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Petworth ANC Passes Housing Development Guidelines

by Nena Perry-Brown

As the city contemplates how to update the Comprehensive Plan, one DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) is taking a similar approach to development within its borders.

This week, ANC 4C voted to approve a "Development Guidelines" document which spells out the ANC's preferences and priorities for how it will approach evaluating residential developments under its purview. The ANC covers areas of both Petworth and 16th Street Heights.

"The District’s zoning laws are designed to support development without offering much in terms of community input," the document explains. "The goal of this draft proposal is to offer an olive branch to those who want to invest in our neighbors by helping them understand where and how we want to see development." The document also notes that the guidelines will continue to evolve moving forward and are not intended as permanent. 

The document states affordable housing as a top priority, suggesting that any developers unwilling to include affordable units in a development which needs zoning variances should build by-right instead. It is also suggested that the ANC may be more amenable to special exceptions or other leniencies if there is a clear community benefit (like affordable housing or family-sized units) or if the subject property is vacant and blighted (unless the applicant is responsible for the property being in that state; the ANC would also require disclosure of who owns relevant LLCs in order to check parties' track record). 

For mixed-use developments, the document expresses the ANC's willingness to grant special exceptions and variances when particular uses are incorporated, such as grocers with fresh produce which accept public assistance, nonprofits, and senior and childcare services. The ANC would seek to create more equity between businesses, offering neighboring establishments the option of outdoor seating or extended hours when such a provision is granted to a particular business. The document also requires any developments seeking ANC support to perform basic infrastructural or public health-related logistic work, including replacement of lead pipes, pest abatement, and use of permeable surfaces.

It is unclear whether other ANCs are working on similar guideline documents, although ANC 8C is currently undergoing a planning process to determine a unified set of goals and criteria for future community benefits agreements with developers. It also remains to be seen how successful such efforts will be at dictating neighborhood development. 

See other articles related to: petworth, development, anc 4c, 16th street heights

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/petworth-anc-passes-housing-development-guidelines/15645

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