Council member Phil Mendelson joined the fray over the Georgetown University Campus Plan, writing a letter to the Zoning Commission this week, in which he encouraged its members to reject the GU Plan and to require 100 percent housing of undergraduate students. Mendelson joins Council members Mary Cheh, Vincent Orange and Jack Evans, in expressing his concerns over the plan.
"I am writing in support of the communities that border Georgetown University to urge the Zoning Commission not to approve the 2010-2010 Campus Plan as filed by the University," wrote Mendelson in a letter to the commission dated Sept. 16, 2011.
Mendelson's reasons for opposing the plan include the 40 percent growth in University enrollment in the past decade and GU's failure to "adequately address and mitigate" the adverse impacts of those additional students, including the lack of housing.
"I support the position taken by the Office of Planning and by ANC2E in this case, including the request that all of the University's traditional undergraduates be housed on campus," he wrote.
Georgetown University offered a voluntary cap on enrollment of traditional students as part of its plan, but in hearing after hearing at the commission, neighbors testified that it was too little, too late.
Mendelson's move to side with neighbors comes less than a month after he criticized many of the same people for what he termed "grossly discriminatory" practices during the advisory neighborhood commission process. He told that Georgetown Current that the co-chairs "can't just turn a blind eye to the principle of one man, one vote." Students had lauded Mendelson's statements on their behalf.
A spokesperson from the University offered the following statement in response to Mendelson's letter:
We respect Councilman Mendelson and we share his concerns, which is why we are engaged with all of our stakeholders to balance the needs of the University with the concerns of our neighbors.
Throughout this process, we have listened to our neighbors and responded to their concerns. We have made investments that are improving the quality of life for students and neighbors. That is our commitment and we will continue to do that.
The next hearing on the GU Plan will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 2011.