The federal planning commission that the State Department wants as the new monitor of foreign chancery locations in Washington has rebuffed the department, declaring officially that it doesn't want the job.
In a related development, the D.C. government's top planning official, James O. Gibson, pupublicly voiced strong misgivings about the State Department's compromise proposal intended to avert a congressional controversy over the law regulating the sites of chanceries, as embassy business offices are known.
The issue, Gibson declared in a classic understatement to the D.C. Zoning Commission, "is not totally unconfusing."
The State Department, complaining that the District makes it too difficult to locate chanceries in residential areas, persuaded the House Foreign Affairs Committee to recommend a change in the law to take the matter away from District zoning officals and give it to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), a federal panel with a minority of District representatives.
However, the commission, in a closed meeting Thursday, voted 9 to 1 to adopt a resolution by one of its District representatives, Ann H. Loikow, opposing the State Department's plan to give NCPC chancery zoning powers. ". . . It has not yet been demonstrated . . . that there is a problem," the resolution declared in part.
While prepared to fight the State Department proposal as a violation of home rule, Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.), chairman of the House District Committee, urged the State Department and the city to seek a compromise solution to head off a congressional dispute. aDiscussions began Monday.
Gibson, assistant city administrator for planning and development, told the zoning commission that State's compromise proposal for having chancery site issues considered by the five zoning commission members augmented by two federal representatives raises amny problems. "I can assure you, we we [city officials] do not agree with that one," he said. Gauging by their hostile responses, neither did zoning commission members.
Any belief State Department officials had that the NCPC, because of its predominantly federal makeup, would give rubber-stamp approvals to chancery applications was dashed by the NCPC resolution and a vote it took the same day.
The NCPC, which now gives only advisory opinions on chancery sites, refused to endorse a proposal by the Philippine government, pending before the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment, to build a new chancery on the southeast corner of 17th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. Normal zoning requires 29 off-street parking spaces, and the plan calls for only eight.