Tag Archives: westover place

Local

Arguing the sand from under their homes

The strongest criticism to American University’s East Campus project has come from some neighbors in the adjacent Westover Place private community. Their case against the plan, however, is eroded by a development fight thirty-six years ago, where their own homes were the development threatening to spoil Northwest’s character.

Just as some residents are fighting the potential of AU’s campus expansion, so too did an earlier generation fight the development of the parcels that abut the five-acre parking lot that AU wants to turn into a leafy complex of low-rise residential buildings.

A substantial amount of opposition has arisen in Westover Place, a gated complex of rowhouses between Massachusetts Avenue and Foxhall Road. They have been the most vocal and ANC 3D meetings, insisted that AU build its buildings next to other people’s homes, and it was the meeting point of this summer’s traffic protest.

But in 1977, it was the threat of Westover Place that was vexing locals. According to a September 25th, 1977 Washington Post article: “And to the north of this, adjacent to the 5-acre university parking lot, Kettler Brothers Inc., the giant development company that built Montgomery Village, has already cleared more than eight acres where 149 town houses will be constructed. Houses in this development, Westover Place, will sell from about $135,000.”

In the article, entitled “Bulldozers at the Estates,” Phil McCombs reports on arguments and characters not unlike the current fights over American University’s expansion and other developments in the area. Just as before, opponents are appealing to a right of first arrival, but the article lays bare the hypocrisy in living in a development while fighting a development because it will have the same effects your house did. The rowhouses of Westover Place and similar developments paved over Northwest’s last open spaces that seemed so essential to the “rural” character of piedmont Washington.

Similarly to the opposition to the 1960 Tenley Library and the 1941 Sears Roebuck, an enormous to-do was made over the development and yet both became established elements of the community. At that time, however, the changes seemed signified the end of something unique. McCombs quotes the ANC3 Commissioner Polly Shackelton bemoaning the change:

“Here you have these fine established residential neighborhoods, which will be impacted with increased density and traffic and all kinds of things that really could be very damaging,” she said. “I think in a way it’s too bad we don’t have a comprehensive plan.”

She said that development of the Rockefeller estate, for example, “will be devastating because Foxhall Road is already crowded. With 100 new houses there, I don’t know how we’ll deal with it.”

The problematic idea here is “establishment:” that because a neighborhood has reached any level of development, it should be maintained as it is. Are the current residents who now enjoy this property more justified than their neighbors who lived there in 1977, or estate owners who lived there in 1917?

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Local

“Stop AU” Protest Tomorrow, Parking Provided

Westover Place residents will be protesting the presence of pedestrians at Ward circle Thursday morning during rush hour. But I don’t want to speak for them. Here’s the call to arms they left on the AU Park Listserv:

TRAFFIC IMPACT DEMONSTRATION

A coalition of neighbors surrounding American University will be gathering
together this Thursday morning, May 26th from 8:30 am to 9:00 am to walk around
Ward Circle, crossing Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues several times to
physically demonstrate the impact 600 or 700 students will have on traffic, if
AU puts the number of beds it wants on the Nebraska Avenue parking lot.

Almost 21,000 vehicles use Mass. Ave. daily and about 24,500 use Nebraska. And
yet, AU’s flawed traffic study, which they are presenting to the Zoning Office
to get approval for their beds, claims that adding to the pedestrian traffic
load will have no impact on traffic at the circle.

Help us show the city AU is wrong.

If we can get a large number of residents to walk around the circle several
times, wearing buttons that say “Stop the AU Campus Plan” and have a couple
more stationed on the sidewalk with signs that say “AU Plan Causes Gridlock”
“Honk if You Hate Gridlock” and put large “Stop the AU Campus Plan” in the
center of the Circle, our case will be self evident. Everyone will see
firsthand the traffic gridlock and noise pollution that will result if AU gets
its way.

We need your commitment now. Join with your friends and neighbors to really do
something to get our plight noticed and have a little fun. We’re not just paying
lawyers to make studied arguments. We’re standing up for ourselves and using
our feet to fight for our neighborhoods!

We’re meeting just inside the gate of Westover Place, in the front courtyard of
4300 Massachusetts Ave, behind the guardhouse at 8:30 Pick up your buttons and
those of you who want signs can get them. Then we’ll go up to the Circle and
cross the street.

The guard at the gate will be alerted. Secret Code is “Stop AU”. There are
several guest parking spaces behind the Mass. Ave. wall which will work if we
all carpool.

Yep, the issues here do seem pretty self evident. So, if you’re in the area, think about talking to the poor folks. But just do mind to not inconvenience drivers. It’s their street.