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Columbia Hts. development decision on hold, pending RLA appointment

(Published May 31, 1999)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

A decision on who gets to build around the Columbia Heights Metro area has been further delayed, as the panel empowered to choose among the proposed projects refused to vote until another board member is added.

The Redevelopment Land Agency, which controls the D.C. government’s undeveloped land, refused to vote May 20 on the four pending development proposals it is considering for the area. The RLA lost one of its members in April with the departure of Mary Sherburne. That left only two voting members on the five-member board.

Marie Drissell, the head of the mayor’s Office of Boards and Commissions, said members of the RLA called her immediately after the May 20 meeting and asked her to send them names of possible candidates for board appointment. Drissell would not say whom she named.

When Sherburne left the board, Mayor Anthony A. Williams considered nominating City Administrator Norman Dong to the board on an interim basis. But Williams said he didn’t nominate Dong when city lawyers said the board could still legally function with less than half the seats filled.

Sherburne’s departed from the board after she sold her house to move to North Carolina.

According to board and commission profiles published by the D.C. government, residency in the city is not a requirement to serve on the RLA board.

Sherburne’s term expired March 22, but Drissell said members are generally allowed to continue functioning as board members up to 180 days after their terms expire.

The RLA’s next scheduled meeting is June 3, but action on the Columbia Heights proposals is not expected then.

Four developers have proposed building shopping and entertainment complexes a-round the new Columbia Heights Metro station, due to open Sept. 18. Three companies want to build on one parcel of land, while the fourth company, Forest City, has proposed developing four of the available tracts.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator