Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Residents predict plan rejection

Members of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the Foggy Bottom community say GW’s campus plan will not pass in its current form when it comes to vote in December.

GW will not compromise, said ANC Secretary Richard Sheehey, a 1995 graduate of GW. GW is probably going to lose.

The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment will vote on the plan Dec. 12.

The University remains confident that modifications to the plan over the past few months have addressed the community’s concerns, and will lead to the approval of the plan next month, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

The BZA postponed its decision about the 2000-10 Campus Plan, previously scheduled for Nov. 15, because the D.C. Office of Planning submitted its revised report on the plan late.

All universities located in a residential area within the District are required to submit a campus plan every 10 to 15 years.

While the ANC has no official authority, city officials consider its advice before deciding whether to approve any proposal concerning construction or expansion.

This week, Trachtenberg sent a letter to residents of the Foggy Bottom community, assuring that if the current campus plan is approved, GW looks forward to coming closer to our neighbors in the next decade.

The letter lists concessions to the community covered in the campus plan, including $100 million to construct housing for 2,000 more undergraduate students, a requirement that all freshmen and sophomores live on campus and an additional 2,800 University parking spots.

The issue is not whether or not there is going to be a campus plan, Trachtenberg said. It’s how to make a campus plan that makes sense to the mayor, the University and the neighbors.

Sheehey said the University’s campus plan will not be approved carte blanche, without any alterations.

One of two things will happen, he said. Either it will be passed with lots of restrictions or it will be turned back to GW with (requested) modifications.

Sheehey said the University has still not sufficiently addressed issues of growing enrollment and housing, which are the main concerns of the surrounding neighborhood. The rest of the issues involved in the campus plan, Sheehey said, do not directly affect the community and do not concern the ANC.

You can’t pack students into University like cattle and charge Harvard prices to get a Michigan State (University) education, Sheehey said.

Sheehey said the ANC never asked GW to require freshmen sophomores to live on campus.

We’re pro-student, he said. (The students) have a right to associate where they want.

Georgetown University’s campus plan, which sparked similar controversy between the university and its neighbors, was approved by the BZA last Wednesday. Georgetown’s plan focused on providing more space for administration, faculty and student use, said Rabab Jafry-Pettitt, assistant director of Public Affairs for Georgetown.

Pettitt and Sheehey said the BZA’s approval of Georgetown’s plan does not necessarily reflect well on GW, particularly because Georgetown’s ANC supported the university’s plan when it was up for approval. The Foggy Bottom ANC has not endorsed GW’s plan.

The Office of Planning originally suggested that the BZA reject GW’s campus plan in September, asking for a provision to restrict the number of students living in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

The Board approaches all plans differently, Pettitt said. There are conditions the Board may impose on the plan depending (on the situation).

GW has focused on the $100 million housing initiative as its strongest point of arbitration with neighboring residents, Trachtenberg said.

This is hardly a trivial contribution, Trachtenberg said. We tried to anticipate what the city will ask of us in advance. We’re not trying to be cute.

Trachtenberg advocated the need for cooperation between GW and the surrounding community.

We’ve been in Washington since 1821, we’ve been in Foggy Bottom for 88 years, Trachtenberg said. We’re not going away, the neighbors aren’t going away, the city isn’t going away. We need to learn to live with each other.

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