Legally – the big thing on the rezoning of Westbard coming up is the Sectional Map Amendment, which codifies the decisions made by the County Council. As an initial step, Planning Board Staff prepared a doc and CCCFH circulated to the neighboring communities to make sure everything looked correct. The neighborhood associations are in charge of this. (If you see something that seems inconsistent, please let you neighborhood association us know!)
One issue we are still looking at is the roof structures. It was discussed during the Westbard process that the roof structures should be counted in the total building heights. The way Department of Permitting Services is interpreting the current zone where there is a roof top structure seems to be that anything with a roof is a structure and should be counted in the building heights. The ideal long-term solution is to adopt a zoning text amendment (ZTA) to address roof top structures broadly and apply it to the entire county. The planning group is reviewing the situation, but there is no dependency on this for the Sectional Map Amendment to be approved. There would be a separate public hearing on the ZTA. CCCFH will continue to follow up on the rooftop terrace ZTA.
Equity One Sketch Plan
There will be a DRC (Development Review Committee) session on August 22. This is the meeting of agencies – at that time, we will be able to get all the comments of agencies on the EquityOne sketch plan. After that, it appears that EquityOne will have to resubmit their sketch plan with updates. They will have about 3 weeks to do that. The re-application will become the focus on more detailed comments leading up to the Planning Board meeting on November 3, 2016.
There is a Westwood Shopping Center booklet by EquityOne that includes info and diagrams that were presented in its Sketch Plan. This will be available to the public at the Bethesda library on Arlington Rd. The Planning Department’s web page on the Westbard Sector Plan has a link to Equity One’s Sketch Plan. This is a direct link to the list of a series of documents which compose the Sketch Plan submission and updates. EquityOne is showing an increase in heights for the buildings, except Manor Care and the main Westwood shopping center anchored by Giant, due to MPDUs above 12.5% (this was shown at the Sketch Plan presentation as well). To reach the greenspace requirements, EquityOne is counting areas around sidewalks (the borders around buildings, etc.). Willett Branch improvements are not addressed.
Little Falls Watershed Alliance is working actively to push this forward. The Council’s PHED Committee session made clear that the Parks Dept is going to manage the work themselves and are going to ask EquityOne to contribute money to the efforts, as well as a dedication of property. Parks Dept is not thinking they are going to be able to restore Willett Branch to the original channel, but they do think they are going to be able to make major improvements.
They have divided Willett Branch into a series of segments. Some (Kenwood House, WES, Whole Foods Market/Kenwood Station) will not have anything done on them in the near future. South of River Rd, near Westwood II, is EquityOne property, and they are hoping to make improvements there. Then, you have the American Plant/Roof Center segment of Willet Branch, which apparently will not be improved unless they redevelop the properties. There are opportunities in the HOC / Bowlmor area as the land is owned by EquityOne. Parks is hoping to buy some of the land to connect to the Capital Crescent Trail, etc., but the FY 2017 budget has just started and there is no budget for any such land acquisition.
It remains unclear how readily the Willett Branch project will come together, but Parks folks seem pretty optimistic despite budget concerns. In general, the law is that if the land around Willett Branch is redeveloped, there must be a 100 feet buffer on both sides of the creek. But in a developed area such as this, as addressed in the Westbard sector plan, there is some flexibility.
Bethesda Downtown Plan
Will be voted out of the Planning Board tomorrow and sent to the County Council. 32.4 M square feet is the max allowed. They are going to propose a Bethesda Overlay Zone. Basically, entities will have whatever they had in 1995 plan. There is a pool of additional density entities have to apply for, and there will be fees to pay for parks.
Subdivision Staging Plan
Being voted on tomorrow by the Planning Board. You can see CCCFH testimony here.
If you have questions about this meeting or the CCCFH, please contact your neighborhood CCCFH rep. A list can be found here.