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Bethesda Fire Department To Brief Neighbors On Redevelopment Plans

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 8/13/2014, 12:25pm  ET

Bethesda Fire Station #6, Flickr photo by thisisbossiThe Bethesda Fire Department will brief neighbors later this month on its plans for the redevelopment of Fire Station #6 at the corner of Bradley Boulevard and Wisconsin Avenue.

The Bethesda Fire Department — a separate entity from the county government’s Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services — is a nonprofit that owns the aging fire station building. The board of the BFD is exploring redeveloping the site to include a mixed-use project to help pay for a modern fire station facility.

That possibility has already got some neighbors concerned about density that might be built near single family homes on adjacent Nottingham Drive and the Chevy Chase West neighborhood.

On Monday, Aug. 25 and Tuesday, Aug. 26, the BFD will hold meetings to explain to neighbors where it is in the redevelopment process. The meetings, which require a RSVP, were announced in fliers posted on the doors of residents along Nottingham Drive.

According to the fliers, the BFD board is considering renovating the existing firehouse building, building a new firehouse and not taking any action:

In order to ensure that we can maintain our high standard of service and safety of the communities we serve, the board of directors of the Bethesda Fire Department is investigating a number of concepts for Fire Station 6 located at Wisconsin Avenue and Bradley Boulevard.

Among some of the concepts being discussed are renovating the the existing firehouse building, building a new firehouse, or not taking any action. While there is not an immediate plan to do anything, we would like the opportunity to meet with you — our neighbors on Nottingham Drive — to share some of our current thoughts and to get your input. We will be meeting with other members of the community in the near future too.

We would welcome you to join us on Monday August 25 or Tuesday August 26 2014 at 7 pm for a brief presentation and discussion at FS 6 (6600 Wisconsin Ave). In the meantime we have posted some information regarding frequently asked questions on our website at www.Bethesdafire.org. Please RSVP to Janeth Mora, jmora@bethesdafire.org, 301-652-5602 if you plan to attend.

We look forward to meeting with you and engaging you in this process. Please feel free to send us any questions you may have.

The fliers were signed by BFD President John Murgolo.

There has been no formal proposal of a redevelopment project, though BFD officials did talk to Planning Department officials working on the rewrite of the downtown Bethesda master plan.

Planners said the Fire Department talked about a six- to eight-story apartment on the fire station’s current site that climbs down to four stories fronting the block of single family homes on Nottingham Drive. According to planning staff, the proposal also involves a one-story structure to house retail at the very corner closer to the intersection. The new fire station would be built on what’s now a bare spot of grass just to the west.

Naomi Spinrad has been leading the Chevy Chase West Neighborhood Association’s opposition to any commercial redevelopment. In a monthly neighborhood association newsletter, she wrote that “Traditionally the neighborhood has coalesced to protect any street or block facing unacceptable development or uses, and we need to rally strongly this time.”

Spinrad is opposed to a commercial redevelopment of the site because she argues it would mean service driveways and entrances on Nottingham Drive, increased traffic and the possibility that county officials would allow more development south of Bradley Boulevard.

The Board of the Bethesda Fire Department includes members who live in many of the communities the fire station services, including Chevy Chase West.

Fire Station #6 is staffed and operated by MCFRS. The Bethesda Fire Department serves what’s largely a fundraising role. The group’s board includes many prominent local civic and business leaders.

It’s clear the Bethesda Fire Department’s role could be a subject of discussion. Sprinrad said she prepared a 14-page document that highlights many of the issues surrounding the potential redevelopment, including how the Fire Department “differs from the BCC Rescue Squad,” which provides rescue volunteers at its Battery Lane station.

Flickr photo by thisisbossi