Bethesda Downtown Plan
CCCFH, as part of a group of neighborhood associations, signed a letter to the County Council. That letter is available on the website.
Marriott is coming to Bethesda, which is great economically. Some new facts are coming up: The County is giving Marriott a great deal of parking. This may be disappointing for those in the Town of Chevy Chase Village and in East Bethesda as they, with support from others, proposed that surface parking lots near them be turned into park space / greenspace. A reduction in the total number of parking spaces in Bethesda due to the Marriott allocation could impact those proposals. Roger Berliner is looking into it.
The Planning Board draft Bethesda plan mapped higher heights with no additional FAR beyond what is now allocated. The Board proposed several mechanisms that would provide a pool of additional FAR, limited to a maximum total number of square feet, for owners to go to. The first issue considered by the PHED committee was the question of if the general concept of a sector-wide pool of FAR was good. Hans Riemer thought it was a good idea. Nancy Floreen was hesitant, but was swayed by it. A separate question involved one mechanism for providing FAR — by sending sites and receiving sites. George Leventhal summarized his concerns by saying that if he cannot easily explain this, it is likely not a good idea. There appeared more support for a mechanism to transfer density between sites. It is now available for properties within ¼ mile subject to conditions, but they will consider expanding it to anywhere in the sector.
The next PHED Committee session is on transportation and is scheduled for Feb 27. They will start looking at details of particular sites on March 6.
The hearing on Equity One’s sketch plan is Feb 23rd before the Planning Board. A lengthy discussion of issues with the staff report and strategy for testimony occurred.
Some issues with the report:
- Heights and density: There are a lot of numbers in this plan. The numbers seem generally consistent with the sectional map amendment, but a closer look indicates that there are issues. Westwood II should be capped at 75 ft and the sketch plan shows it capped at 85 feet.
- Bump up of heights for MPDUs: if Equity One is doing 15% MPDUs, they are really only entitled to additional height for the 2.5% increase above the required 12.5%. The planning staff generally seems to say that each parcel will have 15% MPDUs rather than moving them around between the parcels (with 30% on both buildings on the HOC area).
- Residential above commercial on Westwood I site: There is a question as to if that is correct or if there is an error in the report. We should ask that this remain only commercial.
- HOC site: Staff want to approve this square footage, but there is a carve out in the staff report on the sketch plan for HOC parcels in view of the potential African-American cemetery. The HOC site should not be included in the maximum square footage generally allowed in the sketch plan review.
- Amenities generally: The Civic Green is still very small. Neighborhood green park is 1/3 to ½ acre. There is no reasonable connectivity to the Willett Branch from the Civic Green – no pathway delineated in the plan. How do the planners expect folks to get from the Westwood I area to the Capital Crescent Trail?
- Willett Branch Buffer: We need to press for the buffer to extend to the existing bowling alley on the Bowlmor site. There is no mention of the buffer behind the Bowlmor site.. We also need a map of the Greenway to make sure this works.
- Springfield has concerns about Westbard Ave. It is critical that the sketch plan show that tractor trailers will be able to turn onto Westbard Ave from River Rd.
Also, there are issues with the schedule for the archaeologists and general concern that a delay in that process may impede the Willett Branch process and land dedication.
Rooftop Terraces ZTA 16-17
PHED Committee hearing is March 27.