Chevy Chase Lake – Summary of January 10 Meeting

On January 10th, the Montgomery County Planning Board held a well-attended community meeting on proposed redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake.  The meeting included presentations by Planning Board staff and the major landowners in the area — Chevy Chase Land Company, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission.  Another community meeting will be held in February, with details to be announced soon.  Below is a summary of the meeting prepared by Pat Burda of the Connecticut Avenue Coordinating Committee.  The Rollingwood Citizens Association will keep you informed of this matter, and we encourage your participation as well.  If you have any questions, please contact Fritz Hirst, RCA President, at fhirst@msn.com.

January 10, 2011: Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan Community Meeting

Sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Department

Presentations by the Planning Board Staff, the Chevy Chase Land Company, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission

Meeting Summary

Over 100 people were in attendance, with standing room only in the back of the room and many watching from a TV screen in the lobby of the building. Facilitators ran the meeting and each group presenting was given 30 minutes to present with 15 minutes set aside for questions for the audience. Questions were to be directed only to the presentations not to make comments about the proposals or to make suggestions for the area.

Planning Board Staff

Elza Hisel-McCoy, project manager for the Sector Plan, gave an overview of the three plans that currently govern the area: Georgetown Branch Master Plan from 1990, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Master Plan also from 1990, and Purple Line Functional Plan which was changed in 2010. He also reviewed the County’s planning process and the specific proposed schedule for this planning process. In response to questions from the audience Elza suggested the next meeting date could be delayed and they would look into holding it at a site closer to the Sector Plan area.

Chevy Chase Land Company

The Chevy Chase Land Company included presentations by four individuals including the President, David Smith, descendent of the founder, Senator Newlands.

• A lengthy history was given of the CCLC and their development along Connecticut Avenue.

• The new plan is focused on “transit oriented development” around the Purple Line Station.

• This will not be a “work- oriented center” like NIH/Naval Med., or downtowns Bethesda and Silver Spring but rather a residential hub primarily providing housing and community-based commerce for those who work in those other locations.

• Parking would be limited and driving to the site discouraged. The Purple Line station would not be a park and ride station but rather a kiss and ride station, yet there would be additional roads created in the area to provide better circulation.

• There are plans to provide interconnectivity for neighboring communities through walkways and parks, particularly in the area south of the current shopping center abutting Coquelin Run.

• An overview of potential build-out land massing was projected on the screen, but no densities or heights were indicated and this plan was not distributed.

• The developers suggested they are still in the conceptual phases of development.

Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission

• Currently, 30% of the HOC units at Chevy Chase Lake reserved for people who make less than $51,750 for a family of four which is the medium income of the area.

• They envision taking advantage of this site’s proximity to transit, perhaps having taller buildings closer to Connecticut Avenue with smaller buildings moving east, closer to neighboring single family residences.

• They would like to increase the supply of mixed use housing to meet employment demands particularly at the Naval Hospital.

In response to a question about alternative planning for the site without a Purple Line since funding for the transit project has not yet been secured, the representative from HOC stated that everything is very conceptual at this stage.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

• HHMI’s representative started her presentation by saying HHMI is not a developer and has just finished a $75 million addition to the property.

• She gave a history of their organization and an overview of their very healthy financial situation.

• She did not discuss any future plans for the property.

An audience member asked if HHMI has future plans to move from the site and sell their parcel and the HHMI rep, while not answering directly, indicated they had just made a huge financial investment to the site suggesting they had no plans to move. Another questioner asked if they would be seeking to change their “special exemption” status for future building. The answer was unclear.

 You may watch the entire meeting by going to: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/chevychaselake/index.shtm. Scroll down to “Past Meetings” and you can click on “View” the Meeting after the January 10th meeting description. You can also download the background packet and other handouts from the meeting. You can also read more about the meeting at: http://www.gazette.net/stories/01122011/kensnew203541_32538.php.

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