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Neighbors United for a Safer Community v. District of Columbia Bd. of Zoning Adjustment

September 26, 1994

NEIGHBORS UNITED FOR A SAFER COMMUNITY, PETITIONER
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENT, RESPONDENT, AND ROY LITTLEJOHN ASSOCIATES, INC., INTERVENOR



Petition For Review of an Order of the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

Before Terry and Sullivan, Associate Judges, and Mack, Senior Judge.*

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan

SULLIVAN, Associate Judge: This case is before the court on a petition by Neighbors United For a Safer Community ("Neighbors") *fn1 for review of an order of the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment ("the BZA") granting the application of Roy Littlejohn Associates, Inc. ("the applicant") for a special exception *fn2 to operate an adult rehabilitation home *fn3 for female offenders at 2425 Naylor Road, Southeast. *fn4 The special exception was granted pursuant to 11 DCMR § 357 (1991). *fn5

Although this appeal presents numerous issues, only one requires plenary Discussion: that is, whether the BZA, in considering the written reports of the "affected" Advisory Neighborhood Commissions ("ANCs"), *fn6 afforded the ANCs' views the statutorily-required "great weight." *fn7 Our inquiry is two-fold. First, since the proposed adult rehabilitation home would be located on the street which forms the boundary line between ANC 6C and ANC 7B, but on the side which is within the area represented by ANC 6C, we must decide whether ANC 7B is an "affected" ANC whose written recommendations are entitled to "great weight." Second, we must decide whether the BZA gave the requisite "great weight" to ANC 6C's opinions, and, if applicable, to ANC 7B's recommendations as well.

We hold that the BZA's decision "affected" both ANC 6C and ANC 7B and that, therefore, the written reports of both ANC's 6C and 7B were entitled to "great weight." We hold further that the BZA failed to give "great weight" to the views of either of the affected ANCs. Accordingly, we reverse the BZA's order. *fn8

I.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. The Property

The property is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of 25th Street and Naylor Road in Ward Six and is zoned R-5-A. Although it is within Ward Six, it is directly on the boundary line between Wards Six and Seven, with 25th Street as the dividing line. The Ward Six side of the street includes the area represented by ANC 6C, and the Ward Seven side includes the area represented by ANC 7B. The R-5-A zoning classification "permits multiple-unit residential land use." *fn9

The property is improved by a three-story plus basement, red-brick, fourteen-unit apartment building, thirteen of which have two bedrooms. The building is part of a neighborhood characterized predominantly by single-family, detached and semi-detached homes, and low-rise multi-family apartment buildings. The neighborhood is a racially-mixed, stable, middle-class neighborhood, with many owner-occupied homes and many long-term residents.

The property is abutted by a church and is located across the street from an elementary school. There are a total of six churches and four schools located within a half-mile radius of the property. There are also numerous community-based residential facilities located within the areas represented by ANCs 6C and 7B.

B. The Application for Special Exception

The application for special exception was made pursuant to a ruling by the Chief of the Zoning Review Branch, who disapproved an application for a certificate of occupancy to use the premises as an adult rehabilitation home for sixty women. The Chief's ruling directed the applicant to request instead the special exception adult rehabilitation home and a variance to permit sixty women plus rotating staff rather than the maximum of twenty allowed by the regulation. Although the BZA granted the special exception, it denied the variance. *fn10 No petition for review of the BZA's denial of the request for variance has been filed in this court. Thus, only the ruling of the BZA granting the application for a special exception is before this court on appeal.

C. The Views of ANCs 6C and 7B

Both ANCs 6C and 7B received notices dated May 1, 1990, from the District Government, informing them of the filing of the application for special ...


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