Support the Bethesda Sector Plan Rollbacks
The Montgomery County Planning Board has provisionally approved a 50% increase in building capacity for downtown Bethesda -- from 23 to 35 million square feet. This is far more than necessary to promote smart growth in the area and will exacerbate school overcrowding and traffic congestion. Much of the new development will be at the "edges" of Bethesda far from the Metro station, where it will undermine the quality of life in long-standing, stable neighborhoods.
In response, concerned citizens have requested that the Planning Board rescind zoning decisions made for particular properties -- requests for reconsideration will be considered in May. Collectively, rescinding these zoning decisions will remove up to 4.5 million square feet of density from downtown Bethesda, reducing the overall impact of the sector plan on congestion and school overcrowding and will mitigate the impact of over-development on the surrounding communities.
I support the requests for each of the identified properties to be reconsidered and for the provisionally approved heights to be lowered. In addition, I support lowering the provisionally approved density, and oppose allowing additional density to be transferred to the identified properties that are adjacent to single-family homes.
1. The Jaffe Tower (6801-6807 Wisconsin Avenue): Upzoning this property and allowing a 145 foot building is inappropriate at the southeastern corner of the sector and across the street from single-family homes. This property should remain split zoned.
2. Parking Lots 10 (behind Moby Dick/Don Pollo), 24 (behind the Farm Women's Cooperative Market), 25 (between Maple/Highland) and 44 (behind Benihana): Upzoning these properties and allowing building up to 90 feet is inappropriate across the street from single-family residences. The upzoning would waste of some of the last and largest chances to preserve open space/public park near downtown Bethesda. In addition, Parking Lot 41 (behind Clare Dratch) should also be kept as open space/public park.
3. Garden Plaza Building (7750 Old Georgetown Road): A building of 175 feet is inappropriate across the street from Bethesda Elementary School and its surrounding single-family residential communities.
4. ZOM Mid-Atlantic (7505-7511 Arlington Road & 4816-4910 Moorland Lane): A building of 75 feet is inappropriate across the street from Bethesda Elementary School and its surrounding single-family residential communities.
5. 7201 & 7121 Wisconsin
Avenue: Buildings of 250 and 200 feet on either side of the Farm Women's Market
are too tall and will cast the market and proposed park in permanent shadow.
6. 4508 Walsh Street (the Writer's Center): 90 feet is too tall for a property catacorner from single-family homes.
7. 4400 Montgomery Avenue (Bethesda Sport & Health): 120 feet is too tall for a property that backs onto single-family homes.
8. 4300-4336 Montgomery Avenue: Upzoning these properties will undermine the opportunity to create a significant urban green space.
9. 7301-7313 Wisconsin Avenue (Air Rights Building): 250 feet is too tall for a property that backs onto single family homes, and will create a canyon effect with the Apex building across the street.
10. The Battery Lane Canyon (4857, 4858, 4887/4861, 4890, 4900, 4918-4938, 4949, 4998, and 5015 Battery Lane). 120 feet is too tall for Battery Lane, and allowing buildings of these heights will create a canyon effect on Battery Lane.
11. 4500 Block Avondale Street: The Planning Board has approved increases for these properties significantly higher than the 35 foot recommendation of its professional staff, which are inappropriate for properties that back onto single-family homes.
12. Cheltenham Drive (7725, 7735, 7803, 7809 & 7845 Wisconsin Avenue). 250 feet is too tall north and south of Cheltenham Drive, and allowing buildings of these heights will create a canyon effect both on Cheltenham and with the towers across Wisconsin Avenue.
13. 7900-8000 Block Wisconsin (7901, 7935 & 8001 Wisconsin Avenue). The Planning Board has approved increases for these properties of up to 200 feet, well over the 120 foot recommendation of its professional staff.
14. The Northern Gateway (8401 Wisconsin and 4715-4719 Chestnut): Upzoning these properties and allowing 120 foot buildings is inappropriate at the northeastern corner of the sector and on the same block as single-family homes.