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A New DC Bill Would Give ANCs Great Weight in Comprehensive Plan

by Nena Perry-Brown

As the DC Council anticipates revisiting the Comprehensive Plan to add clarity to the development process in the city, a new bill would make the process more inclusive.

Yesterday, At-Large Councilmember Robert White introduced a bill which would, as he described, give the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) "great weight" in amending the Comprehensive Plan during this upcoming process. The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Participation in Planning Amendment Act of 2019 would also require that ANCs receive notice prior to final decisions on grant awards and prior to:

"The transmission to the Council of a proposed revenue bond issuance, comprehensive plan, amendment to a comprehensive plan, or element of a comprehensive plan; or The formulation of any final policy decision or guideline with respect to grant applications, requested or proposed zoning changes, variances, public improvements, licenses, or permits affecting said Commission area, the District budget and city goals and priorities, proposed changes in District government service delivery, and the opening of any proposed facility systems."

The bill has particular implications for the Comprehensive Plan amendments, which Mayor Bowser asked the Council to revise last year in response to an uptick in appeals of zoning decisions. Although several appeals have been dismissed in recent months, they have also succeeded in delaying or diminishing development of thousands of housing units. Councilmembers Anita Bonds (At-Large) and Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) are co-sponsors of the new bill.

"ANCs are elected officials who represent residents and can provide the Council and Mayor with important input on how the city’s planning process directly impacts their neighborhoods," Councilmember White told UrbanTurf. "Ensuring that ANC input is taken seriously before Council review will help achieve transparency and quality during the planning process."

Typically, the city's zoning and planning agencies already give "great weight" to the opinions of the ANCs affected by a proposed development, although the outcome of some approvals may not seem to reflect this consideration. Considering how contentious the debate was over Comp Plan amendments a year ago, it will be interesting to see how this bill, if approved, will affect the process going forward.

The Council is expected to tackle amending the Comp Plan again this spring.

This article was updated to include a quote from Councilmember White.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/bill-would-give-ancs-great-weight-in-comprehensive-plan/15216

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