As mentioned here on Monday, GU has amended its proposed campus plan as the Zoning Commissions hearings approach. The changes can be found here, but here’s a quick list of them:
- Add 250 beds to the main campus by the fall of 2014, or if they can’t build more dorms on campus, they’ll locate these beds outside of the residential sections of the 20007 zip code.
- By Dec. 31, 2013, move 1,000 students in the School of Continuing Studies to satellite locations.
- Reduce the total proposed student cap from 16,133 to 15,000.
- Build no more parking spaces on campus.
- Agree not to hold convocations on the newly covered Kehoe Field.
There has been a lot of teeth-gnashing around the Internet since these changes were proposed, but GM thinks a lot of that frustration stems from not understanding the context of the situation. It is GM’s opinion that GU stopped seriously trying to win over the neighbors and the ANC a long time ago. As soon as it became clear that the anti-GU groups were not going to accept anything but a significant reduction of students living in the neighborhood, GM believes that school started playing to a different audience: the Office of Planning and the Zoning Commission.
Because in the end, those are the primary parties that will decide the fate of the campus plan. The Zoning Commission will be the party actually deciding it, but it will be greatly influenced by the Office of Planning. This represents a change from ten years ago. Back when the last GU campus plan was being submitted, it was the Board of Zoning
AdministrationAdjustment that decided the case.
And the BZA actually ruled against GU during the first go around. In 2001, it approved the campus plan by modifying it to set an enrollment cap at the 1990 levels. GU appealed, and in 2003 the DC Court of Appeals overturned the BZA decision and sent it back for rehearing.
The second time the BZA heard the case, it swung dramatically back in favor of GU. Much of this has to do with the fact that the minutes to the original hearing were not well kept, so there wasn’t much of a factual record for the second BZA to rely on (GU successfully blocked CAG’s attempt to add to the record the second time around). Second, the BZA had a different composition by the time it heard the case again. The second BZA review resulted in, among other things, GU having the higher undergrad cap it requested and no overall cap. Continue reading