Marge Rachlin has written previously for the Forest Hills Connection to update us on the proposed changes in the rewrite of our zoning regulations. She presents us with her opinion about what those changes could mean for Forest Hills and wants us to attend the meeting on January 8 which will be one of our last chances to impact these changes.
The DC Office of Planning (OP) is re-writing our entire zoning code, and some of these changes, such as no parking requirements along our stretch of Connecticut Avenue, affect us in Forest Hills. OP is having one meeting in each ward to explain the changes and the Ward 3 meeting is next week.
If you want to have input on this re-write, you need to go to these two meetings.
1. Tuesday, January 8 at 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Office of Planning explains their recommendations for the city and our area at Wilson High School, and takes questions.
2. Tuesday, January 15 at 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Muriel Bowser will be at the Chevy Chase Citizens Association meeting at the Community Center (Connecticut and McKinley) to hear about local concerns.
The January 8 meeting set up by the Office of Planning is one of the few meetings where residents can have input before the recommendations go to a final hearing before the Zoning Commission sometime later this year. Mark your calendar.
At the January 15 meeting we have a chance to tell our Councilmembers what we think. Councilmembers have no vote on the OP’s zoning rewrite, but they have influence over OP politically and on its budget.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO FOREST HILLS?
“Transit Zone” along Connecticut Avenue
Stores and apartments along Connecticut Avenue will no longer have a requirement to provide on-site parking (garage or outside). OP proposes to designate the stretch of Connecticut from Calvert Street to Chesapeake Street as “transit zones” because this area has good Metro and bus transportation. OP says that dropping the present parking requirement, and having no parking requirements, reflects the current trend and potential growth of those wanting “to live a ‘car-free’ life style,” and it will encourage use of walking, Metro, bus and bicycle.
This could increase parking on our residential streets with the growth of our commercial areas and apartment buildings. Also, developers left to the vagaries of the market (providing parking is a substantial cost for developers) are likely to see young professionals as their target customer rather than families with children, who are more and more populating our apartment buildings, and older folks, both of whom depend on cars.
What about friends and shoppers who live east of us, such as across the Park in Crestwood, and west, such as Palisades? They have no mass transit to get here and OP ignores east-west transit problems.
It is unrealistic for OP to think that most people living in an area like Forest Hills are going to live here without a car, unless OP envisions a corridor predominantly populated by young adults without children and more isolated from our eastern and western neighborhoods.
Side Yards Remain at 8 feet in R-1-A and R-1-B Zones
OP has withdrawn its proposal to cut the side yard requirement in our residential districts, and we are back to the present 8-foot requirement. Citizen outcry caused OP to change.
Use the OP Website
To see what the DC Office of Planning has to say go to http://dczoningupdate.org. This is an excellent web site with detailed info as well as an explanation of OP’s recommendations and thinking on these and the other changes not discussed here.