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DC government motions to dismiss lawsuit that would block new shelter at The Aston

File Photo by Erika Filter | Staff Photographer
The Aston’s entrance on New Hampshire Avenue.

Attorneys for the D.C. government and Mayor Muriel Bowser requested Friday the dismissal of a case seeking to delay the conversion of a former GW residence hall into a homeless shelter.

D.C. attorneys argued that zoning regulations permit the District to convert The Aston into a shelter for medically vulnerable unhoused people and that the West End D.C. Community Association — an unincorporated and unnamed group of local property owners — do not have standing to file the suit. The suit, the second one filed by the group, aims to stop the conversion and argues the government did not give the community enough time to give feedback on the proposed development.

The motion to dismiss states that the D.C. District Court cannot rule on the case because the District has not moved residents into The Aston, meaning it has yet to violate zoning regulations the lawsuit alleges they are breaking. After District officials submit a permit application, the Zoning Administrator will review it and issue a certificate of occupancy for The Aston, the filing states.

“Plaintiff is putting the cart before the horse,” the filing reads.

Attorneys argue the West End D.C. Community Association has not concretely shown how its members would be harmed by the conversion, and it cannot suffer “hardship” while the District is still in the planning stages of the conversion. They also argue the description of the group’s members does not provide enough information to show that they would be affected by the conversion.

“There is no indication that its members would have standing to sue in their own right nor that the interests the association seeks to protect are germane to its purpose,” the filing reads.

The suit closely resembles one the same group filed in July and subsequently withdrew in August, which led to the District completing its purchase of The Aston from the University for $27.5 million later that month.

The filing states that the plaintiff is mistaken about zoning law and “medical care uses” for a building are permitted under The Aston’s zoning, so the District can use it as a medical clinic. The Department of General Services’ original request sought proposals from buildings that could house an exam room, but officials have not announced other plans to add clinical spaces to The Aston.

While the initial lawsuit alleges the government would need to make additional requests for construction on buildings, D.C. attorneys argue that The Aston is not part of GW’s Planned Use Development, nullifying the opposition’s argument that the proposed changes to the PUD would require additional authorization.

Barring a ruling from Judge Maurice A. Ross, the two parties will hold an initial scheduling conference Jan. 26 at 9:30 a.m.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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