Residents, officials gear up for hearing on Takoma Metro proposed development -- Gazette.Net


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Takoma Park residents and city officials are gearing up to address a June 18 public hearing on the proposal to build apartment units at the Takoma Metro station.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and private firm EYA has sought to build around the station, which is on Cedar Street in Washington, D.C., just over the Takoma Park border, for more than a decade. The latest changes, unveiled last year, call for about 200 apartment units and alterations to the drop-off lot.

The project plans to reconfigure the drop-off lot to reduce metered parking spaces from 141 to 85, add some new spaces for taxis, handicapped drivers and others, and build walking and biking pathways.

The hearing will start at 5 p.m. June 18 at the Takoma Education Campus, 7010 Piney Branch Road, N.W. An information session is at 4:30 p.m.

Some Takoma residents have joined with neighbors in Washington, D.C., to call for more limited development, saying the plan could put in place an apartment complex as high as six or seven stories. EYA plans call for the building to be as high as four stories.

“We are not against development at this site,” Peter Kovar, a resident on Holly Avenue, said during a recent Takoma Park City Council meeting. “But it needs to be right-sized.”

Part of the building could reach 72 feet high, which would not conform with zoning regulations, he said.

Sabrina Eaton, who lives on Eastern Avenue, said the proposed development is too big.

“This will really affect our houses and all Maryland residents who commute,” she said.

A WMATA traffic analysis concluded that the proposed development will add 44 vehicles in the morning peak period and 54 vehicles in the evening peak time. The analysis suggested adding a 100-foot-long right-turn pocket on westbound Carroll Street before Cedar Street and eliminating curbside parking on northbound Piney Branch Road between Dahlia Street and Eastern Avenue.

But that traffic study ignores other area construction and downplays current traffic problems and the impact of adding parking for the new apartment residents while cutting public parking, Kovar said.

Before the Metro station opened in 1978, residents helped stop efforts to rezone the neighborhood for high-density residential and commercial development, according to the website of the residents’ group. EYA initially wanted to build townhomes, but the development firm changed that plan to the apartment units following neighborhood opposition and the Great Recession.

Takoma Park City Councilman Seth Grimes said he would like the council to update the resolution on the proposed Metro project it released last fall.

That resolution says the proposed apartment complex was “more appropriate” than the townhouse development, but it should not have a “negative impact” on adjacent properties and needed to allow for “direct, safe and comfortable paths” for commuters using the station.

The Old Takoma Business Association supports residential development at the Metro station parking lot site but stays out of design issues and has not endorsed a plan, according to a recent letter to WMATA.



kshay@gazette.net