Why Washington DC Can’t Have Nice Things

The Wisconsin Newark Neighbors Coalition (aka history’s greatest monsters) is getting their day in court to block a mixed-use supermarket project:

Last July, the Zoning Commission gave their unanimous approval of the project, to which WNNC responded by filing an appeal, claiming that the Zoning Commission does not have the power under the PUD (zoning change approval) to eliminate a neighborhood commercial zone designation on the subject lots. In short, WNNC objects to the changes incurred in the rewriting of the Comprehensive Plan that was first drafted in 2006 that they perceive will increase height of the project and density of the area.

WNNC wants the city to revise the PUD as a two-stage application, and have asked the court to overturn the Commissions decision to grant the PUD within a neighborhood commercial overlay zone district, in what is a fairly typical zoning decision, claiming the Commission lacked authority.

Note that in addition to the badness on the merits of the goals being advanced (sprawl, lack of affordable housing, lack of job opportunities) here there mere existence of so many hurdles a project needs to clear is a huge deterrent to investing in the District of Columbia. Putting lots of discretion into the system may sound like a good idea, but clear rules are really helpful to making business opportunities attractive.