Breaking: University and neighborhood groups to restart campus plan negotiations
Tonight, Georgetown University, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, Citizens Association of Georgetown, and the Burleith Citizens Association announced they would restart negotiations about the 2010-2020 Georgetown University campus plan. They also requested that the Zoning Commission postpone its filing deadlines and an upcoming hearing to allow the negotiations to unfold.
The parties announced their decision at tonight’s public meeting of ANC2E, where Chair Ron Lewis said, “Today we, together, have filed a letter with the Zoning Commission requesting that they postpone the filing deadline on the 12th [of April] and on the 19th [of April] and then the hearing afterwards for 60 days so we can explore the possibility of reaching common ground in our talks about the campus plan.”
This decision comes after Zoning Commissioner Anthony Hood suggested at the February 9 hearing that university administrators meet regularly with community leaders to resolve the objectionable impacts of students. At the hearing, the Zoning Commission said that all parties must file documents commenting on the efficacy of the university’s mitigation efforts by April 12 and 19. The 60-day extension would move the deadlines to June 11 and 18 with the small-scope hearing moved to June 25.
Georgetown University Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh issued the following statement:
At the last DC Zoning Commission hearing on February 9, all parties in our campus plan process – the university, our neighbors and the city – were asked to continue to work together to work toward agreement. Over the past six weeks we have been engaged in extensive work towards this goal, meeting with city and neighborhood leaders. This approach reflects our continued efforts to seek common ground and to engage with city and neighborhood leaders. Joining with our neighbors in requesting an extension is a meaningful sign of progress in a long process. We are pleased that the result of our work together over the last six weeks is a mutual agreement that it is in our best interest as a community to work together and with the city to find common ground.
Lewis added at the meeting that no reports would be issued from the negotiations.
“We can have better conversations if they can be conducted as candidly as possible,” he said.
Before the campus plan was filed in December 2010, university officials met with neighbors in “serious work sessions,” which were suspended in fall 2010. As a result, the university removed the 1789 block and the smokestack from the plan before filing. However, the parties did not resolve the issue of students off campus.
Then ANC commissioner Aaron Golds (COL ’11) said in a 2010 interview with the Voice that the majority of these confidential meetings focused on student housing but that the university and the neighbors could not come to an agreement. In addition to the work sessions, the university held five open meetings starting fall 2009 with neighbors to solicit input on the campus plan.
CAG president Jennifer Altemus (COL ’88) was recently quoted in a statement to Patch: “We met in good faith, we tried to mitigate any objectionable conditions, nothing really came of it.”
When asked what would be different this time from the original negotiations, Pugh wrote, “We are working with, and in direct communication with, our neighbors, neighborhood leadership and city leaders. We see this as progress toward meeting Zoning Commission Chairman Anthony Hood’s request to find common ground for all involved.”
Since the negotiations broke down in fall 2010, the university instituted mitigating factors, like 250 more beds on campus and a increased reimbursable details in the community. CAG, BCA, and ANC2E, joined later by the Office of Planning, have maintained their suggestion that the university house 100% of students on campus due to the objectionable impacts students create in the neighborhood. On the Feb 9 hearing, the Zoning Commission acknowledged the existence of the objectionable impacts but doubted whether the Zoning Commission had the authority to mandate this from the university.
At the time of publication, CAG, BCA, and ANC2E did not comment on whether or not they will withdraw their suggestion that the university house 100 percent of students on campus.