Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan behind schedule -- Gazette.Net


The Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan is behind schedule as planning board commissioners continue to discuss details of the controversial development plan.

The sector plan was scheduled to be in the hands of the County Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett in November. But they aren’t likely to have it till January, said Elza Hisel-McCoy, area 1 planner for the Montgomery County Planning Department. He said planning staff would schedule one or two more work sessions to discuss remaining properties, including the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“I regret that we could not finish this in time,” Planning Board Chairman Francoise Carrier said.

At a work session Thursday, commissioners did agree on a few elements in the plan.

The commission favored plans in Chevy Chase Lake Shopping Center for a hotel that could be up to 80 feet tall, but would be limited to 70 feet as a residential building. They also agreed to allow a 150-foot building along the Purple Line, a $1.9 billion, unfunded rail project that would link Bethesda to New Carrollton via Silver Spring.

Planning staff had recommended a two-phase plan for development within the Chevy Chase Lake Sector, and the commission supported the suggestion. The first would maintain current densities but rezone commercial land on Connecticut Avenue for mixed-use. In this phase, 70-foot tall buildings would be permitted in the Chevy Chase Lake Shopping Center, with development limited to 250,000 total square feet.

Funding of the Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line station would trigger the second phase.

Commissioners previously agreed the Chevy Chase Lake Shopping Center could accommodate more density.

The shopping center could accommodate increased density before the Purple Line — without increasing the number of cars on the road beyond what was already approved — by changing the mix of uses, according to planning department documents.

Alternatives include 708 apartments with 120,000 square feet of retail, or a 140-room hotel, about 600 apartments and 120,000 square feet of retail, according to planning department documents. Both options would generate fewer trips than the existing approved mix, according to planning department documents.

Commissioners previously agreed that Newdale Mews, apartments on Newdale Road owned by Newdale Mews Ltd. Partnership, should be allowed to rebuild up to 55 feet. The owner has requested the flexibility to go up to 65 feet, but neighbors have opposed heights beyond 45 feet.

The planning board draft must first be approved by a majority of the board before heading to County Executive Isiah Leggett, who will provide comment, and then the County Council. The council will hold a public hearing before approving a final sector plan. A separate action by the County Council would change the zoning. The zoning process includes additional public hearings.