May 2017 Meeting Notes

Capital Crescent Trail

Montgomery County Parks and the Park Police attended the meeting to explain the current status of intersection of the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway. There have been accidents, including one fatality at this intersection in recent years.

The incidents that have occurred have been low-speed incidents that resulted from the inside lane of traffic not being able to see that there are people (pedestrians and/or bicyclists) coming on the trail. Cars on the outside lane block this ability. Bicyclists on the trail tend to run through this intersection without making sure all four lanes of traffic have stopped/seen them. Currently, they have responded to the fatal accident by narrowing Little Falls Parkway to one lane in each direction. The speed limit has also been lowered from 35 MPH to 25 MPH (which is consistent with other parkways). This is a temporary solution. It is liked by folks who use the trail, but not liked by the commuters who rely on Little Falls Parkway and feel the temporary solution creates more traffic. Some nearby communities also feel that there is increased cut-through traffic.

This intersection was modified in 2011 with the goal of improving safety at the trail. That was not successful insofar as the accidents have continued. Thus, they are beginning a study to determine how to best improve the traffic flow while ensuring that the trail users can be safe. They have started some traffic counts while simultaneously receiving proposals from traffic consultants. The traffic study will look broadly at Little Falls Parkway from Bradley to Dorset and Arlington between Bradley and Little Falls Parkway. It will also look at potential bike lanes to add and connect to CCT.

There is no pre-existing preferred path forward – they are starting with an open mind. They know that whatever happens will have to be funded by the Council. They expect the consultant on board by late summer, public meeting in the fall, iterate on proposal over the winter, and hopefully have a proposal to the Planning Board in the spring (and eventually County Council).

Options suggested at meeting by meeting attendees:

  1. Bridge over Little Falls Parkway (awfully expensive)
  2. Stoplight (move the trail to the Arlington light)
  3. Stoplight (add another stop light)
  4. Cut back trees near the intersection to improve sightlines / make the upcoming pedestrians and bicyclists more visible as they approach the intersection

You can contact the Parks Dept with more questions at info@montgomeryparks.org

Bethesda Downtown Plan

County Council considered the Bethesda Downtown Plan on April 18 and April 25 as it relates to building heights. The CCCFH wrote to the Council and supported the Riemer/Michaelson Approach to Affordable Housing South of Bradley Boulevard. This proposal ran into issues at the Council and was retracted without a vote. The CCCFH also supported staging, but that measure was declined by the Council. The next step is for the Council to adopt the resolution. It will be taken up on May 25. The Overlay Zone, which allocates density, will be taken up in June.

Westbard

The April 26 resolution adopted by the Planning Board approving, subject to substantial conditions, the sketch plan application by EquityOne does not specify requirements for development with regard to the HOC area.  Instead, it requires Regency (which acquired EquityOne) to submit an amendment to the sketch plan for the HOC site.  This will require further work related to the African American historical burying site in the vicinity of the HOC site.  The study work has been done, but the field work has not been done yet.  There is an effort to mediate that between Regency, the Planners and the Macedonia Baptist Church.  Under the resolution, Regency cannot go to the preliminary plan stage for the entire development until it has submitted a sketch plan amendment for the HOC site and the Planning Board has approved it.

Bethesda Self Storage is assembling their application now and hope to have it completed this month.

On June 12, a Zoning Text Amendment will be considered to allow height limits for roof top terraces to NOT be counted in the overall height of the building. This is contrary to what the CCCFH discussed with Marlene Michaelson while reviewing the Westbard Sector Plan.

Friendship Heights Meeting on 5550 Friendship Blvd.

5550 Friendship Blvd is opposite Brighton Gardens. There is a 5-story office building and substantial greenspace there currently. The developer would like to build an 18 story building on the greenspace at that location. They have hired a PR firm and are trying to sell this concept to area residents. This does seem to require an amendment to the zoning, which could open up the Sector Plan for the Friendship Heights area, including the GEICO tract. This is still in the initial stages, but something we will be keeping an eye on.

Willard Avenue Park

The home and associated acre of land abutting the Willard Avenue Park has been owned by the County under control of the Parks agency for more than 20 years. It was purchased with the intent of demolishing the home and converting it and the acre of land into an expansion of the park. That hasn’t happened. The current effort is to get the County to move the fence surrounding the acre of land leaving the house in place but by moving the fence, significantly expanding the park. It was also noted that the four parking spaces for the park are altogether insufficient.

Posted in Meeting Summary

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