Tomorrow is the culmination of the approval process for Georgetown’s 2010-2020 campus plan. Or, at least it’s supposed to be the finale, but there is a good chance the plan will be dragged to court by one party of another like during the 2000-2010 approval process. Basically we are certain that the seventh zoning commission hearing is happening tomorrow. Here’s Vox‘s predictions of how it will go down:
The university will play the good-neighbor card
Vox predicts that the university’s tactics will be three-fold. First the university will flaunt its eleventh hour initiatives in front of the zoning commission. The university has been performing its look-how-much-we-care-about-our-neighbors’-well-being dance directly for the benefit of the zoning commission because God knows the community won’t be won over. This might not be the university’s primary argument, but it will get a mention. Now there is the possibility that the zoning commission will question the university’s motives on the eleventh hour initiatives, but that won’t go beyond speculation (and Vox doubts Chairman Anthony Hood will tolerate that).
The second organization the university aims to impress (and already did impress) is the District Department of Transportation. In their June filing, DDOT opted to not support the campus plan for various issues including an incomplete traffic report. DDOT made a series of recommendations, including the M Street Shuttle, to which the university acquiesced. And it worked. Earlier this month, DDOT filed again, rescinding their opposition on certain conditions (that the university continue to provide data on traffic patterns, basically). DDOT seeing no objection is a serious win for the university, and Maureen Dwyer, Georgetown’s lawyer, will undoubtedly bring this up.
Third, the university will try to put a muzzle on the neighbors to keep them from yapping. The university filed a request to have the community groups/ANC’s recent filings be dismissed on the grounds that, in June, the commission closed the record to everything not regarding transportation. The neighbors disagreed with the university’s interpretation of the closing of the record in a rebuttal filing. This should play out early on in the proceeding. If the neighbors are allowed to testify, the university will most likely try to discredit them with some conflicting evidence. For instance, Rocky’s reports contradicts one of the neighbor’s testimonies about the number of parties on a weekend and some vandalized flower pots on 36th street.
The neighbors will keep on doin’ their thang
The neighbors’ stance is fairly obvious. They will use the same arguments they have been using since the beginning of the process. If they are allowed to speak, the community will reiterate their submissions by calling Georgetown’s eleventh hour initiatives ineffective. If things go poorly, it will devolve into a he-said/she-said with the conflicting anecdotes of Rocky’s reports and the testimonies, but Chairman Hood will shut both parties up if things get out of hand.
Also, Vox wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbors tried to discredit the university’s petition in support of the campus plan. When DC Students Speak submitted their petition in support of the campus plan to the ANC back in February, Commissioner Jeff Jones called the petition invalid because some of the signatures were routed through Kansas. The community is not above playing the you-have-a-conflict-of-interest-so-what-you-say-is-invalid card, but whether or not this card is effective remains to be shown.
Stay tuned for tomorrow at 6:30 when Vox will live-blog the hearing. Use #GUcampusplan to join the twonversation and vilify us when our prediction prove false.