Chevy Chase Lake Plan Encounters Criticism In First Council Worksession

Pre-Purple Line redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake, via Montgomery County Planning DepartmentCouncilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) today criticized the Planning Board’s Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan recommendation, saying it was too focused on creating density around a planned Purple Line station instead of addressing concerns of the existing community

Elrich also dismissed traffic studies the Planning Department used to show the recommended 790,000 square feet of pre-Purple Line development would not significantly affect the area’s already failing intersections. Planners say the vast majority of traffic in the area comes from thru-traffic from commuters on Connecticut Avenue, and they made “aggressive” projections of how many residents in the Plan area would use the Purple Line.

“The purpose of planning is not to provide riders for transit systems,” Elrich said. “The purpose of planning, I thought, was to provide livable communities.”

Elrich and the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee must wade through a number of issues outlined in an hour-and-a-half discussion during this afternoon’s first Chevy Chase Lake worksession.

Elrich made it clear he’s against many of the density recommendations by the Planning Board, but discussions still remain on traffic, how the Plan would proceed with the uncertainty surrounding the Purple Line and the Planning Board’s recommendation for separate zoning processes before and after the Purple Line.

Councilwoman and Committee Chair Nancy Floreen (D-At large) raised legal concerns about approving post-Purple Line phasing that would likely go into effect under a new Council in the next term.

The much talked about issues regarding two specific developments — the Newdale Mews apartments and a new high-rise on Connecticut Avenue next to the planned Purple Line station — weren’t discussed.

Floreen advised a vocal contingent or residents who are against some aspects of the development that the Council’s job is to shape the Sector Plan in general.

Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) sat in on the worksession and suggested the use of the words “town center” in Planning Department recommendations put the community, used to single-family neighborhoods and a 1960′s-era strip shopping mall, on edge.

The next worksession on the Plan will happen in June.

Photo via Montgomery County Planning Department

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