Park Renovation Fund Support

The MoCo Department of Parks and Planning’s budget is consumed by large land acquisition and park restoration projects which leave few funds available for small park projects.  For example, the renovation of Williard Park has been in the queue for 23 years.  On February 7, CCCFH Chair Harold Pfohl testified in support of a “Park Refresher” Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) which would provide a dedicated fund and line item for smaller projects.  The link to the testimony is below.

TESTIMONY 02 07 2018 Park Refresher CIP No. P871902

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Westbard Update – More Information On Regency Plan

Westbard Update

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Westwood Shopping Center Redevelopment – Presentation of Plans,  Wednesday Evening, Jan 31 (details in pdf links below):


Westwood Shopping Center Notice of Pre-Submission Public Meeting dtd 1.1…

Please have a look at the attached invitation/announcement of a presentation by Regency Centers of their concept for redoing Westwood Center.  This redevelopment has been the focus of intense interest over the past couple years.

We urge attendance in order to be informed on a matter that affects all of us.

To RSVP to Regency Centers:


Call:  240 883 6494

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Westbard Self Storage – Letter to Planning Board


  • The proposed storage building’s northern wall should be located further to the south so that the Outlet Road path between the McDonald’s property and the storage building is sufficiently wide.
  • New Parcel 1, to be created on the western side of the site and dedicated to M-NCPPC, should be wider.
  • Open space requirements should be satisfied in part on the parcel where the storage building would be built.
  • Stormwater controls should be examined by MNCPPC and enhanced on Outlet Road.

For the full text of the letter including the illustrations please click on the link below:


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September Meeting Notes

Bicycle Master Plan

David Anspacher of the Planning Dept presented on the the Bicycle Master Plan in the works. It is intended to appeal to those with low tolerance for traffic stress (approx 51% of people).  See the presentation here.

5550 Friendship Blvd

Developer filed a Local Map Amendment to raise the permitted height in Sector Plan from 90 feet to 180 feet. The latest plan is that the existing building would remain, and a condo of 180 feet would be added (100 upscale condos). They are thinking of a small greenspace in front of the building being used as a dog park. Tentative hearing dates with Planning Board on Dec 7. On Oct 10, the developer will make a presentation to the Friendship Village Council. They will be presenting to CCCFH in our October meeting. Friendship Heights will vote to take a stance on their proposal after the presentation and has asked that the CCCFH do the same. 

Bethesda Downtown Plan

On the Council Agenda for tomorrow (9/19/17). The Sectional Map Amendment seems to be on track for approval. The SMA adopts the zoning proposed in the Sector Plan for over 200 properties. 

Westward Self Storage

CCCFH Issues: 

  • Portion of building in the Stream Valley Buffer 
  • Access: How are people accessing this building?
  • Compliance with zoning: Where are you measuring height from?
  • How will this all fit in with the greenway? Will there be a canyon effect.
  • Stormwater questions
  • Parcel 177 is the southeastern parcel of the cemetery – are they planning to build on it or dedicating it? 

Sept 12: New site plan looks very similar and has building height measuring point. They would like a tree variance as well. They also filed a response that is an 18 page document that seems to say they are willing to push back against the community concerns. 

There is a planning board meeting on Oct 19. This is an extension meeting at which the Planning Board is likely to extend the deadline to November. Staff report will come in early November. There is a decent amount of coordination needed on the CCCFH front in the next few months. 

Westbard Sector Plan: 

Reminder: Regency owns a lot of strip malls. They are in the retail business. Traditionally, retail developers do not switch over to residential development. It will be interesting to see if they flip the residential property to someone else and move forward with their retail developments.

Save Westbard Lawsuit: 

Oral arguments heard in August on two of the three claims (the procedural claims). A decision on either of these claims could cause a remand. The third claim is on illegal contract zoning and is scheduled to go to trial in October (this has since been rescheduled to January). 

The mediation process with the Baptist Church and the Cemetery is ongoing but confidential, so not much to report. 

Posted in Meeting Summary

Reminder – No Aug Meeting, Sept Meeting Rescheduled

Reminder: There is no August meeting of the CCCFH. The September meeting will be on Monday, September 18 to avoid a conflict with the first night of Rosh Hashanah.  The meeting will still be held at the Somerset Town Hall at 8 PM.

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July Meeting Notes

Update on 5550 Friendship Blvd

At the last meeting, CCCFH voted to send a letter to the developer supporting Friendship Heights’ stance that they did not want redevelopment at this location. The developer responded that they are not trying to amend the Sector Plan. They are asking for a floating zone designation that allows the same density as is currently permitted, but with a higher building height.

The developer met with neighbors at Elizabeth House and presented both a 180 foot and 90 foot option (90 foot option requiring the tear down of adjacent office building). The majority of the neighbors did not think a 180 foot building was a good option. There is a sense that the developers are trying to meet with each condo building to get support. It is unclear how successful they might be.

Bethesda Overlay

There has been a contentious debate about which areas may be eligible for height bonuses provided for excess of 15% MPDUs. CBAR and CCCFH have argued that any areas near and adjacent to single family homes should be excluded from these incentives.

At the Council meeting, the Council presented a two new maps – one that only focused on changes to the South Bethesda boundaries. This did not include just HOC properties, but also included Alden Properties (which has discussed going up to 25% MDPU). This change was accepted as an amendment to the ZTA. The Council ultimately moved Battery Lane and Sport & Health also inside the incentive zone. The final vote removed any incentive zone on the east side of Wisconsin Ave., but left open the possibility that there could be a sloping decrease in heights away from the Metro, and then an increased height south of Bradley Blvd due to HOC and MPDU height incentives.

Next steps / Options going forward –

  • CBAR could submit a request for reconsideration: The request for reconsideration would be difficult to see succeeding as they will need 5 votes for any reconsideration to take place (and vote was 7-2 in favor of the current plan).
  • Let it go and deal with each property as they come up: There may be traffic and access issues that come up.
  • Leverage Subdivision Staging Policy: Somerset Elementary will be 1 student short of 120% this year. That means that they are close to the moratorium on development. We cannot put all our eggs in the school moratorium basket as that could potentially be addressed with redrawing boundaries and moving some children to Westlake.
  • File a lawsuit since vote was based on erroneous info


Save Westbard Hearing was postponed until sometime in August. The judge asked the plaintiffs to prepare an amended complaint, and then the County and EquityOne would submit a reply.

Lawsuit(s) Challenging HOC Cemetery Site

Two lawsuits –

  1. One brought by a group similar to (or the same as?) SaveWestbard, who felt that the sketch plan that was approved did not reflect what was discussed in the earlier meetings.
  2. EquityOne brought suit because the Sketch Plan was approved except for the HOC site, but they cannot move forward until the HOC issues are resolved, so they are stuck for now.

Related: The County is developing two laws to address cemetery issues, one adding the County cemetery inventory into the Planning Board process.

Westbard Self Storage and DRC Hearing

Development Review Committee (DRC) was last month. The attorney opted to skip the comments, as they were all “No”. There are several issues with their proposal.

The first issue had to do with being inside the Willett Branch buffer. The attorney seemed to feel the buffer boundaries were negotiable, and that they should be allowed to infringe on the buffer (EquityOne got to, so why can’t I?). The DRC pushed back that they could not enter the buffer. The attorney also argued that they should be allowed to enter the buffer because they are donating parcel 177 (adjacent to the cemetery). Parcel 177 is in the flood plain, and potentially part of the cemetery as well.

They also discussed access to the storage center. The self-storage unit would be the largest unit of all in the River Rd/Westbard area. This is because the land slopes down, so they will go 3 stories underground – and the underground levels are not counted in the FAR. They have a very narrow driveway from River Rd (18 ft wide).  Lack of sufficient access for the fire department may create a safety issue, plus they need to provide access to the Capital Crescent Trail and the greenway.

Timing: They have until July 26 to resubmit to address the DRC issues. The final submission would be mid-August and the Planning Board will take it up in October. It seems likely that timeline will shift by 30 days at least.

Next Meeting

There is no August meeting of the CCCFH. The September meeting will be on Monday, September 18 to avoid a conflict with the first night of Rosh Hashanah.  The meeting will still be held at the Somerset Town Hall at 8 PM.








Posted in Meeting Summary

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