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Watergate West, Inc. v. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Watergate West sued George Washington University for using a nearby hotel as a dormitory because the District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan was instituted to relieve pressure from the housing market outside of the campus.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Zoning officials may determine that the conversion of a hotel into a dormitory doesn’t reduce the availability of residential housing.

    Facts.

    The District of Columbia (DC) entered the DC Comprehensive Plan (Plan) in the early 1980s, requiring George Washington University (GW) to continue to make dormitories to relieve pressure on the housing market outside of the campus. The DC Zoning Commission (Commission) was responsible for making sure the Plan was being carried out. GW received approval to use the hotel as a dormitory from the Zoning Administrator in 1999. Watergate West sued George Washington University for using a nearby hotel as a dormitory because the District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan was instituted to relieve pressure from the housing market outside of the campus. The DC Board of Zoning Adjustment ruled against Watergate.

    Issue.

    Whether zoning officials may find that the conversion of a hotel into a dormitory doesn’t reduce the availability of residential housing?

    Held.

    Yes. The DC Board of Zoning Adjustment’s judgment is affirmed. The hotel’s conversion into a dormitory had no effect on the residential housing stock because the building was never permanent residential housing.

    Discussion.

    Zoning officials may determine that the conversion of a hotel into a dormitory doesn’t reduce the availability of residential housing.


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