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Item in The Northwest Current, 2/7/01

Zoning Commission puts off hearing on new antenna rules

Chris Kain

The Zoning Commission has postponed action on new antenna regulations, canceling a hearing on Monday to give time to draft another set of proposed rules.

Commissioners said they intend to hold a roundtable discussion on March 5 on the issue of antenna towers. Afterward, the Office of Planning will prepare proposed regulations for the Zoning Commission to consider.

Representatives of the Stop the Tower Citizens Coalition, which organized to fight the 756-foot antenna tower under construction in Tenleytown, praised the commission's decision. They had complained about inadequate and confusing notice of this week's hearing.

"That's what we were hoping for," said Tenleytown resident Tim Cooper after Zoning Commission chair Anthony Hood made the announcement. "It buys us more time. In some respects, the proposed regulations were going in the right direction. It was really the issue of notice."

Ann Loikow, second vice president of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, agreed.

She said she believes the commissioners understood that the proposed regulations needed more work. The Office of Planning had suggested revisions to its original proposal, but neighborhood activists said that they had not had time to study all of the changes.

"They're understanding that it's more complicated than they thought," Loikow said.

Zoning Commission member Carol Mitten, expected to become chair next week, said in the abbreviated session that the hearing notice did not represent "the full breadth" of the subject.

"Having a roundtable is a good next step," she said.

After the meeting, Hood said that not all of the city's advisory neighborhood commissions received notice of the hearing, as required by law. Amended notices also added to confusion about the precise language under consideration.

"There were some mistakes made. It was not fair to the community folks," said Hood. "With all the mistakes, we thought it best to pull it back."

More than 30 witnesses had signed up to testify on Monday, including officials from American Tower Co., which has gone to court seeking to overturn the District's decision to reverse the permit it had issued.

In addition to leaders of the Stop the Tower Coalition, representatives of the Kalorama Citizens Association, the National Cathedral Neighborhood Association, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and the Shepherd Park advisory neighborhood commission were on the witness list.

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