D.C. Mayor Marion Barry sent his final version of the city's first proposed comprehensive plan to the City Council yesterday for adoption and announced that two major goals of the document were to preserve the city's residential neighborhoods and to stimulate more economic development and jobs.
Barry said the draft sent to the council contains several significant changes over a preliminary version released last year. He said the revisions reflect concerns expressed by citizen groups and business leaders.
The plan will help shape city policies for transportation, housing, environmental protection, historic preservation and human services. However, the segment of the plan that has provoked the biggest debate among community and business groups is a proposal on land use that would chart commercial and residential development in the city for the next 20 years.
City Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who along with other council members was briefed by Barry yesterday, said that he expects a major part of the council's debate to focus on a proposed land-use map that shows how the plan's policies would affect city neighborhoods.
Planning officials originally resisted preparing a land-use map. They agreed to include one only after Clarke and leaders of several community groups threatened to oppose the plan unless it had a detailed map that specified how the plan's policies would affect residential and commercial areas and that showed the permitted densities for new housing and office and retail space.
Barry, however, has asked the council not to enact the land-use map into law as it is required to do with the more general land-use plan and the other segments of the comprehensive plan. Under Barry's proposal, city planners would use the proposed land-use map as a guideline in shaping their recommendations to the Zoning Commission, the city agency that decides requests for zoning changes. The commission has final responsibility for regulating land use in the District.
Several community groups, including the Citizens Planning Coalition and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, want the land-use map enacted into law along with the plan because they say that is the only way to guarantee that what is contained in the map will actually be followed by the Zoning Commission.
Barry said enacting the map into law would require the council and Congress to approve all future changes, and would create a cumbersome and unwieldy procedure.
One major change made by city planners in the final version of the map involves the Dupont Circle neighborhood, where community leaders have long fought against further commercial encroachment into prime residential areas that border downtown.
The proposed map puts the city on record as opposing new commercial development in Dupont Circle neighborhoods north of Massachusetts Avenue NW, between 15th Street NW and the circle. John H. McKoy, the city planning director, said that the proposal would block city planners from endorsing projects similar to a controversial expansion being sought by the Brookings Institution. Brookings would like to build a $25 million office and apartment complex in Dupont Circle. McKoy has recommended that the Zoning Commission approve the Brookings request.
Dupont Circle activists said last night that unless the map is adopted along with the plan they do not believe the policy change gives them sufficient protections against further commercial development.
The proposed new policy for Dupont Circle development is included in the map but not the plan.
Other new proposals recommended in the final draft are:
* Designation of production and technical employment centers to encourage development of such businesses as service industries, computer and other high-technology firms along the New York Avenue and other industrial corridors.
* Establishing an interagency planning council that would coordinate all District government decisions on land use.
* Requiring the planning office to evaluate the parking, loading and pickup areas for churches, hospitals and schools located in residential areas.
Clarke said that the council will begin holding public hearings in mid-October.graphics/photo: Planning Director John H. McKoy, left, and D.C. Mayor Barry at yesterday's press conference on the comprehensive land-use plan. By Gerald Martineau-TWP