Last night the ANC testified before the Zoning Commission on the Georgetown University campus plan. You can watch it here.
In many ways, this was a presentation years in preparation. Commissioners Ron Lewis, Bill Starrels, Jeff Jones, and Ed Solomon each spoke, but it was Ron that carried the heavy load. Where the Office of Planning’s case was undermined last week due to an apparent lack of preparation, nothing of the sort was on display last night.
Essentially the story that the ANC put forth was this: the 2000 campus plan was adopted on the promise that it would remedy an existing problem with students in the neighborhood. The ANC argues that not only did the plan not address the existing problem, the school took advantage of the lack of an overall student cap and grew every category but traditional undergrads as much as possible. Thus, they argue, the situation with the undergrads are at best no better than they were before the 2000 plan, and in the meantime, a new problem with excessive graduate and non-traditional student growth has produced a new problem.
GU attorney Maureen Dwyer was much less successful poking holes in the ANC’s case than she was with the OP’s presentation. Simply put, Ron and the others have lived and breathed this topic much more than the staff at Office of Planning ever could, so they were much better equipped to parry Dwyer’s cross-examination.
The commissioners seemed impressed with the ANC’s presentation as well, but so far it’s been difficult to get a good read on which way they’re leaning. But it was probably a good night for the anti-campus plan crowd.
On the plus side for the university, seven witnesses were able to testify in favor of the plan at the end of the night. This testimony included three non-GU-affiliated residents, most notably among them former ANC commissioners Grace Bateman and Jonda McFarlane. Bateman and McFarlane both argued that the student problem is overblown and that there are many benefits in having students around which outweigh the drawbacks.