The mayor of the Town of Chevy Chase is using the recent Apex Building redevelopment episode as part of her campaign platform before the Town’s election tomorrow.
In early April, Montgomery County Planning Department interim director Rose Krasnow said a nearby developer had proposed a Minor Master Plan Amendment that would examine razing the Apex Building (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) in exchange for more density in properties extending east along Montgomery Avenue.
The razing of the Apex Building would allow the county and the Maryland Transit Administration to build a Bethesda Purple Line station that would include an underground Capital Crescent Trail crossing of Wisconsin Avenue, which had previously been ruled out.
Town Mayor Pat Burda said she received a call from a County Councilmember about the proposal and immediately intervened, an example of how her experience and relationships can help the Town deal with the development of downtown Bethesda.
The Town of Chevy Chase, a half-square mile area of predominantly single family homes, has historically been wary of development that might encroach. At a candidate forum on April 25, all three candidates for two Council seats said they’d prefer if the Purple Line light rail was never built, for fear that it will bring development in surrounding communities.
On April 22, the County Council’s Planning Committee agreed with Council staff, Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier and Krasnow to keep all properties bordering the Town of Chevy Chase out of the Minor Master Plan.
“This seems both illogical and somewhat wrong. I’m getting a phone call from the mayor of the Town next to this, who doesn’t know about your deliberations until I call over there and say, ‘Do you know about this,’” County Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) told Krasnow and Carrier at the April 22 hearing. “Which is not the way we do things in Montgomery County, at least I didn’t think we did them that way. But apparently that is the way we do things now.”
In her candidate’s statement, Burda leads by explaining how she lobbied County Councilmembers to exclude properties bordering the Town from the Apex Building Minor Master Plan:
A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from a county councilmember letting me know of a potentially harmful development for our Town: the Planning Board was considering rezoning properties adjacent to the Town along Wisconsin Avenue, Elm Street Park and Montgomery Avenue and wanted to do it on the fast track. Thanks to this heads-up, I immediately set up a meeting with another county councilmember and got on the phone to several others. Through this direct access and quick action, the properties adjacent to the Town are no longer under immediate threat.
This outcome was only possible because of the hard work that I and others on our Council have done over the years to foster strong relationships with our county and state officials. This type of relationship will be particularly critical over the next few years as the County continues to look for ways to increase density in the down-county area. Experience does matter.
Image via Montgomery County Planning Department