Residents At Odds With Planning Staff on Bethesda Development


Residents from a number of neighboring homes and apartments disagree with Montgomery County Planning staff's recommendation to approve a seven-story, 120-unit apartment building on West Lane. The proposed 118,000-square-foot, 70-foot tall project from D.C.-based developer SJG Properties is too tall and will bring too many cars to the neighborhood of townhomes wedged between Arlington Road and Woodmont Avenue near the Bethesda Metro station, according to correspondence to be reviewed at a Planning Board hearing on Dec. 20. A previous proposal for the property (4831 West Lane) from a different developer had 48 apartments in a smaller building residents say fit better on the narrow street behind the high-rise Chase and Edgemoor apartment buildings on Woodmont Avenue. "We supported the original proposed Halliday development plan on this site (G-843) because it planned for 48 units and had a number of features friendly to our neighborhood — such as shorter height on Montgomery Lane, increasing height toward the back, open useable space, a facade on Montgomery Lane that was compatible with the town homes across the street, lower density and lower number of apartment units. All these features are gone with the new application," wrote nearby resident MaryAnn Dubner. "All this violates the planning concept of decreasing height or "tenting" starting at Woodmont Ave. and ending at Arlington Rd. The County Council last week approved a five-story, four-unit development in the neighborhood at 4825 Montgomery Lane. Most residents were in support of that project, though a few questioned the adequacy of the eight parking spots part of the plan. Reaction against this project has been much stronger. It would include a garage with 117 parking spaces, which worries residents. Montgomery Lane is one way east of West Lane and residents say delivery trucks and cars often block the entire street. There is no parking allowed on West Lane, but illegal parkers are known to block one lane of traffic there. "Our area of Bethesda is dense and will likely get more so. We recognize that," wrote Peter Locker, President of the Villages of Bethesda Homeowners Association. "But we depend on your sound wisdom to insure that development is compatible with our area. …Put simply, it is the wrong building for this site and should be rejected." The Planning Board received letters in opposition of the project from residents and resident associations in the Edgemoor, the Town Homes, The Chase and the Villages of Bethesda. The Planning Board's review of the project is set for the afternoon portion of its Dec. 20 session. Images via Montgomery County Planning Department  

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