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District of Columbia Comprehensive PLan Act of 1984 Land Use Amendment Act Emergency Declaration Resolution of 1998
PR 12-1051

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Chairman Linda W. Cropp at the request of the Mayor


To declare the existence of an emergency with respect to the need to exempt from zoning the government's use of a portion of the east campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital as a facility to  send and receive 911 emergency communications.

RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this resolution may be cited as the "District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan Act of 1984 Land Use Amendment Act Emergency 16 Declaration Resolution of 1998".

Sec. 2. (a) The Council of the District of Columbia, on December 27, 1996, approved a multi-year contract to design, fabricate, and implement an 800 MHz trunk digital radio 911 emergency communications system to be operated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services ("DFEMS") (Council Resolution, effective December 27, 1996 (Res: 11-687; 43 DCR 6874)).

(b) As a consequence of the Council action, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") extended the District's authority to use eight 800 MHz frequencies until December 31, 1998. This was at least the fourth extension granted for these frequencies since 1984.

(c) The bunked system described in the approved contract required four transmission sites, one in each quadrant of the City. The contract identified the transmission site for the 5 Southeast quadrant as the former site of the United States Naval 6 Air Station communications facility located on the northeast corner of the east campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital. The transmission site, as described in the contract, would consist of a base station, a 250 foot tower, and an antenna array. The FCC has approved only the use of this site for the Southeast quadrant component of the DFEMS system.

(d) In November, 1996, the Office of Emergency Preparedness ("OEP") received funding authority to implement its own trunked 800 MHz system using an additional 18 frequencies allocated to the District in 1984 and 1985. However, on November 28, 1987, the FCC ordered the District to relinquish 10 of these frequencies to Howard County, Maryland, as a condition for a further extension to complete the system by May 31, 1998.

(e) Although OEP completed construction of its system in time to meet the FCC deadline, the loss of the 10 frequencies severely limited the system's capabilities. Similar limitations will apply to DFEMS's planned eight channel system. The two agencies therefore agreed to combine their allocated frequencies to create a 16 channel trunked system. A design for the combined system was recently completed. On September 9, 1998, ANC 8A was formally advised of the proposed construction of the St. Elizabeths' emergency communications facility.

(f) The District's authority to use the eight DFEMS frequencies will expire if the combined system is not operational by December 31, 1998. In order to meet this FCC-imposed deadline, construction on the St. Elizabeths site must commence by mid-October, 1998. Although the site was never zoned because of the prior federal government use, this exemption from zoning cannot extend to the proposed District government use without an act of Council. Without an immediate exemption from zoning, construction cannot begin in time to complete the system by December 31, 1998. A further extension of the FCC deadline is unlikely in view of the number of years the frequencies have gone unused, the number of extensions already granted, and the probability that neighboring jurisdictions will claim a need for these frequencies.

Sec. 3. The Council of the District of Columbia determines that the circumstances enumerated in Section 2 constitute emergency circumstances, making it necessary that the "District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan Act of 1984 Land Use Amendment Act of 1998" be adopted after a single reading.

Sec. 4. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

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