July 9, 2013 — County Council Worksession
The full Montgomery County Council holds is holding a worksession on the draft Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan. This is the full Council’s first opportunity to comment upon and make changes to the plan. Please see RCA’s letter to the Council outlining key issues and concerns.
The Rollingwood Citizens Association has remained actively engaged in the planning process for redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake. We have advocated on behalf of our individual neighborhood concerns as well as through membership in the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee (CACC). The CACC is the coalition of “inside-the-beltway-communities” along Connecticut Avenue that was formed to speak with a unified voice.
This week, the Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee met again to discuss how to proceed with the Chevy Chase Lake redevelopment. Overall significant progress has been made, but the work isn’t complete.
There is much to be pleased about and some things to continue to worry about. Areas of disagreement include the phasing of the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) property along Chevy Chase Lake Drive, the height of their tall building and the building of a new road connecting Manor Road to Chevy Chase Lake Drive, and the Chevy Chase Land Company’s 120 foot building in in Phase 1 prior to Purple Line construction.
At this point, RCA residents who are interested in this project should contact the County Council directly. Messages should be sent to the entire Council, our local District 1 Councilmember, and to RCA at these addresses:
The full Council will be taking up the discussion on July 9nd and this will be the final substantive review of the proposed plan. Therefore, comments should be provided by July 4th or 5th.
Even for those of us who have been deeply involved in the process, we recognize that Chevy Chase Lake issues are complex and numerous. At the same time, any and all comments to the County Council are welcome and encouraged. We have been asked that comments to the Councilmembers be simple and to the point.
Some of the key actions taken by the Council’s PHED Committee are listed below:
1) Retention of the two section map amendments (a two phased approach).
2) Reduction of the Phase I Chevy Chase Lake 150 foot building to 120 feet (down from the Land Company’s proposed 130 “compromise”).
3) Change for Newdale Mews to 45 feet and only Phase II.
4) Acceptance of the HOC’s new proposal which includes overall reductions in property densities and heights on the eastern portion of property, the continuation of the new road from the Chevy Chase Phase I property on the HOC site connecting to Chevy Chase Lake Drive, the addition of a park further to the west of the property. Against the HOC wishes, they voted 2-1 to retain the development in Phase II.
5) Acceptance of the zoning on the Chevy Chase Land Company’s 8401Connecticut Avenue property at a FAR 4.0 and a height of 150 feet.
6) Discussion of traffic: while a few intersection improvements are being contemplated, the real way they plan to address the issue is to just raise the bar for “failing”.
RCA Comments on Draft Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan
The Sector Plan proposes major redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake on both sides of Connecticut Avenue. Redevelopment presents both opportunities and challenges. The project will provide neighborhood-serving retail opportunities, new housing options, open space, and other amenities. At the same time, Connecticut Avenue is already highly congested, neighborhood schools are over-crowded, and overly-large buildings could overwhelm the residential character of the Chevy Chase Lake area. Achieving proper balance is key to compatible growth.
Throughout the planning process, RCA has worked closely with our neighbors to communicate community concerns. In general, neighboring communities support a development of moderate scale in two phases. Phase One would involve smaller-scale development of the shopping center at Chevy Chase Lake East. The larger development would occur in Phase Two once there is certainly with respect to the Purple Line. Because Rollingwood is somewhat separated from Chevy Chase Lake, RCA also supports amenities providing greater connectivity to our community. RCA’s full comments are posted here.
At the direction of the County Council, the County Planning Board is updating the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan. This review will likely result in major changes in permitted residential and commercial density as well as traffic.
Current Zoning Conditions: Under the current zoning plan adopted in 1990, there is a potential for 780,449 sq feet of commercial development (office, retail & other) with 518,551 sq feet of that currently built. Similarly, there is a potential for 2,332 dwelling units (single family detached, attached and multi-family) with 1,319 currently built.
Potential Changes: During their review, county government planners will examine both commercial and residential zoning density. It is likely that significant changes will be made to the 1990 plan including far greater densities, taller buildings, and a complete change in the type of retail services offered. Traffic congestion will increase, possibly leading to pressure to widen Connecticut Avenue and other roads. See more detail here.
There are many factors the planners will look at in their review. Some of them include:
- Impact of the Purple Line
- Changes in the type of retail provided
- Increase in types of housing choices
- Need for community open space and other community facilities
- Road widening and other improvements to accommodate BRAC traffic
- Access to the CC Lake area from surrounding communities
- Existing and future congestion on Connecticut Avenue which already has some of the most congested intersections in the County
The planners will be looking at ‘smart growth’ principles and new urban zoning approaches to support significant and far-reaching changes to this area.
This map depicts the areas subject to redevelopment (click to enlarge):
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission have yet to present specific proposals for their properties. The other properties — owned by the Chevy Chase Land Company — will be developed in phases. The residential properties in yellow are expected to be included in a later phase.
Timing: Based on the current schedule, the Park and Planning Staff proposal for the rezoning of Chevy Chase Lake will be presented to the Planning Board in late February or early March. A public hearing will be held by the Planning Board sometime in April with a final plan sent to the County Council in the summer. Additional information can be found at the Planning Board site:
Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee: RCA has joined with twenty-two directly affected communities listed below to form the the “Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee” (CACC) to engage in the planning process and to assure the best possible outcome for the communities surrounding the Chevy Chase Lake.
Issues that this group will be focusing on include:
1) pressure on already congested roadways;
2) the desire to maintain or expand neighborhood-oriented retail; and
3) the amount, nature and placement of any proposed increased density.
Community participation is called for in the planning process. By joining together we hope to amplify our voices and insure that our concerns are heard in a timely and effective manner. As of December 2010 the following municipalities, civic associations, condominiums and others are part of this effort:
Town of Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase Village
The Village of Chevy Chase, Section 3
The Village of Chevy Chase, Section 5
The Village of Martin’s Additions
The Village of North Chevy Chase
Town of Kensington
Rollingwood Citizens Association
Coquelin Run Citizens Association
Chevy Chase Hills Citizens Association
Chevy Chase Valley Citizens Association
East Bethesda Citizens Association
Chevy Chase Section 4B (Edgevale)
Chevy Chase Park Home Owners Association
The Hamlet Citizens Association
Hamlet Place Owners Association
Farmington Hills Citizens Association
Columbia Country Club
Classic Residence VI (8100 Conn Ave)
8101 Connecticut Ave. Condominium Association
Hamlet House Condominium Association
Chevy Chase Mews Condominium Association
What can you do to have a impact on this process? It is important to follow this issue and let our community leaders know your concerns and the concerns of Rollingwood. In particular, there will be critical times for individuals to write in and/or testify. We will let you know when, where and how.