Developers and their lawyers are lobbying furiously behind the scenes to effectively overturn the Zoning Commission's recent decision to require builders to construct housing alongside office buildings in the underdeveloped parts of downtown Washington.
One document circulating among top D.C. officials contains proposed language for a bill that would alter the city's Compre- hensive Plan to bring it more in line with goals sought by developers and some nonprofit housing builders: namely, permitting developers to contribute to affordable housing outside downtown, instead of on parcels in the downtown area.
The document was written by lawyers at Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick & Lane, the most prominent and powerful zoning law firm in the city.
Developers would prefer such an approach, partly because it would keep property values high in the downtown area -- where they would rather build more-profitable office buildings -- and partly because they believe it is a more economically realistic approach to creating affordable housing.
But some community activists believe that the Wilkes, Artis plan would gut the city's hopes for a "living downtown" of arts and housing to go along with the office buildings on K Street.
It is uncertain whether D.C. Council members would go along with changing the Compre- hensive Plan less than a year after a bruising fight over proposed amendments to the plan. A spokesman for D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke (D) says Clarke has no plans to introduce new changes before his term expires in January, while a source indicates it is unlikely that Mayor Marion Barry would send down such changes either.
But developers, who are furious with the Zoning Commission's decision, are trying other means to deep-six its downtown plan.
One approach has been to bring pressure on the two federal appointees to the Zoning Commission -- in an effort to get them to switch their votes in several weeks when the five-member body meets for a ratification vote on its earlier decision.
Recently, a representative of the Oliver Carr Co. and other opponents of the plan met with top aides to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp and an official of the Interior Department to enlist their help in defeating the Zoning Commission plan.
One of the subjects that came up was the possibility of urging the federal representatives on the Zoning Commission, William Ensign and John Parsons, to switch their votes, according to Joanne A. Kaplan, a Carr Co. spokeswoman. "It was discussed," said Kaplan, who said the group asked the federal officials to do "whatever they could to help us."
"They said they would get back in touch with us," she said. Norton-Kane War Rages
The enmity between the Eleanor Holmes Norton and Betty Ann Kane camps may take months to dissipate: It seems they can't even agree on who said what to whom and when.
At a party on Capitol Hill recently for Harold Brazil, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 6 seat on the D.C. Council, Norton campaign manager Donna Brazile approached Kane to congratulate her on a hard-fought battle in the Democratic primary for D.C. delegate, according to Brazile.
Brazile said she told Kane that she hoped never to have to face her again, given the tough but unsuccessful campaign Kane waged against Norton in the primary. Kane responded that she was glad to hear that, adding, "You're the first to know that I'll be running again in 1992," according to Brazile.
Kane said through a spokeswoman that she doesn't recall the conversation with Brazile. The spokeswoman said Kane, whose term as an at-large member of the D.C. Council ends in January, would have no comment on her plans. Wilson Mum on Shuffling
D.C. Council chairman-to-be John A. Wilson (D) is not talking a lot yet about specific plans he has for reorganizing the council, such as how he plans to hand out plum committee assignments. There are strong suggestions that he would like to keep the Finance and Revenue Committee, which he has headed for the past 12 years, for himself.
Another powerful committee, the Government Operations Committee, has a vacant chairmanship with the impending departure of Kane, and the Education Committee also could get a new boss if incumbent Hilda H.M. Mason (Statehood-At Large) is knocked off in the Nov. 6 general election.
One widely anticipated move is the appointment of Wilson's campaign manager, Phyllis Jones, as the new secretary of the council. Jones used to be the top assistant to council member William Lightfoot (I-At Large).