Planning Body Rejects Taller Buildings in D.C.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An influential group is sending a new report to Congress in an effort to change the District's height restrictions for buildings. They don't want to change the skyline in the historic area but would like the chance to add taller buildings in other parts of the city. News4's Tom Sherwood shows us what the group wants to see in D.C. (Published Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013)

    A planning body has voted against a recommendation that taller buildings be allowed in parts of Washington outside the downtown core.

    Buildings in the District of Columbia are generally required to be no taller than the width of the streets they face. Congress asked the National Capital Planning Commission last year to look at possible changes to the more than 100-year-old law.

    The commission is an influential group of federal and city officials who hope to change the height restrictions of D.C., which currently sits at a 130-feet maximum for commercial streets.

    "Congress is certainly going to have to act on this," D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning said.

    However, the commission voted Tuesday evening to remove language from a staff report that said the law should be changed for portions of the city outside the historic core. The vote makes it unlikely that Congress will consider significant changes to the law.

    The proposal, which will be sent to Congress and Rep. Darrell Issa, stresses that the original footprint of the Capitol will bear no significant changes. In the rest of the city, only “targeted areas” would be considered for higher buildings.

    More than 40 people signed up to comment on the wide-ranging proposals for change, including whether downtown buildings should be allowed to have expensive penthouse residences and amenities that could change the city’s skyline.

    D.C. officials say they want more control of the building heights but don’t want overbearing high-rises either.

    "It's about who gets to decide what our building heights will eventually be," Tregoning said. "Whether we want Congress to make that decision or whether we want the District will decide."

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