Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hearing to address proposed zoning changes

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A public hearing will be held May 15 on plans to extend Wheaton’s central business district north to include a parcel at the corner of Georgia and Blueridge avenues, just south of the Centex site, and reclassifying the property to the CBD-1 Zone.

The move, which would require an amendment to the 1990 Sector Plan for the Wheaton CBD, would allow the mixed-use development of Avalon Bay on the site of the current BB&T bank building.

Under existing zoning, the County Council blocked the Avalon Bay plan last year because the site did not allow for residential development. Planning staff also say current zoning generally doesn’t allow commercial retail uses.

The CBD-1 zone would allow for mixed-use development. Avalon Bay would include a 383,000-square-foot complex, including no more than 320 housing units and a Safeway grocery store as its first-floor retail anchor.

County planning staff on Thursday recommended approval of the amendment, which would avoid debate over using a zoning text amendment to solve the problem.

Under the CBD-1 zoning, the developer would be allowed to build as high as 60 feet to 90 feet, providing a transition from the heights of as much as 143 feet in the CBD-2 zone south of Blueridge Avenue to the 35-foot limitation in the Centex townhouse community north of the Avalon Bay parcel.

The Montgomery County Planning Board also asked staff on Thursday to consider zoning options for a parcel owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority located on the same block. Recommendations for that property would be part of a comprehensive amendment to the sector plan.