Monday, June 01, 2009

History of the Commerical Overlay in Cleveland Park and Woodley Park

In light of the discssion about the CPCA and the Zoning Overlay in Cleveland Park, former ANC Commissioner and zoning expert Ann Loikow has provided the following history:

ANC Commissioner Reeves asked why if CPCA has been working on the overlay for years it wasn't referred to the ANC. ANC 3C has been involved in the the issue of the neighborhood commercial overlay districts for twenty years.

ANC 3C was intimately involved in the creation of the neighborhood commercial overlay zones in Cleveland Park (both on Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues) and in Woodley Park which the Zoning Commission created in May 1989 (Zoning Commission Order No. 616, cases No. 86-26 and 87-27). These cases grew out of the effort to eliminate inconsistencies between the Zoning Regulations and the 1984-85 Comprehensive Plan Land Use Element. ANC 3C, and in particular Commissioner Phil Mendelson, the Cleveland Park Citizens Association (CPCA), the Woodley Park Community Association (WPCA), and the Cleveland Park Historical Society, among others, participated actively in these cases. As an Office of Planning's report noted these overlays were designed to ensure the compatibility of the use and scale of development in these neighborhood commercial centers with the surrounding residential areas. The limitation on uses was designed to help maintain a mix of neighborhood retail and services and ensure that there were a sufficient volume of both daytime and night-time customers to keep the businesses there economically viable. However, the overlays' limitations on eating and drinking establishments were never really implemented.

In 2000, both ANC 3C (which adopted a resolution on the issue in January 2000), individual commissioners from Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, CPCA and various community members sought to get the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to enforce the limitations on eating and drinking establishments in the overlay districts. In fact, the Zoning Administrator made a formal presentation about this to the ANC at its June 2000 meeting. As a result of this, DCRA issued proposed procedures for implementing the the limitation for eating or drinking establishments in the neighborhood commercial overlay districts in February 2002 which it adopted in May 2002. ANC 3C and CPCA and several individual District residents formally commented on the procedures.

In May 2002, in order to consider some of the concerns raised by the Zoning Administrator and DCRA on how to interpret the overlay regulations, the Zoning Commission published a notice of public hearing to be held in July 2002 on Case 02-06, "Text Amendments to Neighborhood Commercial Overlay District: Limitation for Eating or Drinking Establishments." In December 2002, the Zoning Commission tasked the Corporation Counsel with producing a proposed replacement or amended text. In November 2003, CPCA approved a resolution proposing a text amendment to the Zoning Commission to eliminate the ambiguities in the regulation regarding the limitation on eating and drinking establishments. The Zoning Commission noticed a second public hearing on Case 02-06 which was held in September 2005. At its December 2005 meeting, the Zoning Commission itself proposed an alternative solution and decided to hold further public hearings. This was all covered extensively in The Northwest Current.

In May 2006, ANC 6A petitioned the Zoning Commission to amend the Zoning Regulations to revise the definitions of "restaurants" and "fast food restaurants," among other things. The Zoning Commission set down the case as Case No. 06-23, "Text Amendment - Eating Establishment Definitions," in March 2007 and noticed a public hearing to be held in April 2007. ANC 3C, CPCA and WPCA, among others, participated in this case. The Zoning Commission approved a final order on the text amendments in Case No. 06-23 in July 2007.

The Zoning Commission's consideration and adoption of the neighborhood commercial overlay regulations has been a public process, of which both the public and the ANCs have been notified. ANC 3C, CPCA, WPCA and other neighborhood groups and individuals, as well as others from across the city, have been active participants in the process over the past twenty years. There is a substantial public record on the issue, as well as much news coverage, particularly in The Northwest Current, that is there for anyone who wishes to learn about it.

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