A major potential barrier to the enactment of a comprehensive land-use plan for Washington was eliminated this week after the D.C. Planning Office agreed to prepare a detailed map that shows how the new policies would directly affect residential and commercial areas.
City Council Chairman David A. Clarke and the leaders of several community groups threatened to oppose the plan when it is sent to the City Council unless it is accompanied by a detailed map showing the density of new housing and office and retail space that would be permitted.
John (Skip) McKoy, director of the city's planning office, told a group of community activists Wednesday evening that he would have a preliminary land-use map ready for their inspection within a month or two. McKoy's announcement was hailed as a breakthrough by the community leaders.
"I'm very excited about it," said Carol Currie, chairman of the D.C. Citizens Planning Coalition. "Now we've got something we can speak to, and that's very important."
Community groups seeking to protect their neighborhoods' from encroachment by commercial developers wanted protections clearly delineated on a map. McKoy and other city planners, who want some flexibility in dealing with developers, resisted proposals to enact a map into law.
"If the map is enacted into law, then any time the economy or the environment or technology changes and you needed to change a line on the map... you would have to go back [to the City Council] to change the law," McKoy said recently.
But yesterday, McKoy said a compromise was worked out in which the council would be asked to enact the text of the 330-page land-use plan into law and simultaneously pass a resolution making the map a guide a revising the city's zoning code.
"In that way, the council and the mayor and the citizens will have something with a quasi-legal status," McKoy said.
The city's Home Rule Charter requires the city to prepare a comprehensive land-use plan, but former Mayor Walter E. Washington never produced one and Mayor Marion Barry took nearly four years to prepare a draft.
The draft plan, unveiled last October, would restrict most future commercial growth to the downtown core and designated neighborhood centers, confine most industrial construction to the New York Avenue NE corridor, and regulate land use by the city, federal government and private firms along the 15 miles of waterfront.