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Chevy Chase Lake Developer Gathers Supporters

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 5/16/2013, 10:15am  ET

A model of the Chevy Chase Land Company's proposed redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake

There has been pronounced opposition to the proposed Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, but the major developer in the mix is hoping to show there is also community support.

The Chevy Chase Land Company, which wants to convert the existing strip shopping center near Chevy Chase Lake Drive into a mixed-use town center, held a happy hour event on Wednesday for its Friends of Chevy Chase Lake group.

There were supporters and many residents who had questions about specific parts of the plan. Land Company Vice President of Public Affairs Miti Figueredo and President and CEO David Smith answered questions about a planned new north to south road, the fate of the Chevy Chase Supermarket during construction and the status of the Purple Line.

Many who expressed their support for the project during a County Council public hearing in March did so on the basis that the new development would make sense around a planned Purple Line station just north of the Land Company’s existing 8401 Connecticut building.

Bonnie Wicklund, who lives in the 8101 Connecticut Condominiums, said she supports the development. Her main want is the Purple Line station.

“We have everything but a post office. The only thing that this area really lacks is easy access to the Metro so that we can get on a train, make a change or two without driving, without getting into a car,” Wicklund said. “As for the development, I like to walk. I walk all over Chevy Chase and to the Chevy Chase Supermarket. I would love to have more restaurants to choose from and more shops.”

The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee and others successfully pushed the Planning Board to make some development contingent upon a Purple Line station. The CACC and other residents are still opposed to parts of the Planning Board’s proposed Sector Plan, including a 150-foot height limit for a building across the Capital Crescent Trail from 8401. Some residents would like to see that building height limited to 90 or 120 feet, for fear of increased traffic along Connecticut Avenue.

“If you develop far out, then you’re going to get pass-through traffic. A vast amount of this traffic on Connecticut Avenue is not people who live here, it’s people who live far out,” said Nancy Soreng, a Somerset resident and member of the Purple Line Now advocacy group. “Who knows, maybe some of those people who live in Rockville would live here and not even have to pass-through.”

The Chevy Chase Land Company wants to build apartments over retail spaces around a “town green” on the east side of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Manor Road. The 150-foot apartment building, a potential boutique hotel site and a new road connecting Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive would be central to the redevelopment.

The Land Company is also seeking 35-foot high zoning for townhomes or apartment flats on the west side of Connecticut Avenue with some ground floor retail facing the road and more density for its existing 8401 Connecticut building.

The County Council’s PHED Committee will resume its deliberations on the Sector Plan on June 10, with more worksessions scheduled for June 17 and June 24.

Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) criticized the Planning Board’s approved Sector Plan in the PHED Committee’s first worksession on it in March, saying it was too focused on creating density around the Purple Line station instead of addressing concerns of the existing community.

“People are continuing to have children. We have a good quality of life here,” Soreng said. “So if the population is going to continue to grow, if you’re going to do development, it makes sense to do it where there’s good access to transit so that not everybody who moves to that development has to have a car.”