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Gladden v. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

659 A.2d 249 (1995)

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Gladden v. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

659 A.2d 249 (1995)

Facts

A property owner within the District of Columbia applied to the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) (defendant) for a special exception from the city’s zoning ordinances to establish a youth rehabilitation home on his property. The property owner planned to lease the property to Gateway Youth Home Educational Designs, Inc. (Gateway). Gateway planned to operate the home as a residential rehabilitation program for 10 youths, ages 13-19. The residents would go to school during the day, receive counseling and mental health services on the property, and return to their families on the weekends. Gateway operated three other rehabilitation homes. The BZA held a hearing and heard testimony from the Neighborhood Advisory Commission and neighbors to the proposed rehabilitation home who opposed the exception (plaintiffs). Neighborhood Advisory Commission presented evidence that there were 21 group homes within the Ward, five of which were within five blocks of the one being proposed. Neighbors testified that the area was a high-crime area and that there were too many group homes already in the area. There was also evidence that Gateway’s abscondence rate was 38 percent at its other facilities, and that those youths who leave the facility run as far as possible away from the facility. The BZA granted the special exception, finding: (1) that there would be no adverse effect on the neighborhood; and (2) even though there were a number of similar group homes in the area, the BZA was bound by the zoning regulations that allow approval of a group home as long as it was not within 500 feet of another. The neighbors filed a lawsuit challenging the BZA’s approval of the special exception.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kern, J.)

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