Norton Introduces D.C. Zoning Commission Home Rule Act, Would Remove Federal Officials from Commission
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Norton Introduces D.C. Zoning Commission Home Rule Act, Would Remove Federal Officials from Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced the District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act, which would remove the Architect of the Capitol and the Director of the National Park Service from the Commission.  Currently, the Commission consists of these two federal officials and three mayoral appointees, even though the Commission has no authority over federal property.  Despite the D.C. Home Rule Act, which gave D.C. jurisdiction over local matters, 40 percent of the members of the Commission are federal officials, who are unaccountable to the more than 700,000 residents who live in the District.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

“This bill is an essential step to increase home rule in the District of Columbia,” Norton said.  “Land use is a basic local matter.  The federal government loses nothing because the interests of the federal government in land use in the nation’s capital are protected by federal law.”

The Commission creates the zoning maps and regulations, which must “not be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan for the national capital.”  The mayor is responsible for the local elements of the comprehensive plan, subject to Council approval.  The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), which is the central federal planning agency for the federal government in D.C. and approves federal projects here, is responsible for the federal elements of the comprehensive plan.  This bill would not alter the comprehensive plan process nor the authority of NCPC and the Commission.

This bill is the seventh in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. series and is one of four bills she will introduce to give D.C. more control over local land use policies.  The other bills already introduced in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. series are listed below.

  • The District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 735) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  • The District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Home Rule Act (H.R. 917) would allow the District to prosecute all crimes committed under its local laws.  Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District prosecutes almost all crimes committed by adults under local D.C. law.
  • The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 1090) would give the D.C. Mayor the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard for local matters.  Unlike governors of the states, and even territories, the District’s chief executive officer has no authority over its local Guard.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act (H.R. 1378) would give the District exclusive authority, like the states and territories, to grant clemency to offenders convicted under its local laws.  Currently, this authority is exercised in D.C. by the President.
  • A bill to require the Library of Congress to install the District of Columbia seal in the Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (H.R. 1318).  Currently, the stained-glass windows contain the seals of all states and territories that existed when the building was constructed, except for the D.C. seal, which was readily available at the time and should have been depicted.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1408) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.

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