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Cole v. District of Columbia Zoning Commission

210 A.3d 753 (2019)

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Cole v. District of Columbia Zoning Commission

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

210 A.3d 753 (2019)

Facts

In 2015 the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (the commission) (defendant) received an application for planned-unit development (PUD). The developer submitting the application proposed building a mixed-use residential and retail building. The commission held a hearing on the matter. Sharon Cole (plaintiff) attended to express her concern that the proposed construction would result in the demolition of the building in which she and many senior, disabled, and low-income individuals lived. Cole also expressed concern that the construction would result in heavy traffic and limited parking. The group Equitable and Respectful Reinvestment submitted to the commission its concern that the development would lead to gentrification and the displacement of low-income individuals living in the area. Prior to approving the development, the commission received confirmation from the developer that the construction would neither displace Cole’s building nor other residential buildings in the area. The commission also negotiated with the developer to reserve 50 percent of the building’s residential units for low-income individuals with incomes 50 percent or less of the area’s median income. The commission planned to deem these units as inclusionary zoning units to increase the availability of affordable housing and expand the geographic distribution of affordable housing. The District of Columbia Office of Planning (the office), which oversaw the publicly developed plan for the area in which the building would be developed, confirmed that the development complied with the area’s plan of avoiding concentrated areas of poverty and ensuring that developments encouraged the integration of individuals with very low, low, moderate, and high incomes. The commission approved the PUD application. In response, Cole filed a petition in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals against the commission. Cole argued that the commission had acted arbitrarily by approving the PUD without considering how the development would affect gentrification in the surrounding area. The court reviewed the petition.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thompson, J.)

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