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Council oversight on land threatened by Congress

(Published August 9, 1999)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

A provision in the D.C. budget currently working its way through Congress would strip District residents of any say on how surplus property in the city is disposed of. The provision would give the mayor sole authority to grant development rights to tracts owned by the city government.

Council Chairman Linda Cropp has sent letters to members of both the Senate and House D.C. appropriations subcommittees asking them to delete two sections of the budget that would eliminate the councilís oversight of the Districtís undeveloped real estate.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams also sent a letter to appropriations subcommittee Chairman Ernest Istook, R-OK, saying that while he agrees with the idea of letting the mayorís office have total control of the cityís undeveloped land, he does not think Congress should infringe on the cityís home rule rights. In the Aug. 4 letter, Williams said he was writing only after several council members expressed their concern to him.

The council has already signaled its intention to consider legislation reforming current procedures for disposition of public property when it returns from its recess next month.

The council currently holds public legislative review hearings whenever the District disposes of public property. The cityís undeveloped properties are currently controlled by the Redevelopment Land Agency, but are set to be transferred to the National Capital Revitalization Corp. when that board is set up.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator