FRIENDS OF MCMILLAN PARK and DC for Reasonable Development, Petitioners,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ZONING COMMISSION, Respondent and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and Vision McMillan Partners, LLC, Intervenors.
January 22, 2019
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Petitions for Review of an Order of the District of Columbia
Zoning Commission, (ZC Case No. 13-14)
C. Ferster, Washington, for petitioner Friends of McMillan
Theresa, Washington, for petitioner DC for Reasonable
T. Evans, with whom Mary Carolyn Brown and Cynthia A.
Gierhart, Washington, were on the brief, for intervenor
Vision McMillan Partners, LLC.
S. Van Zile, Deputy Solicitor General, with whom Natalie O.
Ludaway, Washington, Chief Deputy Attorney General, and James
C. McKay, Jr., Senior Assistant Attorney General, were on the
brief, for intervenor Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic
Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Loren
L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, and Richard S. Love,
Washington, Senior Assistant Attorney General, filed a
statement in lieu of brief for respondent District of
Columbia Zoning Commission.
Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge, McLeese, Associate Judge, and
RUIZ, Senior Judge.
Vision McMillan Partners, LLC (VMP) seeks to develop a large
parcel of land located on the McMillan Reservoir and
Filtration Complex. In 2016, this court vacated an order by
the Zoning Commission approving VMPs application for a
planned unit development (PUD) on the site. Friends of
McMillan Park v. District of Columbia Zoning Commn (FOMP I),
149 A.3d 1027 (D.C. 2016). On remand, the Commission approved
VMPs slightly revised PUD application. Petitioners Friends
of McMillan Park (FOMP) and DC for Reasonable Development
(DC4RD) challenge the Commissions order. We affirm.
discussed in FOMP I, the McMillan Reservoir and
Filtration Complex is listed in the D.C. Inventory of
Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.
The filtration plant on the site, which used sand to filter
drinking water, was constructed in the early 1900s by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has not been operational
since the 1980s. The roughly 25-acre site is rectangular and
covers roughly three city blocks. It is crossed by two paved
service courts that divide it into three grass-covered open
spaces. Each service court contains ten cylindrical
structures historically used for sand storage as well as
portals and ramps that provide access to subterranean
water-filtration cells. Stairs at the corners of the site
lead up to a pedestrian path around the perimeter. The
landscaping on the site was originally designed by noted
landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
seeks to construct a number of buildings as part of the
proposed PUD and to subdivide the site into seven development
parcels. Parcel 1, at the north end of the site, is the
intended location for a 113-foot-tall medical building.
Parcel 6, at the south end, is to be an eight-acre park that
includes 6.2 acres of green space and a community-center
building. Parcel 7, immediately south of Parcel 1, is to
retained and restored historic resources located in the North
Service Court. The remaining parcels are to be developed
through a combination of mixed-use residential and commercial
buildings, one devoted in part to healthcare uses, as well as
approximately 146 individual row houses. Altogether, the PUD
would create approximately 677 units of new housing. The
proposed PUD would preserve and restore a number of the
sites above-ground resources, including the regulator
houses, sand storage bins, some portals, and the perimeter
path. It would require demolition, however, of a number of
portals and of all but two of the remaining subterranean
vacated the Commissions earlier approval of VMPs proposed
PUD in part because we concluded that the PUD contemplated
some high-density development -- specifically, the 115-foot
medical building then planned for Parcel 1 -- and that the
Commission had not adequately explained why the policies
advanced by the proposed PUD could not still be advanced if
development was limited to medium and moderate density.
FOMP I, 149 A.3d at 1033-36. We found that the
Commission had not adequately explained why it had given
greater weight to some policies over others. Id. at
1035. We also found that the Commission had not adequately
addressed a variety of potential adverse impacts of the
project, including environmental problems, gentrification and
displacement, and increased demand for essential public
services. Id. at 1036-38.
remand, the Commission held additional public hearings and
received numerous submissions from the public, the parties,
and District agencies. Ultimately, the Commission granted
VMPs application, as revised, and issued a ninety-six-page
order explaining its decision. The Commission also granted
VMPs request to zone Parcel 1 to the CR Zone District and
approved a 113-foot-tall medical building (rather than the
115-foot-tall medical building approved in the Commissions
must affirm the Commissions order approving the proposed PUD
"so long as (1) [the Commission] has made findings of
fact on each material contested issue; (2) there is
substantial evidence in the record to support each finding;
and (3) [the Commissions] conclusions of law follow
rationally from those findings." Howell v. District
of Columbia Zoning Commn,97 A.3d 579, 581 (D.C. 2014)
(brackets and internal quotation marks omitted). Because the
Commission is an expert body, we generally defer to the
Commissions interpretation of the zoning regulations.
Id. We will not, however, uphold interpretations
that are "plainly erroneous or inconsistent ...