Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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After more than a year of legal challenges, the DC Court of Appeals ruled Thursday to uphold a local zoning board’s approval of a plan to develop a homeless shelter in Ward 3. The decision paves the way for D.C.’s Department of General Services, the construction and facilities management arm of District government, to begin construction on the site. 

The shelter is one of seven new sites that will open across the city by 2020, and is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s plan to close the D.C. General family shelter this year and replace it with smaller, apartment-style shelters in each ward. 

A group of residents, calling themselves Neighbors for Responsive Government, filed a challenge against the 50-unit shelter at 3320 Idaho Ave. NW in September 2017, arguing that the local advisory neighborhood commission was not included in decisions made about where the shelter would sit or what it would look like. And in August of this year, the same group appealed a building permit issuance related to design modifications of the shelter.

But in his decision, Associate Judge Stephen H. Glickman wrote that the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s August 2017 decision—one that approved DGS’s plans for the shelter site—was “supported by substantial evidence in the record and otherwise in accordance with law.”  

A spokesperson for the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services tells City Paper that the new projected opening date for the Ward 3 shelter is “late 2019 or early 2020,” several months past the initial projected opening date of summer 2019. The spokesperson says the lawsuit is “a contributing factor” to the delay, but did not immediately provide a comment on the nature of the other factors, if any.

The city held ribbon cuttings for the first two shelters, in Wards 4 and 7, this fall. A ribbon cutting for Ward 8’s shelter is expected next month.