A D.C. Superior Court judge cleared the way yesterday for the developer of a massive office building complex on upper Wisconsin Avenue to proceed with plans to build an access road to the site that had become a symbol of the antidevelopment fight among neighborhood groups.
In a 92-page opinion, Judge A. Franklin Burgess Jr. dismissed claims that the city had failed to follow proper procedures in issuing paving permits for an access road to the $40 million office and shopping complex at 4000 Wisconsin Avenue NW and said that adequate consideration has been given to neighborhood opposition.
Those opposed to the five-story complex had argued that the complex would cause unnecessary traffic congestion and result in a loss of parkland. About 350 feet of the planned road is currently a grassy stretch of land in Glover Archbold Park.
Lawyers for the developers, Donohoe Construction Co. and the Holladay Corp., praised the judge's ruling yesterday and said paving of the road would begin "maybe tomorrow, maybe sooner." Residents reported last night that bulldozers were removing trees from the road site. The outside structure of the complex is nearly completed, the attorney for the group said, with interior work scheduled to start soon.
"We are very pleased with the decision and we feel that in the long run the neighborhood will benefit from the case," said Whayne Quin, the attorney for the developers. "The developers want to be good neighbors and are doing everything to work with the neighbors."
Opponents, however, said they plan to continue their fight against the development and may resort to civil disobedience to stop the paving. Richard Nettler, an attorney for the group, said an appeal of the judge's ruling also is being considered.
"If they come in with bulldozers we will stand in front of them," said Joel Odum, president of the Tenley and Cleveland Park Emergency Committee. "We are still fighting and the fight will continue."
The judge's ruling yesterday dealt a blow to community groups that had rallied around the development as a symbol of their opposition to large-scale construction in their neighborhoods. The development became a central campaign issue in the last mayoral election and spurred, in part, a D.C. Zoning Commission decision in March to downzone a 12-block stretch of upper Wisconsin Avenue.