- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Communities in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia may soon have more input into commercial development around Metrorail stations.
After a year of study, the Metro Ad Hoc Committee on Joint Development issued a report last Thursday calling for new development policies.
"We're now having community involvement at the conception of the project," says Metro Board member Jim Graham, also a member of the D.C. Council. "It is absolutely essential that community residents have knowledge of, and input to, proposed transit oriented development projects."
He says it would not paralyze development.
The plan requires Metro to contact local jurisdictions when businesses ask for space at Metro stations. Potential developers would have to meet with residents to share information when they submit proposals to Metro.
Environmental groups have been demanding more development tied to Metro stations for years, hoping if people could live and shop near transit, they would use cars less or even get rid of them.
Stewart Schwartz, a spokesman for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, says Metro is taking a good step to bring "walkable development" to the stations.
"This area has acres and acres of undeveloped land at its Metro stations," Mr. Schwartz says. "Involving the community early could help create better designs."
Cheryl Cort of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation calls the new measures progress, but says Metro still needs to hire planners to help them take a more proactive role in bringing appropriate development within walking distance of the train stations.
One of the goals is to establish more affordable housing near stations.
"Anyone of modest means can't live anywhere near the Metro, and they are the ones who need it the most," says Metro Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, who is also chairman of the Arlington County Board.
Metro's Joint Development Subcommittee will recommend the full Metro Board adopt the new guidelines.


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