Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One Step Closer to a Better Giant

The O Street Market and Giant complex ( a little background here) will go through. Fifth and O already has a summary of last night's zoning board meeting, so I'll direct you there for the details. All in all this is great news for Shaw and a ray of hope for all Giant patrons, even if we'll be losing some high-rise penthouses in the process.

Up until now I never really paid attention to the Zoning Commission. Some of its more newsworthy decisions seemed to me to be nonsensical, but of little personal consequence. The O Street Market situation casused me to look into the ZC a little more. According to their website, "The Zoning Commission is an independent, five-member, quasi-judicial body in the District of Columbia . . . . Three members of the ZC are residents of the District of Columbia appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council." (I'm really not quite sure what "quasi-judicial" means as compared to "judicial".) Last night the chairman of the Commission stated that as judicial body it was inappropriate for anyone to lobby the Commission. Nevertheless, I feel that when the ZC is acting against the wishes of the mayor, neighborhood residents, and ANC commissioners, they need to know it. The ZC is basically self-regulating, so for development projects that do not meet criteria for Board of Zoning Appeals review, the ZC is the only body that can make judgment calls. Without resident and elected official's input, how can we check the power of the ZC to ensure that their decisions really are consistent with the regs and that exceptions to regs are granted when appropriate (and only when appropriate)?

By the by, the ZC has embarked on a comprehensive rewrite of the city's zoning laws. ANC 2F Chairman Charles Reed is lobbying for the ANCs to have input in this process, and hopes to form a committee of 2F residents. Given the impact that the law rewrite could have on DC, I would argue that this is a far more important and sexy issue than it sounds to be. A lot of great developments and sensible home improvements have been blocked by current zoning laws while a whole lot of awful projects made it through the filter. More of my thoughts on this matter to come soon . . .

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