The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday gave its support to a number of revisions from a developer hoping to build a seven-story, 120-unit apartment on West Lane that some nearby residents still oppose.
The 4831 West Lane project, from D.C.-based developer SJG Properties, got approval from the Board in December but made some changes to the design — pushing the building father back from the street and revising public use space — based on input from the Board and opposition from neighbors.
Residents in the townhomes and condos surrounding the site, sandwiched in between Arlington Road and Woodmont Avenue, said the original massing of the building would block sunlight, cause traffic issues, wasn’t compatible with the existing neighborhood and wasn’t in accordance with the 1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan.
The majority of Planning Board commissioners agreed that the revisions since were adequate and that the Board shouldn’t push for more changes for a building so close to the Bethesda Metro station.
“It’s right next to the Metro station and they are not growing Metro stations on trees,” Commissioner Casey Anderson said. “That is absolutely fundamental, not just to the Master Plan but to everything we’re trying to do in the county.”
A few opponents argued the massing of the building, even after the revisions, still does not fit the gradual step-down concept presented in the Plan. Anderson argued it does.
Board Chair Francoise Carrier argued the developer should be asked to do more with the top of the building. SJG’s revised plan calls for 12-foot setbacks and a lighter external color for the sixth and seventh floors, a design they say would make the building appear smaller.
Anderson and others said asking the developer to do any more wasn’t necessary. Carrier made it clear that the Board had no interest in more talks about the proposal in this stage.
It approved the revised plan in a letter to the Hearing Examiner, which will take up the issue on April 8.