James O. Gibson, Assistant city administrator who heads the new Office of Planning and Development, told members of the Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Committee (WACC) last week that progress on the land-use portion of the city's comprehensive plan was a high priority of the Barry administration.
Gibson also said he wanted to see the land-use portion of the plan submitted to the D.C. City Council in the winter of 1980. "We are unequivocably committed to move ahead on the plans," Gibson said in a later interview. "Whithout it, these people have no policy, no protections."
The comprehensive plan, which the city's planning office was given to produce under the Home Rule Act of 1974, calls for the formation of detailed guidelines that will direct the District's future development.
Besides a general policy-and-goals statement, the plan covers such specific elements as land use, housing, transportation, environment, social need and the economy. To date, only the overall policy-and-goals statement has been fully developed. It was approved in late 1978.
Although Gibson and his staff say they hope to move more quickly on the plan than did the prior administration, submission of theland-use element by winter of 1980 hinges on a smooth-running timetable.
The timetable, Gibson said, would begin this spring with seminars and workshops and workshops in each of the District's eight wards, where existing community profiles and neighborhood plans would be reviewed and updated. The ward seminars, expected to continue through early summer, would be followed by draft texts produced gy the planning and development staff.
Once the draft texts are completed in early fall, they would be sent to the community for review. When returned, they would be incorporated by the planning staff into a final text, presumably in late fall.
Although Gibson was optimistic that the 1980 date could be met, he acknowledged the process could stretch into 1981 if all did not go well.
During Gibson's question-and-answer session with the WACC, several members expressed hope that the new planning and development office would respond to and encourage citizen advice, saying many citizen groups had volunteered much of their time in the past, only to see little or no progress in the comprehensive plan.
Gibson assured the audience his office was aware of past problems and said community suggestions are important to the administration. He also encouraged WACC members to remain involved in neighborhood issues and citizens groups. "Vigilance is the price of being a good citizen in government," he admonished.
The WACC is a citizen group formed about four, years ago to monitor development plans along Wisconsin Avenue from the District line at Western Avenue to the Georgetown waterfront. It has grown informally to encompass planning and development issues facing all of Ward 3. The group now includes about 30 citizens associations in the ward, as well as representatives from several Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
Newly elected WACC officers are Helen Wood, 4612 Albemarle St. NW, chairman; Carol Gidley, 4700 47th St. NW, vice-chairman; Robert Barry, 2448 39th St. NW, corresponding secretary; Philip Mendelson, 3840 39th St. NW, recording secretary; Charles Mason, 6432 31st St. NW, treasurer; Rosalind Jamision, 3812 Jenifer St. NW, assistant treasurer; Robert Arches, 5216 Sherrier Place NW, delegate; Patti Macie, 3808 Windom Place NW, Delegate; Charles Clinton, 4632 Windom Place NW, is the immediate past chairman.