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Testimony of Theresa Conroy, Candidate for Ward 3 Council

September 26, 2006, Council Committee of the Whole
Bill 16-876, Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2006 

Madame Chair and members of the Committee of the Whole, Im Theresa Conroy, candidate for Ward 3 Council Member.  Time does not permit a comprehensive reaction to the Mayors draft of the new comprehensive plan, but I do have a few comments. 

I agree with the use of area elements that correspond to natural boundaries, such as Rock Creek West, rather than wards. 

I regret that the Transportation Element of the Plan does not call for the repair and reopening of  Klingle Road, approved by the Council in 2003. 

The plan assumes the continued existence of the Height Law  which limits building height to 130 feet.  I think that we should explore the possibility of building higher than that if it advances District interests like increasing the tax base or affordable housing. 

The Rock Creek West element calls for the synchronization of traffic lights on Wisconsin and on Connecticut Avenues.  Absolutely right, and why wait? 

Most important, with many Ward 3 residents I worry that the plan might permit unrestrained development, especially in the Upper Wisconsin and Upper Connecticut corridors.  Even a project that is good for the metropolitan area or for the District as a whole might still be bad for neighboring residents.  If the plan leads to zoning changes that permit as a matter of right more density and height, neighbors will have no effective way to protect their interests. 

The plan acknowledges that there could be a lot of development within existing zoning, so we should not change it.  So a developer who wants to build beyond those limits would have to go to the Board of Zoning Adjustment, which would have to give great weight to the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and hear from neighborhood associations or individual residents. 

Indeed, the ANCs should be fully recognized as the official, authentic, legitimate voice of the neighborhoods.  The executive branch should abolish the neighborhood clusters and use ANC areas as the local subdivisions of government. 

The Northwest Current newspaper recently asked Democratic Ward 3 Council candidates, Should the D.C. Council adopt the revised Comprehensive Plan before the new Mayor and Council take office?  One candidate replied, It should be approved after the primary, but before the new mayor takes office, to minimize undue political influence.  I say, not so fast.  There is still a general election campaign ahead of us, in which the plan, in Ward 3 and elsewhere, will be and should be an issue.  We have heard from the executive branch, the task force, and many organizations and individuals on the plan, and they have done good work.  Now let us hear from the voters, all of them.

For additional information, please email support@repairklingleroad.org