- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

Outgoing D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday introduced a sweeping overhaul of the city’s development plan — the first such revision since it was adopted in 1984.

“This plan takes our city forward with clear action and policies and priorities for District citizens and residents,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s a road map for the new mayor and council, so they can hit the ground running, attacking some of the major challenges facing our city without having to reinvent the wheel.”

The new plan will be presented today to the D.C. Council for public hearings. The mayor has asked the council to vote on it before he leaves office in January.

The multibillion-dollar comprehensive plan guides all economic, transportation and park development in the District. It is divided into 13 categories, such as transportation and housing, and 10 development areas, such as Mid-City and Capitol Hill.

The sections on the development areas give specific directives for those locations. For example, the Mid-City section examines that area’s history while detailing how and where to focus economic, cultural and recreational development.

Under the proposed plan, officials expect to gain 125,000 jobs and nearly 122,000 residents within 19 years.

On Capitol Hill, the plan calls for a shuttle bus to run between the Eastern Market Metro stop and the Washington Nationals’ planned baseball stadium in Southeast.

Along the Anacostia River waterfront, officials want to improve water quality and promote water recreation while redeveloping the area’s low-income housing. In Far Southeast/Southwest, officials propose rezoning to allow for more housing.

The development areas are one of the new features of the proposed plan, as opposed to the 1984 version, which examined the city by ward and alienated some residents.

“The current comprehensive plan isn’t serving our residents and citizens. Much of the adopted comprehensive plan is more than 20 years old. It doesn’t address, in my estimation, many of the pressing issues that our city faces today — for example, housing affordability, homeland security, gentrification,” Mr. Williams said. “We need a new plan adopted this year, and I don’t think our citizens and residents should have to wait any longer.”

The Williams administration has been working on the plan for two years, officials said.

Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 council member who is the Democratic nominee for mayor, has said he wants more community input on the plan before implementing it.

It was not clear yesterday whether Mr. Fenty would support the plan. A spokesman said Mr. Fenty is on vacation and will not attend the public hearing.

The mayor can propose changes or amendments to the plan at any time, even if it is approved before his or her term begins.

Officials said the comprehensive plan project likely will cost billions of dollars as it is implemented.

There is no time limit for putting the plan into effect, they said.

“Really it’s billions of dollars of public investment that’s going on now and will continue to go on for the life of the plan,” said Michelle L. Pourciau, acting director of the District Department of Transportation.

The comprehensive plan likely is the last major project that Mr. Williams will present before he leaves office and a new mayor, council chairman and three new council members step in.

Officials yesterday said it is important that the council adopt the plan before the changeover. They said the current council is familiar with the contents of the plan.

Allowing several new council members and a new mayor to tackle the project likely would delay its implementation by several years, D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said.

“If the council does not take action on this, it could be that it could be another four years with the city dealing with an outdated system,” Mrs. Cropp said. “The members that are involved in this are members that have been involved for the past several years … the time is for us to act now.”

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