which is not the case in West Georgetown – then I don’t see why students are such a pox on the face of the neighborhood.

  7. Your use of the Burleith masthead is confusing — look as as if your story is written by the Bell.

  8. … or perhaps your confusion arises from not knowing the difference between a nameplate and a masthead.

  9. Pingback: Vox Populi » Burleith against the 2010 Campus Plan, Part 2: The monetary campaign

  10. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: To divest, or not to divest?

  11. Pingback: Vox Populi » BCA, CAG hire consultants, plan to meet with University officials

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