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District judge agrees to hear case that would block Aston shelter

Katelyn Power | Staff Photographer
The Aston’s entrance on 14th Street.

A District judge rejected last week the D.C. government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit from an unnamed group of locals aiming to block the conversion of a former GW residence hall into a homeless shelter.

Judge Maurice Ross denied the D.C. government’s motion to dismiss the case in an order last week. The plaintiffs, the West End DC Community Association, reaffirmed in their most recent filing that they would be directly harmed by the creation of a homeless shelter in The Aston, a former GW residence hall, and identified themselves as the owners of nearby condominiums, apartment buildings and businesses.

The West End DC Community Association filed an opposition to a building permit in December, which attorneys representing the D.C. government and Mayor Muriel Bowser included in their most recent filing as evidence that the group can oppose individual zoning and permit applications before accusing the government of violating the zoning standards. 

Attorneys representing the West End DC Community Association filed a motion late last month that argued they have standing to argue the case under D.C. statutory law “as neighboring property owners and occupants who would be specially damaged by the District’s violations.” The case would pause the conversion of The Aston into a homeless shelter, which is slotted to complete this summer.

“It is self-evident that the Complaint seeks to protect interests in promoting and maintaining the character of the West End neighborhood and encouraging the stability and value of the properties contained within its boundaries, and those interests are squarely in line with the Association’s stated purposes,” the judge’s filing states.

The unnamed group of locals filed a near-identical lawsuit in July, which they withdrew in August. Their most recent filing states the West End DC Community Association is made up of “multiple individual owners of units in” 22 West, a condominium across the street from The Aston, along with owners of condominium and apartment units at 1111 24th St. NW and 1110 23rd St. NW and “multiple businesses that own or occupy properties in the immediate vicinity of, including properties on the same block as, the Aston.”

Representatives from the West End DC Community Association and 22 West did not return requests for comment. 

Attorneys for the West End DC Community Association argued in the filing they should not have to wait to litigate the issue until after the Board of Zoning weighs in because the decision is not yet up for review. District officials said in their motion to dismiss the case they have not yet submitted permit applications to the Board of Zoning.

“The District has not applied to the BZA or Zoning Commission for any required approvals and has indicated that it has no intention of doing so,” the West End DC Community Association’s filing reads.

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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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