City officials and residents of Southwest Washington disagreed this week about proposed zoning controls for the present and future development of the Southwest Urban Renewal Area.
Currently the urban renewal area has no zoning, but is subject to regulations under the urban renewal plan until 1996. The residents said they preferred to have mapping and zoning regulations that will maintain the present character of this area. The urban renewal plan, they say, allows for denser development than is currently in the area.
The city Municipal Planning Office has proposed that the regulations contained in the urban renewal plan be added to the District zoning regulations to control development south of the Southwest Freeway.
Over the years, Southwest residents have charged that residential homes in the urban renewal area have been unlawfully used for business purposes. Cecil Tucker, assistant secretary of the D.C. Zoning Commission, said this is in violation of the urban renewal plan. However, to date, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has reported that no violators have been prosecuted, said Tucker.
J. Kirkwood White, deputy director of the planning office, said that if the urban renewal plan was added to the zoning regulations, enforcement authority against violators would be strengthened. The proposed amendment directs that the director of HCD would approve all occupancy permits and intiate prosecution against violators in the Southwest Urban Renewal Area. HCD acting chief, Lawrence Press, said his agency approved of the proposed amendments.
Community opposition centered around the expressed fear that the urban renewal plan would ultimately destroy the present character of Southwest.
For example, the Waterfront area, presently comprised of restaurants and parks could develop highrise apartments and businesses there after 1996 if the planning office's plan is adopted, said Tucker.
Karen Hakel, a resident of the River Park Co-op represented residents in the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly. Hake asked for tighter restrictions than those contained in the urban renewal plan. This could be done, she said, by adopting mapping and zoning regulations more in line with what currently exists in Southwest rather than deferring to the urban renewal plan.