Norton Reintroduces Bill to Give D.C. Authority to Appoint All Members of Board that Deals Exclusively with Local D.C. Zoning

Nov 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today reintroduced her bill to give the District of Columbia the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board), except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery. Under current law, in general, the Board consists of a representative of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the D.C. Zoning Commission, each of whom may be a federal official, and three mayoral appointees, subject to D.C. Council approval. The Board has no authority over federal property. 

“Like every other jurisdiction in the United States, the District of Columbia should be free to set its own local land-use policies,” Norton said. “Even without statehood, we can change this leftover anomaly by completing the Home Rule Act. We face local issues, such as a growing population and economic development, that require local solutions. Land-use is a quintessentially local issue. The Board of Zoning Adjustment should be accountable to District residents and local elected officials.”

When the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to the location, expansion, or replacement of a chancery, the Board consists of the Executive Director of NCPC, the Director of the National Park Service (or, if the President so designates, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior or the Administrator of General Services), and the three mayoral appointees. The bill does not change this composition.

Norton has introduced many bills this Congress to reduce the federal government’s control over local District matters and to expand D.C. equality. This bill is the 16th in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. Series:

  1. The Commission of Fine Arts District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 5570) would remove the Commission’s authority over D.C. property and private property in D.C.
  2. The National Capital Planning Commission District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 5144) would remove the authority of the NCPC to review the development of D.C.-owned land.
  3. The District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act (H.R. 5002) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the Commission.
  4. A bill to permit the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of the Mayor of the District (H.R. 4368).
  5. The District of Columbia Clemency Home Rule Act (H.R. 4206) would give the District exclusive authority to grant clemency to offenders convicted under its local laws. 
  6. The District of Columbia Non-Discrimination Home Rule Act of 2021 (H.R. 4023) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.
  7. The District of Columbia Federal Officials Residency Equality Act of 2021 (H.R. 3786) would require certain federal officials who serve the District to live in the District.
  8. The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act District of Columbia Equality Act of 2021 (H.R. 2452) would amend both laws to make D.C. eligible for the same federal funding as the states under both.
  9. The District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Salary Home Rule Act (H.R. 1204) would give D.C. the authority to set the maximum salary for the D.C. CFO.
  10. The District of Columbia Parole and Supervised Release Act (H.R. 658) would give D.C. the authority to make parole and supervised release determinations for D.C. Code offenders.
  11. The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 657) would give the D.C. Mayor the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard. 
  12. The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 656) would eliminate the president’s authority to federalize the local D.C. police department.
  13. The District of Columbia Legislative Autonomy Act (H.R. 411) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  14. The District of Columbia Flood Prevention Act (H.R. 5784) would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA) to include the District of Columbia in the definition of a coastal state and make the District eligible for funding and oversight for federally issued permits, facilities and actions to respond to floods and mitigate flood risk.
  15. The District of Columbia Prosecutor Home Rule Act of 2021 (H.R. 281) would allow the District to prosecute all crimes committed under its local laws. 

Norton’s introductory statement follows.

 

 

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

on the Introduction of the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

Home Rule Act

November 2, 2021

 

Ms. Norton.  Madam Speaker.

Today, I introduce the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment Home Rule Act.  This bill would give the District of Columbia the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board), except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery.  The Board issues special exceptions, or variances, to the regulations issued by the D.C. Zoning Commission (Commission).  This bill does not alter the authority of the Board.

Like every other jurisdiction in the United States, the District should be free to set its own local land-use policies.  As the District continues to contend with rapid population growth and economic development, it is more important than ever that the members of the Board are accountable to District residents and local elected officials.

Under current law, in general, the Board consists of a representative each from the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the Commission, each of whom may be a federal official, and three mayoral appointees, subject to D.C. Council approval.  The Board has no authority over federal property. 

Under current law, when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to the location, expansion or replacement of a chancery, the Board consists of the Executive Director of NCPC, the Director of the National Park Service (or, if the President so designates, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior or the Administrator of General Services), and the three mayoral appointees.  This bill does not change this composition.

This is an important step to recognize and increase home rule for the District, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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