NIH Environmental Study Won't Be Ready For County Review
A required environmental study of the National Institutes of Health campus will not be ready for review when the federal agency's Draft Master Plan goes before the Montgomery County Planning Board on Oct. 18. NIH Office of Research Facilities spokesman Brad Moss said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will not be ready prior to the meeting, but will be submitted in time for full public comment before NIH finalizes its 2013 Master Plan. The Draft Master Plan is also scheduled to go before the National Capital Planning Commission on Nov. 1 for review and comment. It calls for a new entrance gate on West Cedar Lane and the development of facilities to house up to 3,000 additional employees, some currently working in satellite offices away from NIH's 300-acre campus of more than 75 buildings on Wisconsin Avenue. Moss said those are long term projects planned over the 20-year life of the master plan and that no growth is envisioned soon. "NIH is very conscious of its impact of congestion on the community and its own employees and will continue to be a leader in the federal sector in the area of transportation demand strategies," Moss wrote in an email. Approximately 1,200 U.S. Food and Drug Administration employees who now occupy three buildings on the NIH campus will be moving to new facilities on FDA's White Oak campus in Silver Spring. Moss said that move will offset the roughly 650 additional staff members that will work in the new Porter Neuroscience Research Center, which is being constructed on the Old Georgetown Road side of campus. "Eventually, NIH may renovate buildings 29, 29A and 29B if funds become available and may gradually increase campus population over the 20 year master planning horizon," Moss wrote. Nearby residents and commuters are wary of development at both NIH and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which is across Wisconsin Avenue. NIH held an "initial public scoping meeting" with the public in February. Walter Reed expansion has caused traffic and parking difficulties for nearby residents and commuters. The Department of the Navy submitted its EIS for planned development of new medical and research facilities earlier this week.