Waterfront case must be limited to its special facts and that the long-standing rule in this jurisdiction remains the same, i.e., that when the Zoning Commission acts in a quasi-legislative manner, as it did here, no statement of reasons is necessary. Further they state that NEPA is not applicable since no federal action affecting the down-zoned area is involved and the zoning change was endorsed by the National Capital Planning Commission which presented favorable environmental considerations.
This down-zoning affects a substantial area of the city. Indeed, the very nature of down-zoning for a high-density area may have a particularly far-reaching effect, often adverse, on the utilization and purchase of many properties affected. While the exact scope and meaning of the so-called Georgetown Waterfront case is uncertain, the decision appears to require the Commission to file a statement of its reasons in a case such as this provided the Court is satisfied that judicial review will thereby be facilitated and the nature of the issues tendered suggests a clear necessity.*
The record before the Zoning Commission was extensive and the Commission heard contradictory contentions. Plaintiffs not only insist that the Commission acted arbitrarily on the matters before it but claim the Commission acted at the instance of RLA to hold down property values so that just compensation awards in subsequent takings will be smaller. Thus it appears that judicial review will be facilitated by a statement of the Commission's reasons. This view is bolstered when consideration is given to the related NEPA aspect. Here, again, the Georgetown Waterfront case strongly suggests that the Commission should indicate the reasons it finds the specific potential environmental effects of down-zoning favorable when weighed against any countervailing environmental considerations indicated in the record. The Court has concluded under these circumstances that it should direct the Zoning Commission to state its reasons for the challenged down-zoning order, accompanied by a statement of the environmental factors it considers persuasive of the action taken.
As for the preliminary injunction request, the Court will deny the injunction. The issues are novel, the likelihood of success on the merits appears very slight and the public interest requires that courts not interfere with major city planning efforts that have had careful study and wide support before full hearing, unless an urgent necessity, which has not here been shown, has been affirmatively demonstrated.
The Court recognizes, however, that it is important to move situations such as this promptly to final determination. Accordingly, counsel are hereby notified that a hearing on the merits is set for 9:30 a.m., on Thursday, April 19, 1973, at which time any evidence and further documents may be presented. The parties shall also by this date submit final briefs on the remaining legal issues tendered.
The foregoing shall constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
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