"We feel we have won the battle," said Larry Chatman, president of the Citizens for the Preservation of Neighborhoods, in the Brightwood section of Northwest Washington.
He was referring to a recent Zoning Commission decision that limited development of a triangular plot of land in Brightwood to four semi-detached houses (depluxes). The owner of the 15,000-square-foot plot, Mary C. B. Scott, had asked for a zoning changed that would have allowed her to build six townhouses (rowhouses). The Municipal Planning Office supported her request.
The commission, however, changed the zoning for Scott's property from R1-B, the classification for single family homes, to R2, the classification that would allow her to build the four semi-detanced houses. The property is bordered by Nicholson Lane, 14th Street and Manchester Street.
Brightwood citizens told zoning commissioners at two emotional hearings in May and July that townhouses were out of keeping with the single-family, detached houses of Brightwood and that a zoning change would lead to boarding houses and deterioration of the neighborhood.
Scott's attorney, Norman Glasgow, argued that six townhouses would help alleviate the District's housing situation and add tax revenues. He also noted that there were apartment houses across the street from the plot, arguing that townhouses were not out of keeping with the character of the neighborhood.
Chatman said Scott "originally wanted nine townhouses. Then she amended it to six. We wanted three, but we can live with four."
The board of directors of the citizens' group met the evening following the Zoning Commission decision and voted to end their fight.
"To fight for no change in zoning would have been long and expensive. We're very thankful for the decision. We felt the Zoning Commission was strongly influenced by our presentation and by our neighborhood's unity and desire to preserve the neighborhood," Chatman said.
Glasgow said his client was studying her options.
"We have not made any decision on how to proceed. We can request that the commission study the matter further if it turns out it is not feasible to build four houses on the plot. We can also consider filing a zoning adjustment."
Chatman said that if Scott filed for a zoning adjustment in order to build five houses, "We would fight that."