Planning staff won't recommend housing units for Chevy Chase
Initial recommendation for Chevy Chase Lake expected this week
Montgomery County planners' recommendation for Chevy Chase development will not mirror the dream plan of the area's primary developer.
Planning staff will not support in its recommendation for Chevy Chase Lake the 3,000 housing units proposed by developer Chevy Chase Land Company, said lead planner Elza Hisel-McCoy. He would not elaborate on the staff's initial recommendation, due out this week, other than to say it will differ from designs presented by the land company.
"We're taking a different approach," Hisel-McCoy said. "There will be some impact, but probably not to that extent."
A new sector plan is in the works for the Chevy Chase Lake area, 380 acres along Connecticut Avenue, as part of an effort to re-evaluate zoning and land use in areas marked as sites for proposed Purple Line light rail stations. The planning staff's final recommendation, expected this fall, will be considered in the planning board's discussion about the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan.
Chevy Chase Land Company, the primary property owner in the area, presented in April a vision for a residential, shopping and entertainment center supported by the proposed Purple Line station. That vision included 3,000 residential units, 1.1 million square feet of office and retail space, and a 150-room hotel in buildings that could reach 19 stories.
Scott DeCain, a principle with Bald Eagle Partners, the land company's development consultant, said he was reluctant to respond to how the land company would move forward because they have not been formally informed of the planning staff's initial recommendation, but said the company stands by its design as one that is consistent with the objectives of smart growth, the Purple Line and transit-oriented development.
"Growth in our county and our area are going to continue and we're firm advocates of smart growth," DeCain said. "We've put in 3,000 housing units are they better there or way farther up Connecticut Avenue or Md.-355, where people will have to get in their cars and drive?"
The land company's vision has been rejected by many residents in the Chevy Chase community, where residents fear more traffic, upscale shopping and tall buildings will damage the neighborhood's character.
Residents have also been wary of how the county will shape the project they cite other developments, White Flint and Friendship Heights, as examples of what they do not want in Chevy Chase.
News of the planning staff's recommendation has given some residents hope that the full recommendation will support their desire for limited development and reinforced other residents' confidence in the planning staff.
"I would expect them to come up with something that would not swamp the community," said Patricia Baptiste, chair of Chevy Chase Village's Board of Managers.
Planning staff will hold a community meeting in June to explain their initial recommendation and to solicit additional community input. The land company is also allowed to comment about the staff's initial recommendation at that meeting, Hisel-McCoy said.
The staff will make their official recommendation to the planning board this fall.
Montgomery County Planning Department staff will hold a community meeting to present their initial recommendations for the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan 10 a.m. to noon June 18, at Chevy Chase Village Hall, 5906 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase. For details call 301-495-2115 or visit www.montgomeryplanning.org