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Community Meeting On West Lane Condo Development

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 1/14/2014, 4:20pm  ET

A rendering of what the 4831 West Lane apartment could look like with other planned future development. The 4831 building is shown in the middle of the image, via Montgomery County Planning DepartmentThe controversial plan for a 80-foot tall, approximately 120-unit condo building at 4831 West Lane in Bethesda is set to start the county’s typical development review process with a required community meeting next week.

Representatives from D.C.-based developer SJG Properties will be on hand Wednesday, Jan. 22 to present the preliminary and site plans for the building, which some neighbors have argued is too tall and will bring too much congestion to the surrounding neighborhood of townhomes and other condos.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).

Though SJG hasn’t formally submitted its plans, much of what the developer wants is well known because it went through a separate and lengthy zoning change process to get more density.

The Planning Board approved a development application for the project in December 2012 and added some binding elements. SJG came back to the Planning Board in March 2013 with setback and architectural changes. The Planning Board again gave its support.

In September 2013, the County Council upheld a hearing examiner’s decision to approve the new zoning by an 8-1 vote.

Residents from the City Homes of Edgemoor and the Edgemoor Condominium Residences argued for more than a year that the building (five feet higher than the 1994 Bethesda CBD Master Plan recommended zoning) will be too dense for the neighborhood and will hurt traffic flow and pedestrian safety on West Lane and Montgomery Lane.

But the developer, and some on the County Planning Board, said the stretch of single family homes less than 1,000 feet from the Bethesda Metro is an ideal spot for density.

At the Council hearing, the attorney for SJG Properties argued the seven-story building with a 73-foot setback from West Lane will actually be more compatible with the Sector Plan than the very properties some opponents live in.

Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department