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At the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Sept. 17, a three-judge panel considered whether to let stand an injunction that blocks the city from moving forward with a plan to open a tour bus depot in the District’s Ivy City neighborhood.

City Mayor Vincent Gray and the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USDC) are seeking to move forward with the project, which would open a newly renovated parking facility at the historic Alexander Crummell School as a depot serving up to 65 tour buses at one time.

Neighborhood activists, who say they worry about the pollution and traffic the depot could bring to the area, are fighting the plan. They say they would like to see the school redeveloped as a community center.

In December, Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso issued an injunction blocking the depot project, finding city officials had not consulted with Ivy City’s ANC or conducted a required environmental review.

The city appealed the decision and at the Sept 17 hearing, Senior Assistant Attorney General James C. McKay, Jr said the Ivy City advocates had not demonstrated that the project would cause them actual harm. He also argued that the city should not have been required to do an environmental review because the use of the property is not really changing.

“It was a parking lot, it still is a parking lot,” explained McKay.

During the hearing Chief Judge Eric Washington, along with Judges Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and Stuart G. Nash questioned every aspect of McKay’s argument.

After listening, Ivy City counsel Johnny Barnes suggested he would not have to say a word to make his case. But Chief Judge Washington cautioned him not to get too comfortable and the panel strenuously questioned him as well.

City officials say the city has begun the required environmental review and it is expected to be completed within the month.

But Ivy City advocates hold out hope the court of appeals may rule in their favor. Barnes said he expects a decision in about three months.

An October status hearing on the injunction is expected to be delayed pending the appeals court decision.