Chevy Chase Lake Update

Councilmember Roger Berliner sent a recent update concerning plans to redevelop the Chevy Chase Lake area.  As you know, we have also been reporting on this issue and advocating on behalf of our community.  Mr. Berliner’s report is a good summary of his activities and the current state-of-play.  We re-print it below.  We encourage you to contact the Council with your thoughts and concerns. -Fritz Hirst, President, RCA Board of Directors

The Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee  (PHED) finished its review of the planning Board’s recommendations last Monday.  The Plan will now go to full Council worksession the morning of Tuesday, July 9th.  You can attend this worksession in person, watch it live on Montgomery County Cable Television, or view it at your convenience on the Council website.

Although I am not a member of the PHED Committee, I attended both worksessions and listened in attentively.  Chair of the Committee, Councilmember Nancy Floreen and Committee Members Councilmembers Elrich and Leventhal discussed the transportation issues surrounding the plan and discussed each property and made recommendations for heights, densities and zoning on each parcel.   I will share a few of their recommendations with you:

Chevy Chase Lake East Shopping Center

The Chevy Chase land Company holds a pre-existing approval to redevelop now under commercial zoning.  The Committee recommended mixed-use zoning on this property with 80 feet maximum heights on the property except the southwestern portion where they recommended a maximum height of 120 feet.  The floor area ratio (FAR) or density  is 2.0.  Rezoning would take place upon adoption of the Sector Plan ( Stage 1).  Planning Board and Council staff’s analysis is that the traffic generated by the new development will be no greater than the development plans previously approved in 2005. 

Newdale Mews

The Committee recommended that this property be rezoned only in Stage 2. In addition, they recommended height of 45 feet and setbacks of a minimum of 35 feet, and buffering/landscaping between the garden apartments and single-family homes..

8401 Connecticut

The Committee recommended Stage 2 zoning with a height of 150 feet on the western portion of the site and 125 feet on the eastern portion of the site and an FAR of 4.0.  This parcel currently houses a 150 foot building that would need to be torn down if redevelopment were to occur.

Chevy Chase Lake West Shopping Center/ /8402 CT

The Committee recommended maximum heights of 70 feet in Stage 2 with and FAR of 1.0.

Loughborough Place Parking Lot

The Committee recommended maximum height of 40 feet with an FAR of 1.0.

HOC Property

The Committee recommended rezoning for residential zoning for Stage 2. This recommendation is for a more recent proposal which reduces the amount of units from 335 as recommended by the Planning Board Draft to 270 units, including a substantial increase in affordable housing units.  The Committee recommendation also limits heights on the eastern portion of the site to 50 feet instead of the 65 feet recommended in the Planning Board Draft Plan (which would result in townhomes instead of garden apartments) and increases the FAR on the western portion of the site from 1.5 FAR to 2.0.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Committee recommended maximum heights of 65 feet and 0.5 FAR for this property in Stage 1.

Transportation Impacts

At my request, staff provided an analysis of the incremental impact of the new development on intersections that will be failing regardless of new development because of the thru traffic traveling down Connecticut Ave.  I felt it was important that the community understand just how much “worse” this development will make the current situation.  Accordingly to our staff, what the numbers tell us is that the new development will add approximately 5 seconds of delay.  However, staff is recommending a series of improvements to the road network that would have to be accomplished (and paid for by the developers)  for the developments to move forward.  Those improvements would reduce the travel time by considerably more time than any potential development would add.  In other words, based on our staff’s analysis, from a traffic perspective only, having the developers pay for the improvements more than offsets the added traffic it would generate. 

I have met with many members of the Chevy Chase community as well as several of the land owners in the sector plan and am weighing all the arguments carefully as we approach the full Council session on July 9th.  Central to my deliberations are two questions: 1) What are the policy goals of this plan and how can we best achieve them? and 2) How can we achieve those goals while respecting the character of the community and enhancing the quality of life for the existing neighborhoods?  In addition, I have been conversing with our professional staff about issues like economic viability, traffic mitigation strategies, and public amenities.  Last week, I sent thefollowing memo to our Council staff seeking clarification on some issues central to my decision making on this plan.  Take a look.

Before the worksession, I encourage you to express your views with me and my colleagues.  It is never too late to weigh in.  In the meantime, I will continue to do my due diligence on this sector plan.  I am just one councilmember of nine, but I promise you that my votes on this plan will be well-researched and carefully considered.  

For more details, you can review the Planning Board Draft and/or refer to the June 17  and June 24 Council Staff packets. 

Best regards,

Roger Berliner

Councilmember, District 1

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