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Congress Seeks Study on Easing D.C. Building Height Limits

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said the National Capital Planning Commission and the D.C. Office of Planning will study possible changes to D.C.'s Height Act of 1910.

Norton, who has always faced a challenge balancing interests in Congress with those in local government, had said she supports exploring Height Act revisions but not without extensive review and consultation with D.C. leaders and constituents.

“The committee’s hearing on the Height Act has opened an entirely new way to see our city and its possibilities,” Norton said in a statement included in Issa’s release. “However, our committee wisely decided that the first study since the Height Act was passed in 1910 is necessary. This study is just the beginning of what will be a complete public process examining the economic and aesthetic consequences of changing a law that has stood for more than 100 years.”

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement that he welcomes “an important and strategic look at height in this city.”

Though Issa has generally supported expanded autonomy for the District of Columbia — including budget autonomy — the Height Act is listed in the D.C. charter as one law that can be amended only by Congress. Other issues the D.C. Council cannot address without Congressional action are imposing a D.C. commuter tax or giving itself statehood and voting rights.

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