Bethesda will be front and center tomorrow at the Montgomery County Planning Board with three large-scale development issues on the agenda.
The Planning Board is scheduled to review master plans from NIH and Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB), which wants to replace medical and university facilities on the Walter Reed campus.
Those items are expected to begin at 2 p.m.
The NSAB expansion would bring more parking and more visitors to the base, though officials say studies in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) show the affect on already clogged Wisconsin Avenue and Jones Bridge Road traffic would be minimal.
NIH will not have an EIS ready for tomorrow’s hearing, something that could be a point of contention. The Environmental Impact Statements include studies on how future development could affect traffic, an ongoing and pressing concern for many Bethesda residents.
NIH’s Master Plan includes designs (over the next 20 years) for a new entrance gate on West Cedar Lane and new facilities to house up to an additional 3,000 employees, some currently working in satellite offices away from NIH’s 300-acre, 75-building campus on Wisconsin Avenue.
The Planning Board will submit comments on the plans to the National Capital Planning Commission, which has final say on the federal government expansion projects.
At issue is a number of building height and density questions for the commercial area of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Manor Road.
The Chevy Chase Land Company would like to turn its strip shopping malls on both sides of Connecticut Avenue into a major retail and residential development focused around the planned Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line Station.
Neighbors, including some longtime civic activists with experience in other development issues, formed a Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee concerned with increased traffic and infrastructure needs that might come with the sector plan.
Members of that group, other residents, property owners and representatives from other government agencies will get five minutes each before the Planning Board.