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On Petition for Review of a Decision of the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment

Argued February 5, 2002

The District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment (the Board or the BZA) granted an application for a special exception filed by the Field School and The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, permitting establishment of a private school on property occupied by the Cafritz House, a residence on Foxhall Road, Northwest. In considering the application, the principal issue the Board had to contend with was the acknowledged risk that location of the Field School on Foxhall Road would impair traffic safety on that north-south roadway, specifically on a portion the Board described as “narrow, curved, and hilly, with poor visibility.” Petitioners, who are coalitions of property owners residing near the proposed school site, raise substantive and procedural challenges to the Board’s decision granting the special exception. They contend, in summary, that the Board failed to give the required “great weight” to the opposition filed by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC); that in finding the proposed school use in harmony with the zoning regulations and that it would not “become objectionable to . . . nearby property” because of traffic and other conditions, the Board paid insufficient attention to national highway design standards and otherwise failed to articulate its reasons clearly; and that the Board’s inadvertent failure to record a portion of the evidentiary hearing resulted in the de facto “disqualification” of two votes – leaving less than the required majority – in favor of the application. After considering each of these contentions, we affirm the Board’s decision.

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