Georgetown overcame another hurdle in the development of two of its most ambitious campus construction projects Monday after the D.C. Zoning Commission approved the university’s plans for the Multi-Sport Facility and new business school center.

The ruling, with four members voting in favor and one against, came after a relatively brief hearing. It clears the way for the university to proceed with construction on the new McDonough School of Business Center and the second phase of the Multi-Sport Facility.

“In terms of zoning, this is the final step,” aureen Dwyer, the university’s zoning council, said.

The decision came amidst opposition from members of the Citizens Association of Georgetown who expressed concern over the impact the construction will have on various aspects of community life.

University Architect Alan Brangman said that Georgetown must now complete construction drawings, secure final approval from the D.C. Commission of Fine Arts and the Old Georgetown Board, and obtain a building permit before proceeding with construction on either of the projects.

“We are very happy with the Zoning Commission approval,” Brangman said.

Plans for the proposed 172,000-square foot MSB Center call for classrooms, study areas, faculty offices and a 400-seat auditorium. The university expects to begin construction on the foundation and planned underground parking garage in the spring, and the center may be completed by the fall of 2008.

Original architectural designs for the project are currently being transformed into the construction documents that contractors will use to build the approximately $82.5 million facility.

The MSB Center will be located in the western half of Lot T and border the already partially-converted Multi-Sport Facility to the north.

The second phase of the MSF will complement the addition of an artificial turf field and partial fence, transforming it into a 4,500-seat athletic venue.

Members of the Citizens Association of Georgetown spoke in opposition to the proposal at the hearing because they said was concerned that a larger stadium may host large-scale events such as rock concerts.

Such large-scale commercial use could “be a source of an undue impact on the surrounding residential community,” CAG attorney Richard Hinds said. Such use could lead to significant problems with traffic, noise pollution, violence and vandalism, he added.

Hinds also said that the construction of both the MSB center and the MSF would produce heavy construction traffic in the Georgetown area. He requested that all traffic for these venues be restricted to the university’s Canal Road entrance, which Dwyer said the university had already agreed to.

Despite CAG’s request that Georgetown’s application only be approved subject to traffic and usage restrictions, the panel voted to uphold it as written.

Although there is a 30-day appeal period for the D.C. Zoning Commission’s ruling, Dwyer said that she expects the commission’s decision to stand.

“There was a good amount of support for the project,” she said.

CAG currently has an ongoing appeal before the D.C. Court of Appeals regarding the MSF’s commercial use.

A provision in Georgetown’s original zoning plans restricted the facility from hosting non-university events aimed at revenue generation, but this provision was eliminated in June by the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment. CAG has appealed the elimination of the provision as well as other provisions in the plan.

While the Court of Appeal’s pending decision could restrict the usage of the MSF, Dwyer said that it would not affect the facility’s design.

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