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Planning D.C.'s future
Citizens' group proposes greater public involvement
(Published January 9, 2006)

Staff Writer

A local citizens' group is proposing creation of a D.C. Planning Commission to better align public expenditures with carrying out the land-use vision embodied in the city's Comprehensive Plan.

The lack of such an independent commission, according to the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, has resulted "all too often [in] uncoordinated, ad hoc development with the resultant need for patchwork financial solutions."

The city's Comprehensive Plan, which governs land use, is currently undergoing major review and revision.

The Committee of 100, founded in 1923 to safeguard the "fundamental values" of the L'Enfant Plan and the McMillan Commission visions for community development in the nation's capital, is sponsoring a symposium Jan. 12 at the National Building Museum during which panelists will discuss creation of a D.C. Planning Commission.

The panel discussion, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will be moderated by Gary Hack, dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, who will highlight his experience as chairman of Philadelphia's planning commission. Other panelists include Christopher Ronayne, former planning director in Cleveland; D.C. City Council Chairman Linda Cropp; Patricia Gallagher, executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission; and Ellen McCarthy, director of the D.C. Office of Planning.

As envisioned by the Committee of 100's proposal, the D.C. Planning Commission would be responsible for preparing the D.C. Comprehensive Plan, educating the public on city planning issues, providing a forum for conflict resolution on land use issues, advising city officials on planning matters, assisting the mayor in preparing the District's capital improvements budget consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and working with federal planning agencies.

Members of the commission, under the proposal, would be appointed to staggered three-year terms by the mayor, with council confirmation required.

"The work of the Planning Commission would be transparent to public view and the Commission would keep the interests of the public at large in mind in the ways that procedural business is conducted and substantive decisions are made," according to the group's proposal.

Copyright 2006 The Common Denominator