FOMP Zoning McMillan Remand: Zoning Commission Orders One More Hearing on September 14th at 5pm.
Dear Friend of McMillan Park,
We suspected that the Zoning Commission would announce tonight, following a second closed-door meeting with its legal counsel, that it would issue an order following the McMillan remand and that tonight's meeting would be brief.
We're wrong on both counts. The commissioners spoke at length about each of the five questions the D.C. Court of Appeals decision asked Zoning to consider, and then worked with parties to the case to schedule another hearing on September 14th at 5pm.
The evening started out (following the commission's meeting with Mr. Bergstein, the Zoning Commission's legal counsel) with all commissioners saying that they wanted to see the applicant provide more details about how cutting down the height of the medical building wasn't possible, what detriment doing so would have on the project, why reducing the scale of that building was not possible, not viable. The commissioners also agreed that they were not satisfied that the applicant had fully and exhaustively explained exactly why some reduction in the height of the health center wasn't possible, thus the new hearing. This was a breath of fresh air, after our side argued this very point in so many ways.
But the rest of the evening was filled with commissioners talking about what an important project this was, how many years had gone by with the property left vacant, how the Zoning Commission shared the concerns of the community (!!!), and even that Friends of McMillan Park had been helpful in articulating evolving community concerns. BUT the commissioners largely agreed that the applicant had satisfactorily addressed and mitigated various problems, discussed how important this was to revitalize a long-dormant park, how important this project was to our elected officials...etc.
After some dialog, the parties all agreed to a September 14th, 5pm hearing where the applicant will address the problems with the medical building height. As usual, dates were agreed upon for the applicant to file more documents and for the opposition (us) to respond.
This was a complicated session, and you can see the entire session here if you wish.
Tonight's session is the only one listed on that page for June 29th.
Oddly, during the debate about when the next hearing would take place, one Kimberly Johnson, saying that she represented the District government, spoke of the 'urgency and importance' of this case to the D.C. Government, urging the Zoning Commission to try to hold the next hearing as soon as possible, sometime during July. I find that one Kimberly M. Johnson is listed online as a Section Chief with the Office of the Attorney General. I've never heard such urgency coming from the District and have no idea what this is about, and I'm puzzled why the government is trying so hard to get this case out of the way as soon as possible. What explains the sudden urgency?
This was a very odd night and we're still trying to figure out what provoked all this, rather than simply ordering that a decision be written. This may affect the scheduled July 14th Mayor's Agent hearing, but we don't know that yet.
If you haven't yet, please consider signing our Change dot org petition to reopen McMillan Park to the public, here. - And don't forget that our legal fund is always eager for donations, here!
See the court decision here.
See our Op-Ed here.
We cannot do this without your help!
Thank you for your continued interest and support,
John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood
Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.213.2690.