Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Comprehensive Plan debate continues

The Council kicked off the first of a couple of days of testimony on the proposed Comprehensive Plan. Created to replace the document city planners have been operating under since 1984 (!), the new Plan is designed to be the blueprint for planners, developers, civic organizations, etc for the next 20 years.

proponents of the plan include the Mayor, several council members, the Office of Planning staff, ANCs and civic groups from around the city who have spent thousands of hours in neighborhood meetings, one on one discussions crafting this plan with activists from all corners of the city.

Opponents (comprised of activists, civic groups and ANCs) are claiming that more time is needed to craft the perfect document, and further that there hasn't been enough time to parse through the draft. Once example was cited in the NW Current regarding the WMATA Bus garage.

Nat Bottigheimer testified that WMATA needed the flexibility of additional floors to attract the kind of development options necessary to 1) make a parcel on top of a Metro Station more viable and 2) return critical funding to WMATA for other initiatives. Many were disappointed with Ellen McCarthy (Director of the Office of Planning) characterizing the "wishes of the community" as preferring not to upzone the parcel. Excuse me? Who is she listening to in making that statement? The 12 angry voices of Ward 3 or the thousands who supported a sweeping change in Ward politics just a couple of weeks ago?

Is this a perfect document? Of course not.

However, it is meant to be a flexible document which can be amended over time and as conditions change. It is meant to be a framework.

I think enough time has been spent on this that it should be passed.

If I am Adrian Fenty and Vincent Grey, do I want to have this draft hanging over my head for the first 1-4 years of my office, or do I want to start with a clean slate? Where Mr. Fenty had campaigned on listening to the community, he is quoted yesterday as "respecting the three year planning process" and to "move forward" with the Plan.

I certainly hope so. Enough time and money has been spent. What more is there to gain?

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