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Victory for DC Planned Parenthood: Zoning board calls pro-life appeal ‘a waste of time.’

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire
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Planned Parenthood's new "flagship" abortion center at 1225 4th St. NE. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The three current members of the DC zoning board voted unanimously this morning to dismiss an appeal by pro-life activists for a public hearing about the city’s new Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Planned Parenthood and the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) both filed motions to dismiss the appeal for the public hearing, which was put forward by Diane Conocchioli, on the grounds that it lacked timeliness.

“I don’t believe that it was filed late at all,” responded Conocchioli, who noted that city officials at times ignored protocol by being extremely slow to respond to her emails over the past months.

Conocchioli expressed her concerns that the 27,000-square foot Planned Parenthood abortion center at 1225 4th St. NE was never the subject of a public hearing. The facility is next door to and across the street from Two Rivers Public Charter School.

Board member Robert Miller responded that “it’s a waste of time” to consider the appeal. He made a motion that the zoning board dismiss Conocchioli’s complaint on a technicality that requires appeals be filed 60 days after a building permit is issued. Miller’s two colleagues voted with him to dismiss it.

The vote meant that a number of concerned citizens who came to testify in support of Conocchioli's request for a hearing were unable to present their prepared testimonies. Among those prepared to support Conocchioli was a dad whose children attend Two Rivers Public Charter School, Monsignor Charles Pope of nearby Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish, a number of DC residents, a representative of the Muslim community, a pro-life attorney, and others.

“At the moment of Good Friday, when all seemed lost, that’s when grace broke through,” Msgr. Pope told pro-lifers, who were more than half of the meeting’s attendees, after the dismissal. “I’m disappointed, but I’m also aware that this was a worthy fight, and we stood up and we made a claim."

“To me, this just shows how the DC government operates, how they don’t want to hear the concerns of the citizens,” said Isaiah Burroughs, a commissioner with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and a student at the Catholic University of America. “It makes me question why we’re there as ANC commissioners if organizations like DCRA won’t listen to our concerns.”

He said the ANC would never have approved something as controversial as an abortion facility without input from the community.

“We don’t make any decisions as a commission without listening to concerns even if it takes three hours like our last meeting did,” Burroughs said. “We [want to] hear what everyone has to say; that’s what we’re here for.”

The giant Planned Parenthood officially opened last week with a kickoff party that featured actress Kathleen Turner. According to the Washington Post, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) were also in attendance.

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