City Paper Widget

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Special Zoning for Big Box Stores Endorsed

Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 1B/U Street will consider a resolution at its next meeting that will force "big box" stores to apply for special zoning permission. The Design Review Committee of ANC1B unanimously approved a draft resolution which will deny "as-of-right" development for large retailers.

A labor attorney presented the proposal to the Design Review Committee at its meeting of December 16. The attorney said that big box stores have a uniquely adverse effects on part of the local community, including small retailers. If a special exception from zoning regulations were required, first local ANCs would have to be consulted, after which applications could proceed to D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustments.

If it approves the resolution at its next meeting, ANC1B will become the third ANC to approve a resolution of this type. ANC 4B and ANC 4D are the other ANCs who have voted in favor of the extra bureaucratic step for big box stores.

There was some debate about exactly how big a store had to be before it qualified as a big box store. The draft resolution devised by the attorney suggested 75,000 square feet or greater. ANC1B decided to go along with this definition.

There was also some discussion about whether certain other types of stores, like grocery stores, would then be subject to this same rule as well. All agreed that no one wished to discourage grocery stores.

The labor attorney told the commission that his draft resolution was only a suggestion and ANCs could revise it as they saw fit.

Design Review Committee chair Tony Norman (Commissioner for district 10) predicted that the zoning commission would agree to the proposal. There was no public process for big box stores now, Norman said.

Norman is also chair of ANC1B as a whole.

The next meeting of ANC1B will be Thursday, January 2, 2014, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets NW). 

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