John Freedman 0

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Recommendations

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To the Montgomery County Council:

We understand the County Council is currently considering the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan. As you consider the Plan, we urge you to do three things:

1. Stage development to assure parks, schools and traffic are in balance with growth.

2. Mitigate the impact on nearby residential neighborhoods.

  • Ensure development near those neighborhoods is compatible in use with residential areas.
  • Ensure there are appropriate transitions from the central business district to the neighborhoods.
  • Provide for a Greenway where appropriate that provides a meaningful transition space.
  • Ensure that there is ample open space in downtown Bethesda, including dedicating the existing county owned surface parking lots to open space and parks.

3. Focus tall buildings near Metro and not at the edges. There are plenty of properties away from residential areas where large buildings can be constructed, and there is no need to site any properties that will degrade the quality of life in residential neighborhoods. At a minimum, the heights given to the following projects should be substantially reduced:

  • The Jaffe Tower (6801 to 6807 Wisconsin): At 145 feet, this project is too big for the southeastern corner of the Plan area and far taller than the Planning Department recommendation for the site and anything else in the area.
  • 7201 Wisconsin Avenue: At 200 feet, this project will cast the Farm Women’s Market and proposed park in shadows for much of the day.
  • The Cheltenham Canyon (7725-7845 Wisconsin): At 250 feet, these buildings are too tall and will create a canyon effect both on Cheltenham Drive and with the towers across Wisconsin Avenue.
  • 7900-8000 blocks of Wisconsin Avenue: At 145-200 feet, these buildings are far taller than the Planning Department recommendation for these sites. These buildings will create a canyon effect across Wisconsin Avenue.
  • 4400-4424 Montgomery Avenue: At 120-145 feet, these buildings will tower over Elm Street residences and create a canyon with the commercial office buildings across Montgomery Avenue.

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